US Hegemony and Balance of Power.


ESTABLISHMENT OF US HEGEMONY
The sudden collapse of the Soviet Union

While one of the two superpowers ceased to exist, the other remained with all its powers intact, even enhanced. Thus, it would appear that the US hegemony began in 1991 After Soviet Power disappeared from the international scene.

Iraq invasion of Kuwait

In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, after a series of diplomatic event of convincing Iraq to free Kuwait the United Nations mandated the liberation of Kuwait by force. The US President George H.W. Bush hailed the emergence of a ‘new world order’.

A massive coalition force of 660,000 troops from 34 countries fought against Iraq and defeated it in what came to be known as the First Gulf War which revealed the vast technological gap that had opened up between the US military capability and that of other states.

Bombing of the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania in 1998.

These bombings were attributed to Al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization strongly influenced by extremist Islamist ideas President Clinton ordered Operation Infinite Reach, a series of cruise missile strikes on Al-Qaeda terrorist targets in Sudan and Afghanistan.

Attack of 9/11

On 11 September 2001, nineteen hijackers hailing from a number of Arab countries took control of four American commercial aircraft shortly after takeoff and flew them into important buildings in the US. One airliner each crashed into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York. A third aircraft crashed into the Pentagon building in Arlington, Virginia, where the US Defence Department is headquartered. The fourth aircraft, presumably bound for the Capitol building of the US Congress, came down in a field in Pennsylvania. The attacks have come to be known as “9/11”. The attacks killed nearly three

thousand persons.

‘Global War on Terror’, the US launched ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ against all those suspected to be behind this attack, mainly Al-Qaeda and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The Taliban regime was easily overthrown, but remnants of the Taliban and Al- Qaeda have remained potent, as is clear from the number of terrorist attacks launched by them against Western targets since.

Operation Iraqi Freedom

More than forty other countries joined in the US-led ‘coalition of the willing’ after the UN refused to give its mandate to the invasion. The ostensible purpose of the invasion was to prevent Iraq from developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Since no evidence Of WMD has been unearthed in Iraq, it is speculated that the invasion was motivated by other objectives, such as controlling Iraqi oilfields and installing a regime friendly to the US Third bullet point here

The bedrock of contemporary US power lies in the overwhelming superiority of its military power. American military dominance today is both absolute and relative. In absolute terms, the US today has military capabilities that can reach any point on the planet accurately, lethally and in real time, thereby crippling the adversary while its own forces are sheltered to the maximum extent possible from the dangers of war.

HEGEMONY AS STRUCTURAL POWER

It is important to remember that the economic preponderance of the US is inseparable from its structural power, which is the power to shape the global economy in a particular way. After all, the Bretton Woods system, set up by the US after the Second World War, still constitutes the basic structure of the world economy. The open world economy requires a hegemon or dominant power to support its creation and existence.•Hegemony in this second sense is reflected in the role played by the US in providing global public goods. By public goods we mean those goods that can be consumed by one person without reducing the amount of the good available for someone else. Fresh air and roads are examples of public goods.The hegemon must possess both the ability and the desire to establish certain norms for order and must sustain the global structure.

HEGEMONY AS SOFT POWER

This third sense of hegemony is about the capacity to ‘manufacture consent’. Here, hegemony implies class ascendancy in the social, political and particularly ideological spheres.

America is the most seductive, and in this sense the most powerful, culture on earth. This attribute is called ‘soft power’: the ability to persuade rather than coerce.

Blue jeans were the ultimate symbol of ‘liberation’ for their generation. Young men and women often spent over a year’s salary to buy blue jeans from foreign tourists on the black market. Somehow, for an entire Soviet generation blue jeans came to represent aspirations of the ‘good life’ that were not available in their own country.

HEGEMONY IN CONTEXT TO BALANCE OF POWER

Given the logic of balance of power, hegemony is a rather unusual condition in international affairs. This is for a very simple reason: in the absence of world government, every state must ensure its own security and, in extreme circumstances, its own survival. Thus, states are acutely aware of power distribution in the international political system, and would not normally allow a single state to become so powerful as to pose a mortal threat to other states. The balance of power logic of international politics, as outlined above, is amply supported by history. By convention, we regard 1648 as the year in which the sovereign territorial state emerged as the principal actor in world politics. In the over three and a half centuries since then, there have been only two previous occasions when a single state succeeded in gaining preponderance in the system to a similar degree as the US predominates the system today. France from 1660 to 1713 in the context of European continental politics in the first instance of hegemony, Britain with its global maritime empire from 1860 to 1910 is the second. History also tells us that although at its height hegemony seems formidable, it does not last forever. To the contrary, balance of power politics over time reduces the relative power of the hegemon. In 1660, France under Louis XIV was unchallenged; by 1713, England, Habsburg Austria and Russia were contesting French power. In 1860, the high noon of the Victorian period, Pax Britannica looked secure forever. By 1910, it was clear that Germany, Japan and the US had emerged as contenders to British power. Thus, twenty years from now, another great power, or may be a coalition of great powers could well emerge just as US capabilities are declining in relative terms.

Sources: https://ncert.nic.in/textbook.php?leps1=3-9

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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