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World Domination

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

As the world nears a new decade, many aspects of the global community are changing. This includes our culture, alliances, beliefs, economics, and political ideologies. What isn’t changing, however, is the worldwide hegemony of the United States of America.

Judge Magazine Cover (1898) via War On The Rocks.

America’s place as the sole world superpower stemming from the fall of the Soviet Union has erected it as the world police, the leading manufacturer of popular culture, and a powerful catalyst for change throughout the world, whether it be good or bad. In the following piece, I will discuss how the U.S. got to this point, consider its impact on the world, and the future of the hegemony against the contemporary rising powers.

After WWII, the former superpowers in Europe were exhausted economically, their populations diminished, and their lands devastated. America, on the other hand, was wholly unscathed in its homeland. Its infrastructure was untouched. Its economic capability was bolstered by the policies of FDR and the manufacturing sector on an enormous war footing. After the last atom bomb was unleashed on Japan and the threat of a dual Soviet-American invasion brought the Japanese to surrender, the dust began to settle on the last great global war.

Once the dust settled, a healthy America stood with unprecedented maneuverability to manifest a new global order from the ashes. America did just that with the Bretton Woods Agreements (IMF, World Bank), effectively replacing gold as the world currency with the U.S. dollar, therefore establishing the U.S. as the dominant economic world power. Though it was already a significant financial sector, the U.S. was able to influence European powers by financing their reconstruction efforts significantly.

The Bretton Woods system was a mediated monetary and exchange rate management system intended to govern monetary relations among sovereign nations post-WWII (Crypotren).

The Bretton Woods system was a mediated monetary and exchange rate management system intended to govern financial relations among sovereign nations post-WWII (Crypotren).

Next was the resurrection of Woodrow Wilson’s “League of Nations” in the newly formed United Nations, which placed the winners of WWII (U.S., U.K., France, China, Russia) as it’s security council. Therefore, the decisions for what conflicts could and could not transpire rests solely in their hands. At the same time, the Soviet Union sought to enact its influence over the territories still occupied by it’s standing WWII armies. Within no time, the “Iron Curtain” was draped across eastern Europe.

However, the rest of the world would be caught in a global tug-of-war between the two powers. Capitalism and Democracy vs. Communism and Autocracy. With this came NATO, further strengthening U.S. ties and influence globally.

To the U.S.’ benefit, the capitalist model was effective in resurrecting the economies of the devastated countries in which it was embraced. Stephen Krasner, a renowned political scientist, states that “The presence of a hegemonic power in the international system creates incentives for other states to accept the openness of trade; thus, the world becomes more open and globalized in the presence of hegemonic power.”

With such globalization never seen before in human history, economic prosperity was likened to American influence. Thus, American culture was wholly embraced, particularly in music, film, and clothing. As the communist model began to disintegrate throughout the Cold War, American influence continued to grow. American foreign policies made sure its power was solidified globally.

At the close of the Cold War, America assumed its role as the sole global superpower and subsequently adopted its position as the world police. Interventionist policies in Iraq and Bosnia were evidence of that, and the world looked to America to counteract any injustice globally. With this came a world-class navy patrolling the world’s waters like no other nation in the past had ever done, in addition to many hundreds of overseas bases enabling American intervention or influence to be enacted on an unprecedented time scale.

Despite America’s domination economically, militarily, and diplomatically, history stands to tell a tale that all superpowers are challenged for their spot sooner or later. The “Long Cycle Theory” first published in 1958 by its creator, A.F.K. Organski, in his textbook, World Politics (1958), states that a nation will achieve hegemonic power and then be challenged by a great power. Which, in the past, has created a transition between the two forces. The cycle of control that a nation typically holds is about 60-90 years.

This theory can be noted with Portugal’s domination of the sea in 1518, which gave way to the Netherlands’ rising power amid the “Dutch Golden Age.” A rising France put the Dutch to the test, and Britain assumed the spoils. After this, the Napoleonic wars thrust Britain out, but Britain resumed its power and became the global hegemon until the first World War rattled its empire with other rising nations nipping at its excess. The second World War saw the great dissolution of the British Empire, which gave way for the U.S. and the Soviet Union to compete for the role of the sole hegemon.

Contemporarily, China is becoming an impressive economic power and rising military power. China is arguably the only real rival to America; it stands to reason that history will repeat itself, and conflict will ensue as China stakes its claim to be the leader of the world. Interestingly enough, the very institutions that the U.S. erected at the start of its rise, the Bretton Woods Agreements, NATO, and the United Nations, make an outright conflict unlikely. The economies of these two nations are just too interconnected to make any conflict for supremacy worth it.

“Currently, China is the largest trade partner of the United States, the third-largest merchandise export market and the biggest source of imports. China’s exports to the U.S. have changed from low-value, labor-intensive products to more capital-intensive goods over the decades. It is now one of the U.S.’s major suppliers of advanced technology products, and global supply chains involving China and the U.S. are complex. Moreover, China is the largest holder of U.S. treasury securities” (Gulnar Nagashybayeva, Business Reference Specialist, Science, Technology and Business Division, Dr. Bonni van Blarcom, Volunteer, Science, Technology and Business Division).

However, this hasn’t stopped China from trying to diminish U.S. influence in other ways. In recent years, China has invested billions in Africa and South America to gain overseas military bases and regional control over strategic resources and population centers. China also moves to stake more claim over vital sea routes in the south China sea, and the country is involved in regular territorial disputes with its neighbors.

Additionally, China continues to pursue a habit of stealing American intellectual property to bolster its economic development.

The means of usurping the current hegemon, in the United States, maybe different, but the intentions are hard to conceive as anything other than a nation positioning itself to make a move for the top spot. To enjoy a long period of global dominance similar to the British empire across the 19th and 20th centuries, it becomes ever more critical for the United States to stand behind the institutions it developed post-WWII, and invest further in the international community. Additionally, the U.S. needs to adopt more domestic policies that uplift humankind to prop itself up as the only logical leader for the international community.

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