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US Hegemony

Global Ambitions and Decline- Emergence of the Interregional Asian Triangle and the Relegation of the US as a Hegemonic Power. The Reorientation of Europe

Reinhard Hildebrandt

With the end of the ‘East-West’ conflict in 1990, an entirely new constellation seemed to emerge for the first time in the history of mankind. This was perceived by the power elite in the USA as a useful challenge to lend its – until then territorially restricted – hegemony a global dimension. From the perspective of the US elites (Francis Fukuyama), a period of indefinite American control over the rest of the world, in which there would be no more scope for potential rivals to emerge, would characterize the end of history. But some years later, the USA had to accept that the dual hegemony it had built up together with the Soviet Union was fundamental to the continued existence of American hegemony. Its inability to sustain a global hegemony revealed itself in the severe setbacks it suffered in the three wars waged in Iraq, Afghanistan and against the so-called international terrorists. Undeterred by the USA’s imminent isolation, influential US experts insisted that US policies were still in line with the US’ general perception of its role in the world: firstly to work for the good of the world and, secondly, to exercise its military might even when the rest of the world opposed it. Ignored for a long time by these very experts were the emergence of the interregional Asian triangle (China, India, Russia), Europe’s reorientation and, in consequence, the USA’s relegation as a hegemonic power.

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14. Notes and Reference 103

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103 14. Notes and References 1. Following the withdrawal of the French in 1955, South Vietnam increasingly turned to the USA, with North Vietnam thereupon leaning more towards the Soviet Union. This only served to further aggravate the historically precarious relationship between the Vietnamese and China (given that Vietnam had in former times either partly belonged to China or come under strong Chinese influence, or even been occupied by Chinese troops). The greater the success gained by North Vietnam in overcoming the partition of the country by infiltrating the South, the lesser China’s interest in continuing to allow Soviet arms supplies to pass through Chinese territory en route to North Vietnam (initially Chinese interest was largely confined to lifting military technology to upgrade the inferior military goods that the Soviets supplied to China - as against India - or to replace them with indigenous production). At the same time, the Chinese leadership sought to demonstrate to the US that it could not win guerrilla wars merely with state-of-the-art weaponry. From the Chinese strategic perspective, Vietnam should ideally remain partitioned, though US influence on South Vietnam should wane and be replaced by Chinese influence. China temporarily confined itself to the neutralization of South Vietnam but, ultimately, even back then, it regarded the entire South China Sea as being part of the Chinese zone of influence. 2. By participating, Great Britain and France signaled that they considered their – in the meantime – high degree of dependence on the USA (Suez Canal reversal, 1956)...

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