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Cesran International

The USA: Challenges of the Superpower

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union among diversity of problems central for American Studies and International Relations scholars and experts are questions: Is the world system unocentric or polycentric? What’s the US new role and mission in the new millennium? With appearance new economic powers is America able to preserve its leading positions in the world? But central in this discourse remains the question: How powerful, reliable and effective is the US internal political, economic and social system for further burdening the role of the superpower and hegemonic positions in the world?


USS Victoria Canada

American historiography is quite diverse and contradictory over the role of the USA in the changing world.  There are three major schools of thought: primacy, isolationism and selective engagement, which give quite different estimations of the US status in the world.  Primacy school is oriented on exceptional role of the USA as a sole superpower in the world. Isolationists sharply criticize primacy school. In the country’s drawbacks they see the end of American hegemony.  Selective engagement school is a compromise between primacy and isolationism schools and submits that the USA should possess only sufficient strength to defend the centers of economic might in the world, principally Europe and northeast Asia.

Advocates of primacy school assent that the USA is the major power in international politics and keeps its preponderant position by maintaining and expanding its military and economic strength. In 1999 Samuel P. Huntington estimated the USA as “the sole state with preeminence in every domain of power – economic, military, diplomatic, ideological, technological, and cultural – with the reach and capabilities to promote its interests in virtually every part of the world.” Scholars today continue to estimate the USA as a global superpower, which has “no equal”. The main argument is that U.S. capabilities are so overwhelming that other states cannot realistically hope to balance against it, nor do they have reason to because U.S. hegemony is benevolent,and it can maintain its preeminence into the deep of the 21 century.

Proponents of isolationism give just opposite vision of problems. They argue that the United States should devote more resources to domestic social problems and withdraw from involvement in international politics, as the American Empire has very high economic costs and weakens democracy at home.  Isolationists believe that attempts to provide democracy abroad (especially in the Middle East) rests on dubious assumptions, leading to unnecessary American military interventions abroad, a geopolitical backlash and to the decline of the USA.  Criticsof U.S. primacy or “imperialism” assumed that the pursuit of geopolitical militarism and further consolidation of the war system reinforces a crisis of empire, bringing “devastation of an imperial policy in an era of waning hegemony”.


Published in Journal of Global Analysis (JGA) Vol. 3  No. 1