Plunging sky over America

by Ron Coleman | May 4, 2008 12:00 pm

Lexington Green:[1]

[2][P]utting aside the bogus and irresponsible notion of “unipolarity”, I suppose it is fair to say, in a taxonomic rather than invidious way, that America is the global hegemon. It is the primary provider of security, it is the primary determiner of the rules of the international game, etc.

So let’s be charitable to Mr. Haass and say that he is really talking about the displacement of the USA as the global hegemon. He does mix up his terms and also refers to the end of U.S. “primacy” — a word he uses incorrectly as if were synonymous with “unipolarity”.

The last global hegemon, Britain, was superseded by a much bigger entity, the good old USA. That transition process was ugly. It involved two world wars and a global depression.

I see no entity that can fill the role of global hegemon in the place of the USA.

The EU cannot do it. China cannot yet do it.

Many players have a stake in the US-led world order, and whatever irritation American primacy may cause, they will prefer the devil they know and will not like to see the uncertainly and risk of a new one replacing it.

I remember hearing about the imminent decline[3] of the “American Empire” since the early 1970’s. It grows tired, and it it premised incorrectly on the assumption that, just as previous hegemons have declined, so must all hegemony. Lexington Green explains why, as a local matter, that does not seem likely at the moment. But there are other reasons why it is possible, perhaps, that American dominance could in fact last much, much longer than predicted by two main types of people: Those antagonistic to it, mainly on the left, and those on the right who pretend to rue its inevitable collapse, but really use predictions of such collapse as a rhetorical device to urge (typically reactionary) policies that are “the only way” to save Old Glory. What are these possible reasons?

I could be wrong. It could all fold tomorrow. And it may not be all that terrible if it does. But considering that “they’ve” been predicting that tomorrow as frequently as Paul Krugman predicts imminent recession, and for even longer, thinking about these points could make your next cocktail party chat on this topic a little more interesting.

Cross-posted on Likelihood of Success[5].

  1. Lexington Green::
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  3. imminent decline:
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  5. Likelihood of Success:

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