BEYOND THE BUSH TRINE Australian New Zealand

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					AUSTRALASIAN JOURNAL OF AMERICAN STUDIES                                   63


                      MARTIN GRIFFITHS
                            The scar does the work of the wound.1

This article elaborates the changing nature of American hegemony in
international relations, and assesses the Bush Administration’s
determination to change the basis of US hegemony in the context of its
proclaimed ‘war on terror’. I argue that the Administration’s grand strategy
is self-defeating, threatening the status of the United States as a benign
hegemon without enhancing its security. However, on the assumption that
the neo-conservative influence over American foreign policy will wane in
the coming months and years, the United States can still take advantage of
its unprecedented power to promote a more sustainable world order. The
paper begins with an examination of American hegemony in international
relations. I then discuss the manner in which the terms of that hegemony
have been changed by the current Administration under the guise of the war
on terror. The third section is a critical analysis of American grand strategy,
and the article concludes with an assessment of the conditions under which
the United States can sustain its dwindling hegemony in the years to come.

United States Hegemony and the Cold War

Hegemonia, in the original Greek sense, means ‘leadership’. In international
relations, a hegemon is the ‘leader’ or ‘leading state’ of a group of states.
The central idea behind hegemonic stability in international relations theory
is that the world needs a single dominant state to create and enforce the
rules (such as ‘free trade’) among the most important members of the
system. To be a hegemon, a state must have the capability to enforce the
rules of the system, the will to do so, and a commitment to a system that is
perceived as mutually beneficial for the major states. In turn, capability rests
upon three attributes; a large, growing economy, dominance in leading
technological or economic sectors, and political power backed up by
military power.2

Hegemony consists of the possession and command over a multifaceted set
of power resources. More importantly, all hegemonic states share one
common characteristic. They enjoy ‘structural power’, or what Nye has
termed ‘soft power’.3 It is this structural power that permits the hegemon to
occupy a central position within the system, and, if it so chooses, to play a
leading role in it. Indeed, the ability to shape other states’ preferences and
interests is just as important as the hegemon’s ability to command raw

power resources, for the exercise of structural power makes it far less likely
that the hegemon will have to mobilise its resources in a direct and coercive

As long as a hegemon maintains a preponderance of power, other states are
inclined to accept its leadership, since challenging a hegemon can be a risky
venture. However, historical change promotes shifts in power
preponderance over time. Other states begin to rise in power, due to uneven
rates of economic growth and the diffusion of technological progress, and
the hegemon declines, relatively or absolutely. Historically, when a rising
power or powers sees an opportunity to challenge and displace an existing
hegemon, the risk of major war is high.5 Thus, when British hegemony
declined in the face of the rising challenge from Germany, the stage was set
for the First World War. The theory of hegemonic stability was developed
in the 1970s and 1980s by American scholars from the realist tradition who
identified the distribution of power among states as a central factor in
explaining the openness and stability of the international economy.6 A
powerful state with a technological advantage over other states will desire
an open trading system as it seeks new export markets. Large states are less
exposed to the international economy than small ones. A hegemonic state
will allow other states to ‘free ride’ on the benefits that the hegemon
provides to the international economy in the form of public goods.7 These
are the kind of goods where exclusion of consumers is impossible and
consumption of the good by one actor does not exhaust its availability for
others. In international economic affairs an open trading system, well-
defined property rights, common standards of measures including
international money, consistent macroeconomic policies, proper action in
case of economic crisis, and stable exchange rates are said to be public

In international relations, an established hegemony helps the cause of
international peace in a number of ways. First, a hegemon deters renewed
military competition and provides general security through its preponderant
power. Second, a hegemon can, if it chooses, strengthen international norms
of conduct. Third, a hegemon’s economic power serves as the basis of a
global lending system and free trade regime, providing economic incentives
for states to cooperate and forego wars for resources and markets. Such was
the nature of British hegemony in the nineteenth century, hence the term
Pax Britannica. After the Second World War, the United States has
performed the roles that Britain once played, though with an even greater
preponderance of power. Thus, much of the peace between democracies
after World War Two can be explained by the fact that the political-military
hegemony of the United States has helped to create a security structure in
Europe and the Pacific conducive to peaceful interaction. Today, American
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hegemony is tolerated by many states in Europe and Asia, not because the
United States is particularly liked, but because of the perception that its
absence might result in aggression by aspiring regional hegemons.
However, Chalmers Johnson has argued that this is a false perception
promoted from Washington to silence demands for its military withdrawal
from Japan and South Korea.8

It is true that hegemonic stability theory can be classified as belonging in
the realist tradition because of its focus on the importance of power
structures in international politics. The problem is that power alone cannot
explain why some states choose to follow or acquiesce to one hegemon
while vigorously opposing and forming counter-alliances against another
hegemon. Thus when international relations theorists employ the concept of
hegemonic stability, they supplement it with the concept of legitimacy.9
Legitimacy in international society refers simply to the perceived justice of
the international system. As in domestic politics, legitimacy is a notoriously
difficult factor to pin down and measure. Still, one cannot do away with the
concept, since it is clear that all political orders rely to some extent on
consent in addition to coercion.

Hegemony without legitimacy is insufficient to deter violent challenges to
the international order, and may provoke attempts to build counter-alliances
against the hegemon. Hegemonic authority which accepts the principle of
the independence of states and treats states with a relative degree of
benevolence is more easily accepted. The legitimacy of American
hegemony during the cold war was facilitated by two important
characteristics of the era. First, the communist threat (whether real or
imaginary) disguised the tension between the United States’ promotion of
its own interests and its claim to make the world safe for capitalism.10
Second, American hegemony managed to combine economic liberalism
between industrialised states with an institutional architecture (the Bretton
Woods system) that moderated the volatility of transaction flows across
borders. It enabled governments to provide social investments, safety nets
and adjustment assistance at the domestic level.11

In the industrialised world, this grand bargain formed the basis of the
longest and most equitable economic expansion in human history, from the
1950s to the 1980s. And it provided the institutional foundation for the
newest wave of globalisation, which began not long thereafter and is far
broader in scope and deeper in reach than its nineteenth century antecedent.
The system that the United States led the way in creating after 1945 has
fared well because the connecting and restraining aspects of democracy and
institutions reduce the incentives for Western nations to engage in strategic
rivalry or balance against American hegemony. The strength of this order is

attested to by the longevity of its institutions, alliances and arrangements,
based on their legitimacy in the eyes of the participants. Reacting against
the closed autarchic regions that had contributed to the world depression
and split the globe into competing blocs before the war, the United States
led the way in constructing a post-war order that was based on economic
openness, joint management of the Western political-economic order, and
rules and institutions that were organised to support domestic economic
stability and social security.12

This order in turn was built around a basic bargain: the hegemonic state
obtains commitments from secondary states to participate in the
international order, and the hegemon in return places limits on the exercise
of its power. The advantage for the weak state is that it does not fear
domination or abandonment, reducing the incentive to balance against the
hegemon, and the leading state does not need to use its power to actively
enforce order and compliance. It is these restraints on both sides and the
willingness to participate in this mutual accord that explains the longevity of
the system, even after the end of the cold war. But as the founder and
defender of this international order, the United States, far from being a
domineering hegemon, was a reluctant superpower.

American Grand Strategy and the War on Terror:
From Hegemony to Empire?

I now turn to the manner in which the Bush Administration is conducting its
war on terror. The scope of American policy change is difficult to gauge
partly because policy making is an unfolding process whose aims cannot be
easily summed up. In addition, policy is partly the outcome of a struggle
between different voices within the Bush Administration.13 Despite these
problems of interpretation, the broad contours of American grand strategy
are clear. In particular, it is characterised by two dramatic shifts away from
the means by which the United States established and maintained its
hegemony during the cold war.

The first departure is from multilateralism to unilateralism. The difference
between the two is a matter of degree rather than kind, but there is no
question that the United States no longer regards itself as bound by the three
cardinal principles of multilateral arrangements in the areas of security or
the management of the global economy. The principles are non-
discrimination, indivisibility and diffuse reciprocity. Non-discrimination
means that states should carry out their treaty obligations without any
contingencies or exceptions based on alliances, or on the idiosyncrasies of
the circumstances at hand. The most often cited example of such non-
discrimination is the obligation of states to extend Most Favoured Nation
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(MFN) status to all other states in the trading regime governed by the World
Trade Organisation. Next comes the principle of indivisibility. In the context
of military cooperation, for example, states are required to meet their
commitments to all other states in a collective security institution, such as
the United Nations. Finally, the principle of diffuse reciprocity means that
continuity in the application of the principles of non-discrimination and
indivisibility is an essential ingredient of multilateral arrangements.
Episodic, ‘single-shot’ instances of inter-state cooperation within the
context of otherwise individually competitive or hostile relations among
states do not qualify as multilateral. Instead, joint participation has to take
place over an extended period of time and so comes to be predicated upon,
and become the basis for, anticipations about the longer-run functioning of
the collective agreement. Multilateralism, then, is a particular way of
bringing together international actors to support cooperation, incorporating
principles of non-discrimination, diffuse reciprocity, and generalised
institutional structures.

Where does Bush White House stand on this continuum between
unilateralism and multilateralism? Despite all the talk about coalition
building in the wake of 9/11, the terrorist attacks have been seen by the
Administration as an attack on the United States, and the Administration
reserves the right to respond as it sees fit. Consequently, the United States
has, among other things, attempted and/or is perceived as attempting
    • to pressure other countries to adopt American values and practices
         regarding human rights and democracy whilst subverting the rights
         of ‘enemy combatants’;
    • to prevent other countries acquiring military capabilities that could
         counter American conventional superiority;
    • to grade countries according to their adherence to American
         standards on human rights, drugs, terrorism, nuclear proliferation,
         and missile proliferation;
    • to promote American corporate interests under the slogans of free
         trade and open markets, and to shape World Bank and IMF policies
         to serve those same corporate interests;
    • to apply sanctions against countries that do not meet American
         standards on those and other issues;
    • to opt out of obligations that may infringe the sovereignty of the
         United States, such as those of the International Criminal Court;
    • to withdraw from arms control agreements that hinder the pursuit of
         a National Missile Defence.

The second shift in American foreign policy is away from the idea of
deterrence and toward a policy of coercive diplomacy against countries that

the Administration defines as ‘rogue states’, such as Iraq, Iran and North
Korea.14 The phrase ‘coercive diplomacy’ is preferable to that of
‘preemption’. Coercive diplomacy (the credible threat to use force to shape
another state’s behaviour) is not limited to the traditional definition of
preemption - striking an enemy as it prepares an attack - but also includes
prevention - striking an enemy even in the absence of specific evidence of a
coming attack. The idea principally appears to be directed at terrorist groups
as well as rogue states. The Administration asserts that deterrence of the
kind that prevailed during the cold war is unlikely to work with respect to
rogue states and terrorists (which the Administration claims are not risk-
averse) and which allegedly view weapons of mass destruction not as
weapons of last resort but as weapons of choice.

Assessing the Changes

Obviously, much more could be said (and has been said) about these recent
shifts in American foreign policy.15 Rather than repeat what has been
elaborated at length by other commentators, or to defend multilateralism
and deterrence per se, I will focus on the implications of the changes for
American hegemony. Ironically, whilst I suspect that they will ultimately
weaken American hegemonic influence, the changes are themselves made
possible by the fact that the United States is a unipolar power, a superpower
capable of conducting or organizing politico-military action anywhere in the
world. However, hegemony is present in a system when there is a unipolar
structure of influence to match the unipolar structure of capabilities. The
mismatch between military preponderance and declining hegemony is likely
to increase as a result of three main factors.

First, American grand strategy reinforces the image of the United States as
too quick to use military force and to do so outside the bounds of
international law and legitimacy. This can make it more difficult for the
United States to gain international support for its use of force, and over the
long term, may lead others to resist US foreign policy goals more broadly,
including its efforts to fight terrorism. Elevating pre-emption to the level of
a formal doctrine may also increase the Administration’s inclination to
reach for the military lever quickly, when other tools still have a good
chance of working. Other states may wish to emulate the precedent set by
the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq, at the same time reducing its
leverage to convince such countries not to use force. This concern is
theoretical at one level, since it relates to stated doctrine as opposed to
actual U.S. actions. But it is very real at another level. Today’s international
system is characterised by a relative infrequency of interstate war.
Developing doctrines that lower the threshold for pre-emptive action could
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put that accomplishment at risk, and exacerbate regional crises already on
the brink of open conflict.

Of course, no country will embark suddenly on a war of aggression simply
because the United States provides it with a quasi-legal justification to do
so. But countries already on the brink of war, or leaning strongly towards
war, might use the doctrine to justify an action they already wished to take,
and the effect of the American posture may make it harder for the
international community in general, and the United States in particular, to
counsel delay and diplomacy. Potential examples abound, ranging from
Ethiopia and Eritrea, to China and Taiwan, to the Middle East. But perhaps
the clearest case is the India-Pakistan crisis. In 2002, India was poised to
attack Pakistan, given Pakistan’s suspected complicity in assisting Islamic
extremist terrorists who went from Pakistan into the disputed territory of
Kashmir. A combination of American pressure on both countries, with some
last-minute caution by the leaders of Pakistan and India, narrowly averted a
war that had the potential to escalate to the nuclear level once it began.
Although India might have intended to limit its action to eliminating
terrorist bases in Pakistan-held Kashmir and perhaps some bases inside
Pakistan, nuclear-armed Pakistan might well have believed that India's
intentions were to overthrow the regime in Islamabad or to eliminate its
nuclear weapons capability. That situation would have further exacerbated
the risks of escalation. Kashmir's status remains contentious, despite
improved relations between India and Pakistan in recent months. Should the
crisis resume, the Bush doctrine of pre-emption may provide hawks in India
the added ammunition they need to justify a strike against Pakistan in the
eyes of their fellow Indian decision-makers. Russia’s threats against the
sovereign state of Georgia, which it accuses of protecting or at least failing
to pursue Islamic extremists tied to the Chechen war, also illustrate the
dangers of legitimating an easy and early recourse to pre-emption.

Second, the Bush Administration’s grand strategy is predicated upon the
apparent need to avoid the very constraints on unilateralism that define the
meaning of multilateralism as not just a type of cooperative behaviour, but
an institution of world order. What we have witnessed since 9/11 (although
the trend preceded that event) is the rapid decay of international
organisations as the United States seeks to liberate itself from multilateral
constraints, without any attempt to reform existing international institutions
or to replace them. In the 1990s, the United Nations was gradually displaced
from its primary responsibility for maintaining peace and security in favour
of a revitalised NATO, which provided the multilateral cover for US
military action in the Balkans. In the war against Iraq, the process was taken
a step further as NATO was itself sidelined in favour of a ‘coalition of the
willing’. In the area of trade, the United States has pursued a series of ‘free

trade’ arrangements with selected regions, including Australia, rather than
focus its efforts through the World Trade Organisation. The United States
rewards countries that acquiesce in its unilateral approach with access to the
American market, exemption from sanctions of one sort or another, foreign
aid, military assistance, silence about deviations from U.S. norms (as with
Saudi human rights and Israeli nuclear weapons), bribes and White House
visits for political leaders, and in a variety of other ways. Given the private
goods the United States can distribute, the sensible course for other
countries may well be not to balance against the United States but to
‘bandwagon’ with it. Over time, however, if U.S. economic power declines,
the benefits to be gained by cooperating with the United States will decline
as will the costs of opposing it. In addition to its budget deficit of around
US$300 billion, the United States is presiding over an annual trade deficit of
US500 billion.16 The measures necessary to deal with the twin deficits
include the weakening of the dollar and higher taxes and interest rates, all of
which will perpetuate the economic problems of the United States.

Third, there is a fundamental tension between American support for neo-
liberal forms of economic globalisation and the war on terror. There is
compelling evidence that although inequality and poverty do not in
themselves cause terrorism, when combined with the absence of what
Michael Mousseau (2002/03) calls ‘market civilization’ in many developing
countries, they feed much of the anti-American resentment that sustains
sympathy for, if not participation in, terrorist organizations such as al-
Qaeda.17 The consequences of neo-liberal policies at the global level have
been the subject of much academic debate in recent years, but it is clear that
the benefits of globalisation are distributed in an extremely uneven
fashion.18 Large parts of the developing world are left behind entirely. These
are the countries where more than one billion people somehow survive on
US$1 a day, or nearly three billion on US$2 a day; where nearly half of
humanity has never made or received a telephone call; where one fifth of
the world’s people lack access to safe drinking water. Africa is less
integrated into the global economy today than a decade ago, largely as a
result of falling commodity prices. But even in the United States, the
unprecedented boom of the 1990s lifted incomes in the bottom twenty
percent of the labour force only modestly, and then only briefly toward the
end of the decade. To some extent, anti-Americanism is exacerbated by a
growing imbalance in global rule making. Those rules that favour global
market expansion have become more robust and enforceable – intellectual
property rights, for example, or dispute resolution in the World Trade
Organisation. But rules intended to promote social objectives, such as
labour standards, human rights, environmental quality or poverty reduction,
lag far behind.
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The processes of globalisation promote ‘military deglobalisation’ in the
countries of the post-industrial world, where military expenditures (with the
marked exception of the United States) are in decline, incentives for war are
reduced (particularly among democracies) and supra-territoriality is on the
rise. However, the same processes that have helped to create and maintain
‘zones of peace’ have contributed to chronic insecurity for people within
states in other parts of the world—the so-called ‘zones of disorder’.19 For
Western states the creation and maintenance of ‘liberal spaces’ at home has
meant the use of force in the drawing of boundaries abroad.20 Glossing over
this co-constitutive relationship between zones of peace and zones of
disorder and violence has practical implications for policy-making. This, in
turn, renders difficult if not impossible for the ‘zone of disorder’ to become
‘zone of peace’, notwithstanding the Bush Administration’s rhetorical
commitment to democratic freedom and economic liberalisation on a global

In short, the shifts in American foreign policy since 9/11 threaten the status
of the United States as a benign hegemon without necessarily enhancing its
security. At the time of writing, there is little evidence of any incipient
challenge to U.S. hegemony in international relations. At a relatively low
level, there are simply feelings of fear, resentment, envy, which clearly are
widespread. At a somewhat higher level, resentment may turn into dissent,
with other countries refusing to cooperate with the United States. The
highest level of response would be the formation of an anti - hegemonic
coalition involving several major powers. Yet so far it has not materialised
in significant fashion. There are three reasons for this. First, it may be too
soon. Over time the response to American foreign policy may escalate from
resentment through dissent to opposition and eventually collective
counteraction. The American threat is less immediate and more diffuse than
the threats of imminent military conquest posed by previous European
hegemons to their neighbours. Hence, other powers can be more relaxed
about forming a coalition to counter it. Second, while countries may resent
U.S. power and wealth, they also want to benefit from them. Finally, there
are deep cultural divisions between potential rivals to the United States.
France, Russia, and China may well have common interests in challenging
U.S. hegemony, but their very different cultures are likely to make it
difficult for them to organise an effective coalition to do so. For example, an
anti - US coalition between China and Russia is unlikely because of Russian
concern with a much more populous and economically dynamic China.
Cultural differences, jealousies, and rivalries are likely to be formidable
obstacles to the major regional powers coalescing against the superpower.

Sustaining U.S. Hegemony: The Challenges Ahead

I have argued that American hegemony is in decline despite its
overwhelming military power. This is because the key ingredients of
consent and legitimacy are missing from US national security policy. What
can be done? What is likely to be done in the months and years ahead?
Answering the first question is easier than answering the second question.
But on the assumption that the neo-conservative influence over American
foreign policy is temporary, here is a list of ten tasks for the next President
of the United States.
First, stop talking about the war on terror. Terrorism will not and cannot
replace communism as the ‘great fear’ to compel other countries to
cooperate with the United States on its unilateral terms. As Colin Gray has
written, ‘[t]here can be no war on terrorism because the concept carries so
much political baggage that it continues to defy efforts at substantive
definition. No one is really all that interested in chasing terrorists, let alone
freedom fighters, who menace someone else’.21 By all means talk about a
war against al-Qaeda, but as Kenneth Waltz warns, ‘don’t expect the US
military to defeat an ism’.22
Second, stop talking about pre-emption/prevention as an explicit doctrine
for the use of military force. Justification for the military attacks against the
Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and indeed against Saddam Hussein in Iraq,
did not require the explicit renunciation of the cardinal principle of
international law.
Third, stop talking about rogue states. There is a difference between rogue
behaviour and rogue states, and those countries so classified simply do not
exhibit the consistent pattern of behaviour that justifies a coercive response.
North Korea is not Iraq, neither is Iran. Use of the term ‘rogue state’ merely
raises expectations that countries so classified will be treated in the same
way regardless of circumstance.
Fourth, stop talking about the use of military force to promote democracy
around the world. The United States does not have a very good record in
this regard.23 Nor is it clear that democracy should be given priority over
order and observance of basic human rights in countries that are divided on
ethnic grounds or that lack a significant middle class constituency. In the
West, the tradition that became liberal democracy was liberal first (aimed at
restricting state power over civil society) and democratic later (aimed at
creating political structures that would secure a popular mandate for holders
of state power).
Fifth, stop talking about the paramount importance of sustaining the
American dominance of the international system. Strategy is a means to an
end, not an end in itself. If the war on terror is merely a rhetorical phrase to
pursue a blatantly self-interested strategy to prevent the emergence of any
peer competitor to the United States, it will be counter-productive. To the
extent that ‘we are all Americans now’ it must be by consent rather than fear
of coercion.
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Sixth, start talking seriously about the challenge of state-building. The
United States has been able to defeat its enemies in the Balkans,
Afghanistan, and Iraq within a matter of weeks of military action. The
reliance on U.S military forces to rebuild these parts of the world is another
matter entirely. Rebuilding divided and/or failed states is not a matter for
one state alone, particularly if that state is unwilling to occupy other
countries for a sustained period. In their recent study of sixteen cases of
explicit ‘nation-building’ attempts in the last century, Minxin Pei and Sara
Kaspar found that only four were moderately successful, those of Germany
and Japan after 1945, and the tiny states of Grenada (1983) and Panama
(1903-1936).24 There is little evidence that the Bush Administration is
serious about state-building in Afghanistan, or that the American people are
ready to accept a long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq.
Seventh, start talking seriously about the limits to sovereignty in the new
world order. Once again, there is little evidence that the Administration has
given much thought to the enduring tension between order and justice in
international relations. Order is normally associated with relations between
states, who wish to prevent major wars and therefore establish rules such as
sovereignty that define a framework for international action. Justice is on
the other hand related to individuals and their right to human dignity,
security, liberty, and development. Tensions are readily apparent because
the pursuit of justice may often clash with the principle of sovereignty and
inter-state order. Tensions need not be overdrawn, however, because one
could argue that an international order is all the more robust if it builds on
cosmopolitan justice. The Administration is correct to link the right to
sovereignty with the responsibility of states to provide basic human rights to
their citizens, but it has laid itself wide open to the charge of hypocrisy in
applying this principle selectively. For example, in addition to their poor
records on human rights, both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are states that are
deeply implicated in the rise of Islamic terrorism.
Eighth, start talking seriously about the relationship between the rights and
responsibilities of the United States itself as the most powerful state in the
world. The Bush Administration has talked loudly about the former, but
done little to articulate the latter. The list of issues on which leadership is
called for is a long one, including the environment, foreign aid, free trade,
arms control, peacekeeping, and stabilisation of the global economy.
Ninth, start talking seriously about global regulation to sustain the
distribution of rights and responsibilities in these and other issue-areas. The
Administration’s rhetoric about political and economic freedom wrongly
implies that the invisible hand of capitalism requires no guidance to sustain
economic growth. But the last decade has seen an alarming sequence of
economic collapse in Asia, Russia, Mexico, and most recently, Argentina
(whose leaders were among the most fervent supporters of free-market
reforms promoted by Washington).
74                               AUSTRALASIAN JOURNAL OF AMERICAN STUDIES

Finally, start talking seriously about peace between Israel and Palestine. Of
all the actual and potential flashpoints in the Middle East, this conflict is
surely the most potent source of anti-American resentment in the region.
Everyone accepts that sooner or later a Palestinian state will emerge from
cycle of violence in this region. Yet so far the Administration has failed to
display the even-handedness necessary to promote dialogue between the
Palestinians and the Israelis. Over one third of the foreign aid dispersed by
the United States goes to Israel, whose leadership has used the ‘war on
terror’ to wreak havoc in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to destroy
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other sponsors of suicide bombing.


The United States is the indispensable superpower. For all its faults, the
United States is the least worst hegemon that one could imagine dominating
the world at present. Indeed, the argument could be made that for all the talk
about unipolarity, the United States is not powerful enough to implement a
liberal world order on its terms. The world is unipolar if military force is the
currency of power, but it is multipolar if the currency is measured in
economic terms.25 In this article I have argued that the decline in American
hegemony is largely the result of its own actions, and a failure to take
advantage not only of the opportunities afforded by 9/11, but arguably the
entire period of the post-cold war era.26 Under the Bush Administration, the
United States has committed itself to a grand strategy that is no less than
revolutionary, threatening to overturn many of the rules and practices that
underpinned its hegemony during the cold war. As Andrew Bacevich points
out, this is a dramatic change from the ‘prevailing conception’ of America’s
role in world affairs. ‘During the turbulent half-century from 1940 to 1990,
the orthodox narrative characterised U.S. policy as an effort to thwart
revolution, whether from the extreme left or extreme right. Others attempted
to overturn the existing international order; responding reluctantly to their
provocations, the United States acted to preserve that order’.27 So far, the
Bush Administration has paid inadequate attention to the potential
consequences of its radical changes to US foreign policy. There are many
sources of legitimacy for any hegemon, including law, reason, custom and
charisma. It is difficult to see how the short term domestic popularity of the
current President can substitute for any of them.

  Leon Wieseltier, ‘Scar Tissue’, New Republic 200, June 1989, p. 20.
 For classic treatments of hegemonic stability theory in the study of international relations,
see Charles Kindleberger, The World in Depression, 1929-33, Berkeley, 1973, and Steven
Krasner, ‘State Power and the Structure of International Trade.’ World Politics 28:2, 1976,
pp. 317-45.
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  Joseph Nye, The Paradox of American Power: Why the World’s Only Superpower Can’t
Go It Alone, New York, 2002. See also Joseph Nye, 2002-03. ‘The Limits of American
Power’, Political Science Quarterly 117:4, 2002-03, pp. 545-59.
  See Robert Cox, ‘Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations
Theory’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies 10:2, 1981, pp. 126-55.
  Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics, Cambridge, 1981.
  Isabelle Grunberg, ‘Exploring the Myth of Hegemonic Stability’, International
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  John Conybeare, ‘Public Goods, Prisoners’ Dilemmas, and International Political
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  Chalmers Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, Boston,
  Elizabeth Goh, ‘Hegemonic Constraints’, Australian Journal of International Affairs 57:1,
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    Perry Anderson, ‘Force and Consent’, New Left Review 17, 2002, pp. 5-30.
   John Ruggie, ‘International Regimes, Transactions, and Change: Embedded Liberalism in
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   Bob Woodward, Bush At War, New York, 2002.
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   Kenneth Waltz, ‘The Continuity of International Politics’, in Worlds in Collision, p. 348.
   Tom Farrell, ‘America’s Misguided Mission’, International Affairs 76:3, 2002, pp. 583-92.
Karin von Hippel, Democracy by Force: US Military Intervention in the Post-Cold War
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   Minxin Pei and Sara Kaspar, ‘Lessons From the Past: The American Record on Nation
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   Joseph Joffe, The Future of the Great Powers, New York, 1999.
   Steven Schwenninger, ‘World Order Lost: American Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War
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   Andrew Bacevich, Empire, Cambridge, MA, 2002, p. 87.

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