Saying Goodbye to American Hegemony – What’s next?

Display of the American Declaration of Independence reading "We the People..."

The U.S. is restraining from accepting and carrying out the position of global leader. Thus far, this new administration is continuing a line begun by the previous Obama administration, albeit for quite different ideological reasons. The common denominator, though, is the adverse reaction of a significant part of the American population toward continued leadership, including the acceptance of the necessary costs . The dominant narrative is one of failed attempts at nation building (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya); of the detrimental effects of transborder trade, especially for domestic manufacturing jobs; and of the adverse effects of taking climate change seriously.

It is not likely that these perceptions will change any time soon. This leaves the world with a question: Where to go from here?

It would be easy to assume that China will take over in one way or another. But this is not likely from an economic point of view, and it has imposing domestic tasks to be addressed. Additionally, from a Western perspective, China would not be a liberal leader .

The EU doesn’t look like it is ready and available for a leadership role. Germany alone is not strong enough. So the world seems poised to move toward a multi- or even nonpolar structure.

What can we expect from this?

– Klaus Segbers

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  1. Justas Paleckis 1 week ago

    Washington can still return to the attempts to construct a uni-polar world. This option could be supported by the electorate if the US economic situation will improve significantly. But it seems that the really short period of a uni-polar world is over. It’s hard to imagine that China could impose a Confucian teaching or single-party system by force outside their home country. The United Nations should reflect the changing face of the world. It has long been not as it was in 1945. Reforms are necessary. Who else, if not the EU (and especially Germany) should have to push most actively such fundamental reforms?

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  2. Hildegard Müller 1 week ago

    Yes, the announced withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement may seem as just a
    further step towards a new era of American restraint, abandoning global
    responsibilities. However, in this case, not only other nations take over new
    responsibilities but also the federal structure of the U.S. alongside emerging
    market dynamics may prove some developments to be irreversible. Several federal
    states declared that they would still implement policies that would help to reach
    the goals from the Paris Agreement. California e.g. has CO2 reduction targets and
    incentives (like an emission trading system) similar to the European Union. But also
    the U.S. industry has recognised the perks of the energy transition towards more
    renewables, smart digital technologies and increased energy efficiency. Having made
    investments promoting decarbonisation, even industrial giants like General Electric
    and Dow Chemicals will pursue a more climate friendly way of doing business. With
    both industry and federal states continuing on their path, the U.S will still play
    their part in the global challenge of climate change.

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  3. Dmytro Sherengovsky 1 week ago

    For centuries the development of state power was accompanied with economic growth, bringing prosperity and security to its citizens. Today these functions of nation states are blurred and global markets can bring more personalized incomes, while private military companies can ensure personalized security. In 2015, the total income of Apple Inc was near 234 bln USD, several times bigger than budget incomes of a number of countries, including Ukraine (21 bln USD). However, the possibility of privatizing global politics are still limited even in the Linklaterian Post-Westphalian era, mainly due to the lack of effective instruments to generate collective responses to global threats outside of state-based institutions.

    What we are facing now doesn’t mean that state powers are in decline, but it does mean that we see a lack of global leadership and lack of trust to the ‘global leaders of the past’, causing the effects of G-zero thinking.

    Here we can come to the conclusion that Richard Haass made several years ago: Today’s world is not dominated by one or a few leaders in terms of polarity, but by a number of state powers and non-state actors oriented on issues. If state powers are seeking a new ‘grand order’, they should perform a ‘grand leadership strategy’ that includes multiple players, contributing to combat common global threats on different levels. The shift from polarity to issues is desperately needed.

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  4. Anastasia Wischnewskaja 1 week ago

    The movement towards a non-polar world is not taking place because somebody “wants” it or “manipulates” this process. It is a natural consequence of globalization, unprecedented economic growth in the global South and therefore – global interdependence. There is a huge variety of interests and issues of regional importance out there and it is neither possible nor necessary for one actor to steer and control these processes. The growing role of regional organizations like ASEAN or united handling of transnational challenges like climate change was hard to imagine 30, 20 or even 10 years ago and yet they have good chances to change to international landscape. Paris agreement remains an unprecedented symbol of international communities’ ability to cooperate, even despite US-withdrawal. While the US-dominated Western alliance failed to bring stability and security to Afghanistan, the SCO and TAPI might get this job done. As of now, it seems, that the world of the 21st century will be a net of bi- and multilateral agreements, organizations, trade routes and partnerships making cooperation the only way to go. Otto von Bismarck tried to establish such a net of agreements in the 19th century Europe, but German government failed to sustain it after his death. This time failing is not an option.

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1 Comment

  1. Sandra Miller 5 days ago

    After almost 5 months of Trumps perisendcy we are witnessing Mr. Trumps pessimistic attitude to trade and his unwillingness to collaborate on global issues like climate change. Thus, we can confirm that America abdicates his role of a global leader. So if the days of depending on others are to some extent over, the Europeans have to take their fate into their own hands, as Angela Merkel told after she welcomed the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Berlin. In times of global uncertainty, we have to push for a world order based on common values and interests. Trump’s America is no longer the reliable leader its partners once expected, but an evil force in world affairs. Hence, it must bear the consequences.

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