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Chap 3 Final

Chap 3 Final

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Published by arunmohanan
us hegemony
us hegemony

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Published by: arunmohanan on Dec 12, 2009
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01/13/2013

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O
VERVIEW
 We have seen that the end of Cold War left the US without any serious rival in the world. The era since then has been described asa period of US dominance or a unipolar world. In this chapter, wetry to understand the nature,extent and limits of thisdominance. We begin by narratingthe 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 thenature of US domination with thehelp of the concept of ‘hegemony’. After exploring the political,economic and cultural aspects of US hegemony, we assess India’spolicy options in dealing with theUS. Finally, we turn to see if thereare challenges to this hegemony and whether it can be overcome.
Chapter 3
US Hegemony in World Politics
The attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre iNew York on 11 September 2001 has been seen as watershed event in contemporary history.
 
Contemporary World Politics 
32
forced to study a subject that hehas no interest in. In contrast, Ayesha has lost her leg and islucky to be alive. How can we evendiscuss their problems in the same breath? We can, and must, do so. As we shall see in this chapter, allthree have been, in different ways,affected by US hegemony. We willmeet Ayesha, Jabu and Andreiagain. But let us first understandhow US hegemony began and how it operates in the world today. We will follow the popular usage of the word ‘America’ torefer to the United States of  America. But it may be useful toremind ourselves that theexpression America covers the twocontinents of North and South America and that the US is only one of the countries of the American continent. Thus, the useof the word America solely for theUS is already a sign of the UShegemony that we seek tounderstand in this chapter.
B
EGINNING
 
OF
 
THE
N
EW
W
ORLD
O
RDER
 The sudden collapse of the Soviet Union took everyone by surprise. While one of the two superpowersceased to exist, the other remained with all its powers intact, evenenhanced. Thus, it would appear that the US hegemony began in1991 after Soviet power disappeared from the internationalscene. This is largely correct, but  we need to keep in mind two ridersto this. First, as we shall see in this
A
YESHA
, J
ABU
 
AND
A
NDREI
 Ayesha was doing very well in her studies at a high school in theoutskirts of Baghdad, and wasplanning to study medicine inuniversity. She lost a leg in 2003 when a missile slammed into anair raid shelter in which she washiding with her friends. Now sheis learning to walk all over again.She still plans to become a doctor, but only after the foreign armiesleave 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 schooland later open his own studio.However, his father wants him tostudy for an MBA and then jointhe family business. The businessis not doing too well; Jabu’s father feels that with an MBA degree, Jabu will be able to make thefamily business profitable. Andrei is a young man livingin Perth, Australia. His parents areimmigrants from Russia. Hismother gets very angry every time Andrei puts on blue jeans to go tochurch. She wants him to look respectable in church. Andrei tellshis mother that jeans are “cool”,that they give him the sense of freedom. Andrei’s father remindshis wife how they too used to wear  jeans when they were youngstersin Leningrad, and for the samereason that their son now invokes. Andrei has had an argument  with his mother. Jabu may be
I’m glad I did not optfor the Sciencesubjects. Or else I toowould have been avictim of UShegemony. Can youthink how and why?
 
US Hegemony in World Politics
33
chapter, some aspects of UShegemony did not emerge in 1991 but in fact go back to the end of the Second World War in 1945.Second, the US did not start  behaving like a hegemonic power right from 1991; it became clear much later that the world was infact living in a period of hegemony.Let us therefore look at thisprocess by which US hegemony got established more closely.In August 1990, Iraq invadedKuwait, rapidly occupying andsubsequently annexing it. After a series of diplomatic attempts failedat convincing Iraq to quit itsaggression, the United Nationsmandated the liberation of Kuwait  by force. For the UN, this was a dramatic decision after years of deadlock during the Cold War. TheUS President George H.W. Bushhailed the emergence of a ‘new  world order’. A massive coalition force of 660,000 troops from 34 countriesfought against Iraq and defeatedit in what came to be known asthe First Gulf War. However, the
This picture of burned and broken vehicles was taken on the ‘Highway of Death’, a road between Kuwait and Basra, on which the retreating Iraqi army was attacked by American aircraft during the First Gulf War in February 1991. Some commentators have suggested that the US forces deliberately bombed this stretch of highway where fleeing and ‘out of combat’ Iraqi soldiers were stuck in a frenzied traffic jam and that the victims included Kuwaiti prisoners and hostages and Palestinian civilian refugees. Many observers have called it a ‘war crimeand violation of the Geneva Convention.

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