[OPE-L:7415] Wallerstein: The Eagle Has Crash Landed

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Thu Jul 11 2002 - 10:36:45 EDT

The Eagle Has Crash Landed


Pax Americana is over. Challenges from Vietnam and the Balkans to the 
Middle East and September 11 have revealed the limits of American 
supremacy. Will the United States learn to fade quietly, or will U.S. 
conservatives resist and thereby transform a gradual decline into a 
rapid and dangerous fall?

By Immanuel Wallerstein

The United States in decline? Few people today would believe this 
assertion. The only ones who do are the U.S. hawks, who argue 
vociferously for policies to reverse the decline. This belief that 
the end of U.S. hegemony has already begun does not follow from the 
vulnerability that became apparent to all on September 11, 2001. In 
fact, the United States has been fading as a global power since the 
1970s, and the U.S. response to the terrorist attacks has merely 
accelerated this decline. To understand why the so-called Pax 
Americana is on the wane requires examining the geopolitics of the 
20th century, particularly of the century's final three decades. This 
exercise uncovers a simple and inescapable conclusion: The economic, 
political, and military factors that contributed to U.S. hegemony are 
the same factors that will inexorably produce the coming U.S. decline.

Intro to hegemony

The rise of the United States to global hegemony was a long process 
that began in earnest with the world recession of 1873. At that time, 
the United States and Germany began to acquire an increasing share of 
global markets, mainly at the expense of the steadily receding 
British economy. Both nations had recently acquired a stable 
political base—the United States by successfully terminating the 
Civil War and Germany by achieving unification and defeating France 
in the Franco-Prussian War. From 1873 to 1914, the United States and 
Germany became the principal producers in certain leading sectors: 
steel and later automobiles for the United States and industrial 
chemicals for Germany.

The history books record that World War I broke out in 1914 and ended 
in 1918 and that World War II lasted from 1939 to 1945. However, it 
makes more sense to consider the two as a single, continuous "30 
years' war" between the United States and Germany, with truces and 
local conflicts scattered in between. The competition for hegemonic 
succession took an ideological turn in 1933, when the Nazis came to 
power in Germany and began their quest to transcend the global system 
altogether, seeking not hegemony within the current system but rather 
a form of global empire. Recall the Nazi slogan ein tausendjähriges 
Reich (a thousand-year empire). In turn, the United States assumed 
the role of advocate of centrist world liberalism—recall former U.S. 
President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "four freedoms" (freedom of speech, 
of worship, from want, and from fear)—and entered into a strategic 
alliance with the Soviet Union, making possible the defeat of Germany 
and its allies.

World War II resulted in enormous destruction of infrastructure and 
populations throughout Eurasia, from the Atlantic to the Pacific 
oceans, with almost no country left unscathed. The only major 
industrial power in the world to emerge intact—and even greatly 
strengthened from an economic perspective—was the United States, 
which moved swiftly to consolidate its position.

But the aspiring hegemon faced some practical political obstacles. 
During the war, the Allied powers had agreed on the establishment of 
the United Nations, composed primarily of countries that had been in 
the coalition against the Axis powers. The organization's critical 
feature was the Security Council, the only structure that could 
authorize the use of force. Since the U.N. Charter gave the right of 
veto to five powers—including the United States and the Soviet 
Union—the council was rendered largely toothless in practice. So it 
was not the founding of the United Nations in April 1945 that 
determined the geopolitical constraints of the second half of the 
20th century but rather the Yalta meeting between Roosevelt, British 
Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin two 
months earlier.

The formal accords at Yalta were less important than the informal, 
unspoken agreements, which one can only assess by observing the 
behavior of the United States and the Soviet Union in the years that 
followed. When the war ended in Europe on May 8, 1945, Soviet and 
Western (that is, U.S., British, and French) troops were located in 
particular places—essentially, along a line in the center of Europe 
that came to be called the Oder-Neisse Line. Aside from a few minor 
adjustments, they stayed there. In hindsight, Yalta signified the 
agreement of both sides that they could stay there and that neither 
side would use force to push the other out. This tacit accord applied 
to Asia as well, as evinced by U.S. occupation of Japan and the 
division of Korea. Politically, therefore, Yalta was an agreement on 
the status quo in which the Soviet Union controlled about one third 
of the world and the United States the rest.

Washington also faced more serious military challenges. The Soviet 
Union had the world's largest land forces, while the U.S. government 
was under domestic pressure to downsize its army, particularly by 
ending the draft. The United States therefore decided to assert its 
military strength not via land forces but through a monopoly of 
nuclear weapons (plus an air force capable of deploying them). This 
monopoly soon disappeared: By 1949, the Soviet Union had developed 
nuclear weapons as well. Ever since, the United States has been 
reduced to trying to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons (and 
chemical and biological weapons) by additional powers, an effort 
that, in the 21st century, does not seem terribly successful.

Until 1991, the United States and the Soviet Union coexisted in the 
"balance of terror" of the Cold War. This status quo was tested 
seriously only three times: the Berlin blockade of 1948-49, the 
Korean War in 1950-53, and the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. The 
result in each case was restoration of the status quo. Moreover, note 
how each time the Soviet Union faced a political crisis among its 
satellite regimes—East Germany in 1953, Hungary in 1956, 
Czechoslovakia in 1968, and Poland in 1981—the United States engaged 
in little more than propaganda exercises, allowing the Soviet Union 
to proceed largely as it deemed fit.

Of course, this passivity did not extend to the economic arena. The 
United States capitalized on the Cold War ambiance to launch massive 
economic reconstruction efforts, first in Western Europe and then in 
Japan (as well as in South Korea and Taiwan). The rationale was 
obvious: What was the point of having such overwhelming productive 
superiority if the rest of the world could not muster effective 
demand? Furthermore, economic reconstruction helped create 
clientelistic obligations on the part of the nations receiving U.S. 
aid; this sense of obligation fostered willingness to enter into 
military alliances and, even more important, into political 

Finally, one should not underestimate the ideological and cultural 
component of U.S. hegemony. The immediate post-1945 period may have 
been the historical high point for the popularity of communist 
ideology. We easily forget today the large votes for Communist 
parties in free elections in countries such as Belgium, France, 
Italy, Czechoslovakia, and Finland, not to mention the support 
Communist parties gathered in Asia—in Vietnam, India, and Japan—and 
throughout Latin America. And that still leaves out areas such as 
China, Greece, and Iran, where free elections remained absent or 
constrained but where Communist parties enjoyed widespread appeal. In 
response, the United States sustained a massive anticommunist 
ideological offensive. In retrospect, this initiative appears largely 
successful: Washington brandished its role as the leader of the "free 
world" at least as effectively as the Soviet Union brandished its 
position as the leader of the "progressive" and "anti-imperialist" 

One, Two, Many Vietnams

The United States' success as a hegemonic power in the postwar period 
created the conditions of the nation's hegemonic demise. This process 
is captured in four symbols: the war in Vietnam, the revolutions of 
1968, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the terrorist attacks 
of September 2001. Each symbol built upon the prior one, culminating 
in the situation in which the United States currently finds itself—a 
lone superpower that lacks true power, a world leader nobody follows 
and few respect, and a nation drifting dangerously amidst a global 
chaos it cannot control.

What was the Vietnam War? First and foremost, it was the effort of 
the Vietnamese people to end colonial rule and establish their own 
state. The Vietnamese fought the French, the Japanese, and the 
Americans, and in the end the Vietnamese won—quite an achievement, 
actually. Geopolitically, however, the war represented a rejection of 
the Yalta status quo by populations then labeled as Third World. 
Vietnam became such a powerful symbol because Washington was foolish 
enough to invest its full military might in the struggle, but the 
United States still lost. True, the United States didn't deploy 
nuclear weapons (a decision certain myopic groups on the right have 
long reproached), but such use would have shattered the Yalta accords 
and might have produced a nuclear holocaust—an outcome the United 
States simply could not risk.

But Vietnam was not merely a military defeat or a blight on U.S. 
prestige. The war dealt a major blow to the United States' ability to 
remain the world's dominant economic power. The conflict was 
extremely expensive and more or less used up the U.S. gold reserves 
that had been so plentiful since 1945. Moreover, the United States 
incurred these costs just as Western Europe and Japan experienced 
major economic upswings. These conditions ended U.S. preeminence in 
the global economy. Since the late 1960s, members of this triad have 
been nearly economic equals, each doing better than the others for 
certain periods but none moving far ahead.

When the revolutions of 1968 broke out around the world, support for 
the Vietnamese became a major rhetorical component. "One, two, many 
Vietnams" and "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh" were chanted in many a street, 
not least in the United States. But the 1968ers did not merely 
condemn U.S. hegemony. They condemned Soviet collusion with the 
United States, they condemned Yalta, and they used or adapted the 
language of the Chinese cultural revolutionaries who divided the 
world into two camps—the two superpowers and the rest of the world.

The denunciation of Soviet collusion led logically to the 
denunciation of those national forces closely allied with the Soviet 
Union, which meant in most cases the traditional Communist parties. 
But the 1968 revolutionaries also lashed out against other components 
of the Old Left—national liberation movements in the Third World, 
social-democratic movements in Western Europe, and New Deal Democrats 
in the United States—accusing them, too, of collusion with what the 
revolutionaries generically termed "U.S. imperialism."

The attack on Soviet collusion with Washington plus the attack on the 
Old Left further weakened the legitimacy of the Yalta arrangements on 
which the United States had fashioned the world order. It also 
undermined the position of centrist liberalism as the lone, 
legitimate global ideology. The direct political consequences of the 
world revolutions of 1968 were minimal, but the geopolitical and 
intellectual repercussions were enormous and irrevocable. Centrist 
liberalism tumbled from the throne it had occupied since the European 
revolutions of 1848 and that had enabled it to co-opt conservatives 
and radicals alike. These ideologies returned and once again 
represented a real gamut of choices. Conservatives would again become 
conservatives, and radicals, radicals. The centrist liberals did not 
disappear, but they were cut down to size. And in the process, the 
official U.S. ideological position—antifascist, anticommunist, 
anticolonialist—seemed thin and unconvincing to a growing portion of 
the world's populations.

The Powerless Superpower

The onset of international economic stagnation in the 1970s had two 
important consequences for U.S. power. First, stagnation resulted in 
the collapse of "developmentalism"—the notion that every nation could 
catch up economically if the state took appropriate action—which was 
the principal ideological claim of the Old Left movements then in 
power. One after another, these regimes faced internal disorder, 
declining standards of living, increasing debt dependency on 
international financial institutions, and eroding credibility. What 
had seemed in the 1960s to be the successful navigation of Third 
World decolonization by the United States—minimizing disruption and 
maximizing the smooth transfer of power to regimes that were 
developmentalist but scarcely revolutionary—gave way to 
disintegrating order, simmering discontents, and unchanneled radical 
temperaments. When the United States tried to intervene, it failed. 
In 1983, U.S. President Ronald Reagan sent troops to Lebanon to 
restore order. The troops were in effect forced out. He compensated 
by invading Grenada, a country without troops. President George H.W. 
Bush invaded Panama, another country without troops. But after he 
intervened in Somalia to restore order, the United States was in 
effect forced out, somewhat ignominiously. Since there was little the 
U.S. government could actually do to reverse the trend of declining 
hegemony, it chose simply to ignore this trend—a policy that 
prevailed from the withdrawal from Vietnam until September 11, 2001.

Meanwhile, true conservatives began to assume control of key states 
and interstate institutions. The neoliberal offensive of the 1980s 
was marked by the Thatcher and Reagan regimes and the emergence of 
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a key actor on the world 
scene. Where once (for more than a century) conservative forces had 
attempted to portray themselves as wiser liberals, now centrist 
liberals were compelled to argue that they were more effective 
conservatives. The conservative programs were clear. Domestically, 
conservatives tried to enact policies that would reduce the cost of 
labor, minimize environmental constraints on producers, and cut back 
on state welfare benefits. Actual successes were modest, so 
conservatives then moved vigorously into the international arena. The 
gatherings of the World Economic Forum in Davos provided a meeting 
ground for elites and the media. The IMF provided a club for finance 
ministers and central bankers. And the United States pushed for the 
creation of the World Trade Organization to enforce free commercial 
flows across the world's frontiers.

While the United States wasn't watching, the Soviet Union was 
collapsing. Yes, Ronald Reagan had dubbed the Soviet Union an "evil 
empire" and had used the rhetorical bombast of calling for the 
destruction of the Berlin Wall, but the United States didn't really 
mean it and certainly was not responsible for the Soviet Union's 
downfall. In truth, the Soviet Union and its East European imperial 
zone collapsed because of popular disillusionment with the Old Left 
in combination with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's efforts to save 
his regime by liquidating Yalta and instituting internal 
liberalization (perestroika plus glasnost). Gorbachev succeeded in 
liquidating Yalta but not in saving the Soviet Union (although he 
almost did, be it said).

The United States was stunned and puzzled by the sudden collapse, 
uncertain how to handle the consequences. The collapse of communism 
in effect signified the collapse of liberalism, removing the only 
ideological justification behind U.S. hegemony, a justification 
tacitly supported by liberalism's ostensible ideological opponent. 
This loss of legitimacy led directly to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, 
which Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein would never have dared had the 
Yalta arrangements remained in place. In retrospect, U.S. efforts in 
the Gulf War accomplished a truce at basically the same line of 
departure. But can a hegemonic power be satisfied with a tie in a war 
with a middling regional power? Saddam demonstrated that one could 
pick a fight with the United States and get away with it. Even more 
than the defeat in Vietnam, Saddam's brash challenge has eaten at the 
innards of the U.S. right, in particular those known as the hawks, 
which explains the fervor of their current desire to invade Iraq and 
destroy its regime.

Between the Gulf War and September 11, 2001, the two major arenas of 
world conflict were the Balkans and the Middle East. The United 
States has played a major diplomatic role in both regions. Looking 
back, how different would the results have been had the United States 
assumed a completely isolationist position? In the Balkans, an 
economically successful multinational state (Yugoslavia) broke down, 
essentially into its component parts. Over 10 years, most of the 
resulting states have engaged in a process of ethnification, 
experiencing fairly brutal violence, widespread human rights 
violations, and outright wars. Outside intervention—in which the 
United States figured most prominently—brought about a truce and 
ended the most egregious violence, but this intervention in no way 
reversed the ethnification, which is now consolidated and somewhat 
legitimated. Would these conflicts have ended differently without 
U.S. involvement? The violence might have continued longer, but the 
basic results would probably not have been too different. The picture 
is even grimmer in the Middle East, where, if anything, U.S. 
engagement has been deeper and its failures more spectacular. In the 
Balkans and the Middle East alike, the United States has failed to 
exert its hegemonic clout effectively, not for want of will or effort 
but for want of real power.

The Hawks Undone

Then came September 11—the shock and the reaction. Under fire from 
U.S. legislators, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) now claims it 
had warned the Bush administration of possible threats. But despite 
the CIA's focus on al Qaeda and the agency's intelligence expertise, 
it could not foresee (and therefore, prevent) the execution of the 
terrorist strikes. Or so would argue CIA Director George Tenet. This 
testimony can hardly comfort the U.S. government or the American 
people. Whatever else historians may decide, the attacks of September 
11, 2001, posed a major challenge to U.S. power. The persons 
responsible did not represent a major military power. They were 
members of a nonstate force, with a high degree of determination, 
some money, a band of dedicated followers, and a strong base in one 
weak state. In short, militarily, they were nothing. Yet they 
succeeded in a bold attack on U.S. soil.

George W. Bush came to power very critical of the Clinton 
administration's handling of world affairs. Bush and his advisors did 
not admit—but were undoubtedly aware—that Clinton's path had been the 
path of every U.S. president since Gerald Ford, including that of 
Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. It had even been the path of the 
current Bush administration before September 11. One only needs to 
look at how Bush handled the downing of the U.S. plane off China in 
April 2001 to see that prudence had been the name of the game.

Following the terrorist attacks, Bush changed course, declaring war 
on terrorism, assuring the American people that "the outcome is 
certain" and informing the world that "you are either with us or 
against us." Long frustrated by even the most conservative U.S. 
administrations, the hawks finally came to dominate American policy. 
Their position is clear: The United States wields overwhelming 
military power, and even though countless foreign leaders consider it 
unwise for Washington to flex its military muscles, these same 
leaders cannot and will not do anything if the United States simply 
imposes its will on the rest. The hawks believe the United States 
should act as an imperial power for two reasons: First, the United 
States can get away with it. And second, if Washington doesn't exert 
its force, the United States will become increasingly marginalized.

Today, this hawkish position has three expressions: the military 
assault in Afghanistan, the de facto support for the Israeli attempt 
to liquidate the Palestinian Authority, and the invasion of Iraq, 
which is reportedly in the military preparation stage. Less than one 
year after the September 2001 terrorist attacks, it is perhaps too 
early to assess what such strategies will accomplish. Thus far, these 
schemes have led to the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan 
(without the complete dismantling of al Qaeda or the capture of its 
top leadership); enormous destruction in Palestine (without rendering 
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat "irrelevant," as Israeli Prime 
Minister Ariel Sharon said he is); and heavy opposition from U.S. 
allies in Europe and the Middle East to plans for an invasion of Iraq.

The hawks' reading of recent events emphasizes that opposition to 
U.S. actions, while serious, has remained largely verbal. Neither 
Western Europe nor Russia nor China nor Saudi Arabia has seemed ready 
to break ties in serious ways with the United States. In other words, 
hawks believe, Washington has indeed gotten away with it. The hawks 
assume a similar outcome will occur when the U.S. military actually 
invades Iraq and after that, when the United States exercises its 
authority elsewhere in the world, be it in Iran, North Korea, 
Colombia, or perhaps Indonesia. Ironically, the hawk reading has 
largely become the reading of the international left, which has been 
screaming about U.S. policies—mainly because they fear that the 
chances of U.S. success are high.

But hawk interpretations are wrong and will only contribute to the 
United States' decline, transforming a gradual descent into a much 
more rapid and turbulent fall. Specifically, hawk approaches will 
fail for military, economic, and ideological reasons.

Undoubtedly, the military remains the United States' strongest card; 
in fact, it is the only card. Today, the United States wields the 
most formidable military apparatus in the world. And if claims of 
new, unmatched military technologies are to be believed, the U.S. 
military edge over the rest of the world is considerably greater 
today than it was just a decade ago. But does that mean, then, that 
the United States can invade Iraq, conquer it rapidly, and install a 
friendly and stable regime? Unlikely. Bear in mind that of the three 
serious wars the U.S. military has fought since 1945 (Korea, Vietnam, 
and the Gulf War), one ended in defeat and two in draws—not exactly a 
glorious record.

Saddam Hussein's army is not that of the Taliban, and his internal 
military control is far more coherent. A U.S. invasion would 
necessarily involve a serious land force, one that would have to 
fight its way to Baghdad and would likely suffer significant 
casualties. Such a force would also need staging grounds, and Saudi 
Arabia has made clear that it will not serve in this capacity. Would 
Kuwait or Turkey help out? Perhaps, if Washington calls in all its 
chips. Meanwhile, Saddam can be expected to deploy all weapons at his 
disposal, and it is precisely the U.S. government that keeps fretting 
over how nasty those weapons might be. The United States may twist 
the arms of regimes in the region, but popular sentiment clearly 
views the whole affair as reflecting a deep anti-Arab bias in the 
United States. Can such a conflict be won? The British General Staff 
has apparently already informed Prime Minister Tony Blair that it 
does not believe so.

And there is always the matter of "second fronts." Following the Gulf 
War, U.S. armed forces sought to prepare for the possibility of two 
simultaneous regional wars. After a while, the Pentagon quietly 
abandoned the idea as impractical and costly. But who can be sure 
that no potential U.S. enemies would strike when the United States 
appears bogged down in Iraq?

Consider, too, the question of U.S. popular tolerance of 
nonvictories. Americans hover between a patriotic fervor that lends 
support to all wartime presidents and a deep isolationist urge. Since 
1945, patriotism has hit a wall whenever the death toll has risen. 
Why should today's reaction differ? And even if the hawks (who are 
almost all civilians) feel impervious to public opinion, U.S. Army 
generals, burnt by Vietnam, do not.

And what about the economic front? In the 1980s, countless American 
analysts became hysterical over the Japanese economic miracle. They 
calmed down in the 1990s, given Japan's well-publicized financial 
difficulties. Yet after overstating how quickly Japan was moving 
forward, U.S. authorities now seem to be complacent, confident that 
Japan lags far behind. These days, Washington seems more inclined to 
lecture Japanese policymakers about what they are doing wrong.

Such triumphalism hardly appears warranted. Consider the following 
April 20, 2002, New York Times report: "A Japanese laboratory has 
built the world's fastest computer, a machine so powerful that it 
matches the raw processing power of the 20 fastest American computers 
combined and far outstrips the previous leader, an I.B.M.-built 
machine. The achievement ... is evidence that a technology race that 
most American engineers thought they were winning handily is far from 
over." The analysis goes on to note that there are "contrasting 
scientific and technological priorities" in the two countries. The 
Japanese machine is built to analyze climatic change, but U.S. 
machines are designed to simulate weapons. This contrast embodies the 
oldest story in the history of hegemonic powers. The dominant power 
concentrates (to its detriment) on the military; the candidate for 
successor concentrates on the economy. The latter has always paid 
off, handsomely. It did for the United States. Why should it not pay 
off for Japan as well, perhaps in alliance with China?

Finally, there is the ideological sphere. Right now, the U.S. economy 
seems relatively weak, even more so considering the exorbitant 
military expenses associated with hawk strategies. Moreover, 
Washington remains politically isolated; virtually no one (save 
Israel) thinks the hawk position makes sense or is worth encouraging. 
Other nations are afraid or unwilling to stand up to Washington 
directly, but even their foot-dragging is hurting the United States.

Yet the U.S. response amounts to little more than arrogant 
arm-twisting. Arrogance has its own negatives. Calling in chips means 
leaving fewer chips for next time, and surly acquiescence breeds 
increasing resentment. Over the last 200 years, the United States 
acquired a considerable amount of ideological credit. But these days, 
the United States is running through this credit even faster than it 
ran through its gold surplus in the 1960s.

The United States faces two possibilities during the next 10 years: 
It can follow the hawks' path, with negative consequences for all but 
especially for itself. Or it can realize that the negatives are too 
great. Simon Tisdall of the Guardian recently argued that even 
disregarding international public opinion, "the U.S. is not able to 
fight a successful Iraqi war by itself without incurring immense 
damage, not least in terms of its economic interests and its energy 
supply. Mr. Bush is reduced to talking tough and looking 
ineffectual." And if the United States still invades Iraq and is then 
forced to withdraw, it will look even more ineffectual.

President Bush's options appear extremely limited, and there is 
little doubt that the United States will continue to decline as a 
decisive force in world affairs over the next decade. The real 
question is not whether U.S. hegemony is waning but whether the 
United States can devise a way to descend gracefully, with minimum 
damage to the world, and to itself.

Immanuel Wallerstein is a senior research scholar at Yale University 
and author of, most recently, The End of the World As We Know It: 
Social Science for the Twenty-First Century (Minneapolis: University 
of Minnesota Press, 1999).

Want to Know More?


This article draws from the research reported in Terence K. Hopkins 
and Immanuel Wallerstein's, eds., The Age of Transition: Trajectory 
of the World-System, 1945-2025 (London: Zed Books, 1996). In his new 
book, The Paradox of American Power: Why the World's Only Superpower 
Can't Go It Alone (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), Joseph 
S. Nye Jr. argues that the United States can remain on top, provided 
it emphasizes multilateralism. For a less optimistic view, see Thomas 
J. McCormick's America's Half-Century: United States Foreign Policy 
in the Cold War and After, 2nd ed. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins 
University Press, 1995). David Calleo's latest book, Rethinking 
Europe's Future (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), 
cogently analyzes the ins and outs of the European Union and its 
potential impact on U.S. power in the world.

In 1993, the Norwegian Nobel Committee convened a meeting of leading 
international analysts to discuss the role and influence of 
superpowers throughout history. Their analyses can be found in Geir 
Lundestad's, ed., The Fall of Great Powers: Stability, Peace and 
Legitimacy (Oslo: Scandinavian University Press, 1994), which 
includes essays by William H. McNeill, Istvan Deak, Alec Nove, 
Wolfgang J. Mommsen, Robert Gilpin, Wang Gungwu, John Lewis Gaddis, 
and Paul Kennedy, among others. Eric Hobsbawm offers a splendid 
geopolitical analysis of the 20th century in The Age of Extremes: A 
History of the World, 1914-1991 (New York: Pantheon, 1994). Giovanni 
Arrighi, Beverly J. Silver, and their collaborators take a longer 
view of hegemonic transitions over the centuries—from Dutch to 
British, from British to American, from American to some uncertain 
future hegemon—in Chaos and Governance in the Modern World System 
(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999). Finally, it is 
always useful to return to André Fontaine's classic History of the 
Cold War (New York: Pantheon, 1968).

Foreign Policy's extensive coverage of American hegemony and the U.S. 
role in the world includes, most recently, "In Praise of Cultural 
Imperialism?" (Summer 1997) by David Rothkopf, "The Benevolent 
Empire" (Summer 1998) by Robert Kagan, "The Perils of (and for) an 
Imperial America" (Summer 1998) by Charles William Maynes, "Americans 
and the World: A Survey at the Century's End" (Spring 1999) by John 
E. Rielly, "Vox Americani" (September/October 2001) by Steven Kull, 
and "The Dependent Colossus" (March/April 2002) by Joseph S. Nye Jr.


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