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Chapter 3: US Hegemony in World Politics
We have seen that the end of the Cold War left the US without any serious rival in the world. The era since then has been described as a period of US dominance or a unipolar world. In this chapter, we try to understand the nature, extent, and limits of this dominance.
We begin by narrating the story of the rise of the new world order from the First Gulf War to the US-led invasion of Iraq.
We then pause to understand the nature of US domination with the help of the concept of ‘hegemony’.
After exploring the political, economic, and cultural aspects of US hegemony, we assess India’s policy options in dealing with the US. Finally, we turn to see if there are challenges to this hegemony and whether they can be overcome.
Ayesha was doing very well in her studies at a high school on the outskirts of Baghdad and was
planning to study medicine at university.
She lost a leg in 2003 when a missile slammed into an air-raid shelter in which she was hiding with her friends. Now she is learning to walk all over again.
She still plans to become a doctor, but only after the foreign armies leave her country. Jabu is a talented young artist who lives in Durban, South Africa.
His paintings are heavily influenced by traditional tribal art forms. He wants to go to art school and later open his own studio.
However, his father wants him to study for an MBA and then join the family business. The business is not doing too well; Jabu’s father feels that with an MBA degree, Jabu will be able to make the family business profitable.
Andrei is a young man living in Perth, Australia. His parents are immigrants from Russia. His
mother gets very angry every time Andrei puts on blue jeans to go to church. She wants him to look respectable in church.
Andrei tells his mother that jeans are “cool”, and that they give him a sense of freedom. Andrei’s father reminds his wife how they too used to wear jeans when they were youngsters in Leningrad, and for the same reason that their son now invokes.
Andrei has had an argument with his mother. Jabu may be forced to study a subject that he
has no interest in.
In contrast, Ayesha has lost her leg and is lucky to be alive. How can we even
discuss their problems in the same breath? We can, and must, do so.
As we shall see in this chapter, all three have been, in different ways, affected by US hegemony. We will meet Ayesha, Jabu, and Andrei again. But let us first understand how US hegemony began and how it operates in the world today.
We will follow the popular usage of the word ‘America’ to refer to the United States of America.
But it may be useful to remind ourselves that the expression America covers the two continents of North and South America and that the US is only one of the countries of the American continent.
Thus, the use of the word America solely for the US is already a sign of the US hegemony that we seek to understand in this chapter.
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NCERT Solutions Class 12 Political Science Chapter 3 US Hegemony in World Politics
1. How far is it correct to say that the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre was an attack on the US hegemony? Explain.
Answer: The US had established its hegemony through the launch of two operations namely ‘Operation Desert Storm’ where 75 percent of the coalition forces were from the US and ‘Operation Infinite Reach, a series of Cruise missile strikes on Al-Qaeda.
These operations made the US more confident in the establishment of the US hegemony that no one could dare to challenge the US. But, suddenly hijackers from Arab countries attacked the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001 along with the other important buildings also as the Pentagon building (the US defense department) and the capital building of US the Congress.
It was the most severe attack on US soil since the founding of the country in 1776. Thus, it can be concluded that the 9/11 attack was an attack on US hegemony that challenged the US in its own way.
2. Describe any two constraints of American hegemony.
Answer: The US domination in the military, economic, and cultural aspects over other nations to show her supremacy is known as US hegemony.
Its constraints are as follows-
1. The institutional architecture of the American State itself i.e. follow the system of division of powers between three organs of government.
2. The open nature of American Society and Political Culture i.e. the American mass media may promote a particular issue on domestic public opinion but never opposed the purposes and methods of government in American Political Culture.
3. What military actions were taken by the Clinton government despite their lack of interest were different from military power?
Answer: US President William Jefferson Bill Clinton believed in the policy of soft issues like democracy promotion, climate change, and the world trade in place of military dominance.
But the US revealed its military dominance even during the Clinton era wherever it was required by the US in the following manner:
1. In 1999, the US responded.to Yugoslavian action against the predominantly Albanian population in the province of Kosovo. The NATO air force countries under the US leadership bombarded targets around Yugoslavia for two months forcing the downfall of the government of Slobodan Milosevic and the stationary of NATO forces in Kosovo.
2. In 1998, the US launched an ‘Operation Infinite Reach’ a series of cruise missile strikes on Al-Qaeda terrorist targets in Sudan and Afghanistan in response to the bombings of US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, Dar-es-Salaam, and Tanzania.
4, Explain the hegemony of the United States of America as a structural power.
Answer: Hegemony as a structural power implies the economic perspective of the world economy. It can be summed up in the following ways:
1. An open world economy requires a dominant power to support its creation and existence.
2. The hegemon must possess both the ability and the desire to establish certain norms for order and must sustain global structure i.e. Bretton Woods system set up by the US after Second World Wan
3. The US reflects this hegemony by providing the global public goods, those that can be consumed by one person without reducing the number of goods available for someone else.
4. A classical example of the structural power of the US is the academic degree Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) to sharpen business skills in a University.
5. “Economic preponderance of the US is inseparable from its structural power”. Discuss.
Answer: Economic preponderance of the US is inseparable from its structural power, it can be justified in the following manner:
1. The hegemon shapes the basic global economy in a particular manner aS
the US provided the Bretton Woods system after Second World War.
2. We can regard the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as the products of American hegemony.
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