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Is the US still a global hegemonic power - Essay Example

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Is the US still a global hegemonic power? 1. Introduction. In the years immediately following the Second World War most analysts would have agreed that the Soviet Union and the United States shared a “superpower” status which held the world in a state of uneasy balance that was given the name “The Cold War.” It could be said that they were holding each other in check with the mutual threat of nuclear war, and racing with each other to achieve supremacy in economic, political, military and cultural domains…
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Download file to see previous pages The break-up of the Soviet regime in the late twentieth century, however, changed all that, leaving the United States in a uniquely powerful position in the world. This situation has been labelled a “global hegemony” based on the Greek word hegemon meaning leader. A hegemony demonstrates supremacy and leadership, but it also implies that there are others who more or less willingly follow this leadership and sustain the hegemony with their support. In modern times the phrase “global hegemony” the phrase has been defined with an emphasis on economics as a situation which “requires a preponderance of material resources, in terms of raw materials, sources of capital, market dominance and advantages in the production of highly valued goods.” (Kehoane, 1984, p. ) The supremacy of the United states in technology and its ability to influence international organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund , which support capitalist free market economy ideals, has helped to ensure that America maintained a hegemonic position in the mid twentieth century. Other analysts view the situation of the United States in terms of a “theory of hegemonic stability” which maintains that “the presence of a single, strongly dominant actor in international politics leads to collectively desirable outcomes for all states in the international system.” (Snidal, 1985, 579) Snidal argues that the dominance can be exercised in both coercive leadership and benevolent leadership and of course the leader can determine at any point which type to apply. There are two ways in which such a hegemonic power can decline: “the absolute decline of the dominant actor (e.g. Spain beginning in the late 16th century) or from positive but differential growth rates through which secondary powers ‘catch up’ with a former leader (e.g. the ‘decline with growth of the United States after 1960).” (Snidal, 1985, 585) It seems that in the new millennium a number of other players have finally begun to “catch up” with the United States, notably the European Union which increasingly acts in a unified strategy on international issues, and China, which is emerging as a new world economic power which has the potential to dwarf even the United States. American hegemony is now being questioned both in terms of its current ability to provide benefits for other countries lower down in the hierarchy, and in terms of its ability to sustain itself in the face of emerging competition. This paper starts from the assumption that the United States was a global hegemonic power, jointly with the U.S.S.R. from 1945 and then in its own right from the late 1980s at least. It then examines arguments which support the idea that the United States is still a global hegemonic power and arguments against. Economic, political, military and cultural factors are considered in turn, and then the arguments are discussed, explaining why the hegemonic power of the United States is currently under threat, and concluding in the end that the United States is still a hegemonic power, but that this situation is not likely to last very much longer. 2. Arguments ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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