American Hegemony in the Twenty-First Century: Consensus and Legitimacy

Powerful Essays
American Hegemony in the Twenty-First Century: Consensus and Legitimacy

Abstract: Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has been the world’s only unquestioned superpower. How the United States evaluates its position as global hegemon has important consequences for American foreign policy, particularly with regards to the potential for future policy constraints. Thus, this paper seeks to consider the question: How durable is American hegemony? The paper first defines the state of American hegemony and then considers the primary challengers: Europe, Russia, China, Japan and imperial overstretch. It will conclude that in the long-term, East Asian geopolitical instability poses the greatest threat to American hegemony, but that in the short-term, the hegemony will prove to be quite durable as long as the United States can counteract the phenomenon of imperial overstretch. In order to diffuse both internal and international threats to hegemony, American leaders should work to pursue national interests within a framework of consensus and legitimacy as much as possible.

American Hegemony in the Twenty-First Century: Preserving the Status Quo by Fostering Consensus

I. Introduction: Why Hegemony Matters

The Soviet Union’s collapse at the end of the Cold War left the United States without its major global rival. Now alone at the top, the United States’ strategic imperatives have shifted remarkably. The shift has been significant enough to prompt fundamental questions about the international order and whether this new “unipolar moment” will last. Indeed, since 1989, political scientists have clamored to define the United States’ status relative to the rest of the world. Indispensable nation? Sole super...

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