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Hegemony the Decline of U.S. Hegemony "TheTerm Paper

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Hegemony

The Decline of U.S. Hegemony

"The decline of U.S. hegemony will pose dangers for the liberal world. After all, American power has for decades underpinned the global economy and the architecture of international institutions, and promoted gender equality and minority rights. Liberal democracies have thrived in this American-backed order, and so have liberal norms and ideas. They won't do as well when American power and influence decline." Comment on this forecast. How is American preponderance related to liberal norms and ideas? Do you think the existing international order will be significantly transformed by the rise of non-liberal powers? If so, how?

The United States has held the reigns of the global power structure for roughly half a century. After the end of World War II, the United States emerged as the world's sole super power and used this position to foster its own self-interest which was largely tied on the liberal values in which it was founded. After the result of the Cold War through today, the United States has been in the position to craft and guide the liberal institutions that operate the contemporary global system.

Yet there are a number of challenges that loom for the U.S. hegemonic liberal system that stands. Non-liberal powers are growing in populations as well as in monetary power. Alliances are being formed stand the potential to apply pressure for change in the current global order such as the intense growth within countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) and the unification of the South and Central American countries among other examples.

It is entirely possible that the U.S. liberal order will lose its hegemonic position in the global order. Some believe that this transition will end relative stability in world affairs while others believe that the impacts of the transition will be rather smooth and inconsequential. This analysis will provide some background information and attempt to frame the developments beginning with a rough outline of what liberalism actual consists of. It will then argue that a liberal world order without the U.S. In the hegemonic position is not only possible, but given the situation this result is probable.

Liberalism

The liberalism theory poses one of the most formidable challenges to the dominant realism theory and began to take hold after the Second World War and the birth of the United Nations (Dunne 2). Some intellectuals have provided vast theoretical justifications for why a set of liberal values represents an ideal position for the international community. Yet the definition of the concept of liberalism seems to be slightly out of grasp of anything concrete. Still it is apparent that the last few generations have seen the international community build institutions that are based on liberal principles that operate multilaterally through the Western world (Keohane).

Generally, liberalism is thought to contain a four dimensional definition (Dunne 2): First, the population is thought to be judicially equal and have rights to education, a free press, and religious tolerance. Next, the legislative function of government must be a representative government that is accountable to the people. Rights such as property rights are another component and finally the economic system should be based on a market system that is built upon individual choice. However, these dimensions are heavily debated and no consensus as to a definition of liberal values has emerged. In a conference in 2012 at Princeton University which questioned the future of liberal internationalism, most participants agreed that liberal internationalism consisted of, at least, an open system of rules designed to protect interests and secure equities (Friedman 3).

However, at the same time, the United States and the power it exercises on the world stage has not always followed liberal values. For example, some have stated that U.S. leaders, such as George W. Bush, have upset the system and have contributed to a potential liberal-order shattering "crisis of authority" (Betts 2). Yet some transgressions that challenge the integrity of a liberal system do not necessarily represent the system as a whole and the there is a wide range of competing perspectives that range from social welfare or social democratic to laissez faire (Doyle 207-208).

Hegemony

The distribution of power among states is hardly a static phenomenon. The unevenness in power on the world stage is apparent and dynamic. Some states will be steadily rising while others are in a state of decline (Nye 157). The concept of hegemony is typically used when one superpower has enough power to act unilaterally to exercise its will. Yet at the same time this concept is actually rather vague and subjective. For example, there is no consensus that constitutes what level of inequality must be present from the sole superpower to the rest of the nations before their advantage can be considered hegemony.

Hegemony does not necessarily imply that the world is unipolar either. In a unipolar world with one superpower does not have to compete with any other significant major powers. A bipolar system would include two primary superpowers such as the case of Russia and the U.S. before the end of the Cold War. A multipolar system would include many nations or coalitions that would have to cooperate to resolve any international issues. However, the current state of world power represents something of a hybrid in which the U.S. dominates but still has to contend with several major powers in a uni-multipolar system (Huntington 36).

Some have describe the period in the twenty-first century to be that of multipolar system in which various sources of power distributed to several sources of power are able to have a say in world affairs (Haas 44). The major powers in the world today, China, the European Union (EU), India, Japan, Russia, and the United States, account collectively for eighty percent of world military spending and about seventy-five percent of the world's economic activity. Furthermore, there are a host of private organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that have a significant amount of influences as well as individual cities and regional power centers in different parts of the globe (Haas 44-45).

Despite of the complexity that lay in the current distribution of power, the United States is still thought of having a hegemonic position. For example, the United States keeps hundreds of active military bases all over the world. Some estimates say that the U.S. has over seven hundred and thirty seven active bases worldwide, worth an estimated $127 billion (Johnson). Furthermore, the United States spends almost as much money on "defense" as the total spending on intelligence and military operations from the rest of the world combined (Mataconis). Thus, from a military power perspective, the U.S. has a large advantage over the rest of the world. It also has other advantages such as cultural, social, and technological however it no longer has the world's largest economy based on real terms.

American Power

The United States has held the reigns of the global power structure for roughly half a century. After the end of World War II, the United States emerged as the world's sole super power and used this position to foster its own self-interest which was largely tied on the liberal values in which it was founded. It was during this period that America's desire to create a congenial world order -- open, stable, and friendly -- turned into an agenda for the construction of a liberal hegemonic order (Ikenberry 79). After the result of the Cold War through today, the United States has been in the position to craft and guide the liberal institutions that operate the contemporary global system.

After World War II the U.S. used its hegemonic preponderance to build a series of institutions that were based upon liberal principles. It created a system that incorporated open markets, cooperative security, multilateral institutions, social bargains, and democratic community (Ikenberry 79). Such institutions include, but are not limited to, the Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) (Langridge 2). Much of advantage that allowed for the construction of these institutions was largely founded on geography and the fact that the United States has no bordering threats and could station its military forces overseas without worrying about any kind of domestic attack (Kagan 13).

Non-liberal Powers

Most scholars focus on the rise of China as the source that could lead to global instability and the remaking of the world's political arrangement. China has seen extraordinary economic growth over the last few decades. In fact, national economic output in "real" terms of goods and services, China will this year produce $17.6 trillion -- compared with $17.4 trillion for the U.S. which now makes the world's leading economy by this measure according to the International Monetary Fund (Arends). These figures are adjusted for many factors including currency exchanges, however the fact that China's economy is rising rapidly is quite apparent.

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