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Beyond American Hegemony: The Future of the Western Alliance

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... This unprecedented development was mainly due to the United States' (US) security umbrella over the European continent and by the common Soviet threat. In this regard, Josef Joffe and David Calleo argue that the presence of the US through NATO mitigated traditional enmity among Western European states (Joffe 1984;Calleo 1987). In other words, the presence of Washington as the number one partner in European defence relieved the West Europeans' hierarchical struggles that, in the absence of the US, would almost certainly be unleashed (Creasey & May 1988: 2-3). ...
... From the Civil Rights, anti-war, and feminist social movements of the era creating the 'Vietnam syndrome' in which the American population looked upon international intervention more critically, to the rise of international economic competition pushing down profit rates for American firms, to the seeming collapse of the dollar-gold standard and transition to a floating fiat currency, it seemed American power was faltering (Block 1977;Brenner 2006). This-coupled with the rise of Japan built on the East Asian developmental state model suggested to some-but not all-that by the 1980s, American hegemony was on the decline (Keohane, 1984;Calleo, 1987;Gilpin, 1987;Kennedy, 1987;Strange, 1987;Gill, 1990). ...
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The goal of this chapter is to present an analytic overview of what the potential of American decline means for rising powers on a global scale. The chapter argues that while indicators suggest American power has been declining, the shape this takes and the extent to which it falters will depend upon the contingency of global politics related to overall instability in the international system. To clarify this position: First, the chapter provides a brief overview of the current state of the scholarly and policy debates on the status of American power. Second, it examines the extent to which American power is in relative decline. Here, we will cover the US’s economic struggles, decline of political leadership internationally, and military ineffectiveness, among other issues. Third, it explores the ways rising powers such as the BRICS countries and most particularly China are – or are not – providing an alternative to American global leadership. Finally, the chapter concludes by highlighting the ways through which the future of American dominance depends on both the decisions and collective actions of those in the corridors of power and from various social movements in the periphery.
... Luego de la exitosa reconstrucción de las economías de la Alemania Federal y de Japón, y particularmente del Nixon Shock de 1971, así como de la crisis petrolera de 1973, tanto líderes mundiales como analistas empezaron a poner en duda el liderazgo de Washington. A partir de este momento, y por más de una década, la literatura sobre el declive de la hegemonía estadounidense adquirió proporciones industriales (Calleo, 1987;Gilpin, 1981;Keohane, 1986). ...
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For over a decade now the United States has lived a paradox: the disparity between its material preponderance and its political influence. This situation entails an analytical puzzle: for the hegemonic power, it is more effective to socialize power than to monopolize it. I argue that the conception of power has been a key factor in the performance of the United States as an hegemonic country since the end of World War II, that resort to multilateralist or unilateralist policies on Washington’s part is better explained by such understanding than by its hegemony measured in exlusively material terms, and that the United States under the Obama administrations has returned to the multilateral practice largely abandoned by its predecessor.
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Many analyses point to Trump’s behavior on the world stage—bullying and racketeering more reminiscent of a mafioso than a statesman—as a personal character flaw. We argue that, while this behavior was shocking in how unvarnished it was, Trump marks the culmination of a decades-long trend that shifted US foreign policy from a regime of “legitimate protection” in the mid-twentieth century to a “protection racket” by the turn of the twenty-first. While the temperaments of successive presidents have mattered, the problems facing the US and its role in the world are not attributable to personalities but are fundamentally structural, in large part stemming from the contradictions of US attempts to cling to preeminence in the face of a changing global distribution of power. The inability of successive US administrations—Trump and Biden included—to break out of the mindset of US primacy has resulted in a situation of “domination without hegemony” in which the United States plays an increasingly dysfunctional role in the world. This dynamic has plunged the world into a period of systemic chaos analogous to the first half of the twentieth century.
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Muitas análises apontam para o comportamento de Trump no cenário mundial – intimidação e extorsão que mais lembram a um mafioso que a um estadista – como falha de caráter pessoal. Embora esse comportamento tenha sido chocante na sua falta de polidez, Trump marca o culminar de uma tendência de décadas que transformou a política externa dos EUA de um regime de “proteção legítima” em meados do século XX num “esquema extorsivo de proteção” na virada do século XXI. Embora os temperamentos de sucessivos presidentes tenham sido importantes, os problemas enfrentados pelos EUA e seu papel no mundo não são atribuíveis a personalidades, mas são fundamentalmente estruturais, majoritariamente decorrentes das contradições de suas tentativas de se agarrar à sua preeminência diante das transformações na distribuição global de poder. A incapacidade de seus sucessivos governos – incluindo Trump e Biden – de romper com a mentalidade de primazia dos EUA resultou numa situação de “dominação sem hegemonia”, na qual desempenham papel cada vez mais disfuncional no mundo. Essa dinâmica mergulhou o mundo num período de caos sistêmico análogo à primeira metade do século XX.
Article
Hopkins’s American Empire is quite illuminating in his comparative analysis and detailed account of the dependent territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. He convincingly demonstrates that the American empire was not exceptional, though distinct, and that it shared more commonalities than differences with other Western colonial powers. This essay attempts to shed light on some other aspects that Hopkins’s analysis of the ‘insular empire’ did not fully cover in his work. It employs the term ‘informal empire’ rather than hegemony to grasp the distinct characteristics of American empire-building and highlights the dialectical process of interaction between America’s anti-colonial tradition, on the one hand, and the imperial impulses, on the other. In contrast with Hopkins’s portrayal of the United States as ‘an aspiring hegemon,’ it argues that the interwar years were a transitional stage of U.S. empire-building that subsequently transformed itself into a fully-fledged informal empire during the Cold War years. The article shows that the Cold War order was hierarchical and coercive, and similar to the old imperial order embodied by the European colonial powers. It shares Hopkins’s view that the first signs of the decline of U.S. power appeared in the 1970s but disagrees about the rate the trend developed. It contends that the decline was rather gradual and winding, though cumulative, and that the United States managed to remain an informal empire for some time after the ending of the Cold War.
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Scholars have interpreted the American global web of military bases as both outposts of empire and beacons of freedom. In Europe, in particu- lar, U.S. military deployment has been quite exceptional: since the end of World War II, American bases have mushroomed and grown steadily all over the continent. Originally meant to keep Western Europe from totalitarianism, embed it in a system of collective, transatlantic security, and tie it firmly to the free market and capitalism, U.S. bases in Europe eventually projected and embodied the American century. Focusing on the case of an American base installed in the Dutch village of Schinnen, this article shows that American military outposts in Europe have con- stantly disseminated the American way of life in a number of ways: they have affected the local economy, generated cross-cultural encoun- ters and deeply impacted the surrounding environment. Taking into account the positive as well as negative dynamics set into motion by the American military presence in Schinnen, this article invites further inquiry into the relationship between the centre of the American empire and its periphery, and puts the historical and historiographical viability of the American century to the test.
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Despite unprecedented levels of forced displacement across the globe, the contemporary international refugee regime is characterized by a lack of collective action and burden-sharing between states. This is the result of a North-South impasse, as Northern states have largely been able to isolate themselves from refugee streams from the global South, and have no formal obligation under international refugee law to contribute towards the protection of refugees on the territory of other states. This collective action failure was overcome, however, when a large spike in Mediterranean crossings in 2015 revealed the limits of European solidarity by exposing weaknesses in the Common European Asylum System and the Dublin System. This prompted the European Union (EU) to initiate the process that eventually culminated in EU member states and Turkey signing the EU-Turkey Statement on March 18th 2016. This paper draws on various relevant concepts from international relations in order to explain the dynamics that led to successful international cooperation on the EU-Turkey Statement, while also considering the implications of the deal for refugee protection in the EU and Turkey. The deal was, in some respects, a successful case of overcoming the widespread problem of collective action failure in the international politics of refugee protection, and contributed to a substantial drop in crossings from Turkey over the Aegean Sea into Greece. It represents a notable case in which a Southern state was able to use their control over the onward movement of asylum seekers to reverse power asymmetries and overcome the collective action failure resulting from the North-South impasse. Through the leverage it gained from its role as the EU's gatekeeper, Turkey extracted various significant political concessions from the EU. However, the deal has been criticized from numerous fronts on account of its net effect on refugee protection in Europe, as critics regard the deal simply as a new form of coordinated deterrence policy towards asylum seekers and an externalization of the EU's asylum and border management mechanisms, rather than a case of genuine burden-sharing on international refugee protection. They point to abysmal conditions for migrants and asylum seekers on the Greek islands, issues with considering Turkey a safe-third country and the inadequacy of legal safeguards to prevent the refoulement of individuals who are entitled to international protection.
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Despite a view which dates the beginning of the Soviet-American arms race to 1918,1 before the Second World War the USA allocated just one per cent or so of its national product to defence. The low quotient was consistent with a widely held conservative fiscal view that excessive military spending would unbalance the budget, and with a traditional strategy of maintaining a small peacetime professional army and rapid mobilisation of men and industry in wartime.2 After the war traditional forces reasserted themselves, and demobilisation was rapid. Between 1945 and 1947 military spending (in constant 1972 $s) decreased from $255bn. to $30bn., the armed forces fell from 3 100 000 to 391 000. Department of Defense military and civilian employment fell from 14.8m. to 2.4m. and total military-related employment from 25.8m. to 3.2m.3 The dominant conservative fiscal forces in Congress relegated military spending towards the end of the queue in the competition for federal resources. President Truman sought to establish a fixed 33 per cent ceiling irrespective of strategic requirements, arrived at only after essential domestic programmes had been funded. President Eisenhower likewise sought to limit defence spending to an equally arbitrary ten per cent of GNP despite pleas from the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the sums were inadequate.4
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In 1949 the bilateral arms race between the USA and USSR was internationalised when the USA agreed with Canada, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway and Portugal, that an armed attack on one or more of them in Europe or North America would be considered an attack against them all. Subsequently Greece, Turkey and West Germany have joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and France withdrawn. In 1955 the Eastern bloc followed suit, with the creation of the Warsaw Pact. Despite the different, enduring problems which have beset the two alliances since their formation, both, in contrast to most alliances which historically tend to disintegrate once the initial conflicts which gave rise to their creation have disappeared,1 have remained an instrumental part of the arms race. Systemic conflict between capitalism and socialism and great power hostility between the USA and the USSR have transcended the historical reluctance of countries to tie themselves to a semipermanent alliance, in the case of the USA, to that very part of the world against which Washington and subsequent leaders have railed.
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Most Functionalist assumptions of economic interdependence center around the idea that ‘free trade’ has a propensity to peace, and since the maintenance of peace is considered the ultimate foreign policy goal, economic relations are appraised positively. However, occasionally ‘free trade’ is not sufficient. Since the desired web of economic ties between East and West can not be woven without overcoming several serious political and economic barriers, economic interdependence has also been pursued as a specific political strategy by consciously stimulating trade. When East-West trade needs some governmental activity in order to gain momentum, be it by government guarantees of credits, the conclusion of trade treaties or by a favorable, relaxed political atmosphere, the conscious guidance and stimulation of interbloc commerce may become the central element of Western economic doctrine. As we have seen in Chapter 4, such Western strategies of economic interdependence were sometimes reminiscent of providing ‘pure aid’, without an equivalent anticipated political counterperformance. Yet, there are several other Western economic policies which foresaw substantial political benefits accruing from intensified East-West economic relations. Based on the assumption that ‘free trade’ (in the sense of ‘intensified trade’) among nations would in time lead up to political conciliation, commerce between East and West has been enthusiastically promoted in order to reap these kind of ‘peace dividends’.
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Frankreich verkörpert wie kaum ein zweiter Staat in Westeuropa das Dilemma zwischen dem Anspruch, eine souveräne Macht zu sein und dem Zwang zur Integration bzw. Kooperation wegen mangelnder materieller Grundlage. Nach der Befreiung 1944 war die politische Klasse wie selbstverständlich davon ausgegangen, wie nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg weiter Allianzen mit dem Westen und dem Osten eingehen, eine neutrale Position zwischen den Supermächten wahren zu können. (Ziebura 1970, 40) Doch wurde den französischen Politikern von ihren Verbündeten aus den angelsächsischen Ländern und von der Sowjetunion schnell klar gemacht, daß Frankreich nicht über die Mittel verfügte, den Anspruch als Großmacht zu sichern. Nach der Okkupation durch die Deutschen war das Land wirtschaftlich geschwächt, ein Teil der Wirtschaft zerstört1, und politisch gespalten in ehemalige Vichy-Kollaborateure und kommunistische und gaullistische Widerständler. Die Armee hatte 1940 eine vernichtende Niederlage erlitten, der größte Teil der Flotte war versenkt worden, um ihn nicht den Deutschen in die Hände fallen zu lassen. Und das neue Attribut, das für eine Großmacht seit August 1945 unverzichtbar geworden war, die Atomwaffe, blieb dem Land zunächst versagt.
Article
Recent years have seen a revival of discussions on American decline. This paper intervenes in this debate by suggesting that there is a tendency towards partial conceptualisations of US power. It suggests a new historical materialist perspective that makes it possible to theorise American Empire as a relational social totality embedded within global capitalism. The paper then analyses the social limits of China’s rise and the integration of East Asian regionalisation into American Empire, suggesting the extent to which world power has shifted east has tended to be overestimated. It also analyses the emergence of Brazil, India, and the brics meetings, suggesting these developments have a limited, but overstated, capacity to challenge American Empire.
Article
In the context of U.S. interests in East Asia, this report assesses the interlocking issues of burgeoning economic challenges, the shifting nature of the Soviet threat, and the declining support of the U.S. public for forward U.S. military deployments. The discussion centers on five questions: (1) What are the U.S. national interests in East Asia? (2) What are the threats to U.S. interests in East Asia? (3) What are the military obligations of the United States committed to East Asia? (4) What military resources has the United States committed to East Asia? and (5) What is the relative balance of U.S. national interests, threats, obligations, and committed military resources in East Asia? The report concludes that, although U.S. national interests, in East Asia are growing, the traditional military threat facing the United States has declined. The emergence of new political and economic threats to the U.S. has not standard military response. The public no longer favors sending troops to defend Asian allies, and traditional military alliances are becoming unraveled. With the demise of the strategy of containment, U.S. policy makers must reconsider the costs, benefits and necessity of forward deployment of U.S. forces--especially ground forces stationed in South Korea. (edc)
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