Was US Hegemony in the 20th Century Inevitable? Essay
Hegemony is a concept that is well known. It entails a kind of imperial dominance that is somehow indirect in nature. In this form of governance, the leader state also known as the hegemon governs subsidiary states through implied means of power as opposed to the use of direct military force. Hegemony has been taken to imply various things at different times depending on how it was applied. For instance, it could denote the predominance of one nation among others.
In the field of political science particularly in the 20th century, hegemony was a central concept with respect to cultural hegemony which entails the manner in which a single social class dominates other social classes of a society through manipulation of the value system in a society. There has been debate on whether the US hegemony in the 20th century was inevitable or not with various factors being raised for and against the motion (Black 56). This piece of work gives a critical discussion of the concept of the US hegemony in the 20th century and the issues that surrounded it. Much emphasis will however be given on whether it was inevitable or not based on sound arguments and facts.
US Hegemony in the 20th Century
The US hegemony of the 20th century is a critical issue in the American history. Hegemony was a concept that was sought by many countries even before the 20th century. Some of the countries that sought regional and global hegemony include Nazi Germany, between 1933 and 1945, the USSR between 1922 and 1991 as well as the United States of America from year 1945 to present. The desire to have regional and global hegemony was too much that the countries went extra miles just to achieve it. For instance, Nazi Germany went as far as launching the World War II in 1939-1945 in an effort to acquire geographical dominance of Africa as well as Eurasia.
It was after this that the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) embarked on the Cold War in 1945-1991. This followed the destruction of the old European empires for instance Holland, France and Britain, by the World War II. In the mid 20th century, the hegemony concept was extremely vigorous and with regard to the United States of America, it hasted the US- Vietnam War of 1965-1975. This was achieved through its participation in the Vietnamese Civil War between 1955 and 1965. The war involved the Republic of Vietnam which is a client state of the United States of America and the National Liberation Front (Gill 174).
As earlier noted the US hegemony is not a concept of the past but rather an issue that is still ongoing. In the event of exercising hegemony, the main focus has been given to factors such as the promotion of international financial and monetary stability, allowing for security of property rights, enhancing global communication as well as enforcement of contracts. This is as opposed to the main goals that ought to be achieved through a hegemony form of governance for instance ensuring that a wide base of political base prevail and that there is effective redistribution of wealth and income among populations. Other aspects that should be of concern include the stabilization of the global economy and the promotion of an equitable development (Sharp 35).
US hegemony could be understood when looked at from the perspective of its relation to regional and global international organizations for instance the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This can be seen in both the unilateralism and multilateralism that is depicted in the American foreign policy particularly as from the mid 20th century. The main reason that is attributed to the United States’ decision to incorporate multilateral forums is largely dependant on the effectiveness of different organizations as tools that allow for the achievement of the America’s objectives. This is as perceived by the significant United States domestic actors. The multilateral institutions are mainly run within the direct as well as indirect constraints that are enforced by the United States instrumentalism. This shows the United States’ desire for power and control over other nations (Rose par 1).
Overtime, there has been an experience of decline in the US hegemony and hence the need to regain international consent. The September 11 attack is an example of the power decline in America. Some of the national and global security issues involved include terrorism and drug trafficking. In the past, for instance during the era of Clinton, the United States of America had a considerable degree of authority of most North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries. It led hegemony among the nations. The policy change during the reign of Bush is however attributed to the significant authority decline (Black 112).
In looking at the issue of whether the US hegemony of the 20th century was inevitable or not, there is need to look as the reasons for or the results that were aimed at while the country sought for the hegemony. It is true that arguments could be raised in support of the US hegemony and how inevitable it was as well as how it was not inevitable. Looking at the issue of the US hegemony of the 20th century to present times in a critical perspective, I consider it to have been inevitable. For a long period of time, the United States of America have stood up among other nations in regard to powers and prosperity. This puts it in a position to have some considerable control in a regional as well as a global perspective. It is even referred to be a superpower despite being faced with some challenges that in one way or the other leads to its decline. For this reason, the United States of America in the position of hegemony was quite obvious. This is because America had all the powers particularly a military capability that could not be challenged by many nations.
Another factor that makes me support the argument that the US hegemony in the 20th century was inevitable is the fact that financial as well as economical system of America was stable and increasingly growing, year after year. This is a strong point that made it possible for the United States to be in a position that allows maintaining of such forces as inflation. America’s economic prosperity and its ability to adapt its foreign policy to specific circumstances in an effort to achieve the best results is another factor that can be attributed to the US hegemony of the 20th century and why it was inevitable (Little 58).
There is also the issue of American exceptionalism where the United States of America is regarded to have some specialties of a kind in comparison to the others nations of the world. This is in regard to various factors for instance its historical evolution as well as its political and religious origins and stands. The United States of America has all along been in the search of a wider control through use of power to rule over other nations to the largest extent possible. It has utilized its advantage of being in a better position as compared to other nations.
From the above discussion, it is evident that the concept of US hegemony in the 20th century is a contentious issue with various parties having varying perception about it. Hegemony is understood in different ways depending on the context and the reason for which it is applied. I consider the US hegemony in the 20th century to have been inevitable. This is because the lead of the United States of America in the position of US hegemony was quite obvious since America had all the powers particularly a military capability that could not be challenged by many nations. Another reason behind this is that the America’s financial as well as economical system was stable and increasingly growing, year after year. This made it possible for it to be in a position to maintain such forces as inflation. Another strong point is America’s economic prosperity and its ability to adapt its foreign policy to specific circumstances in an effort to achieve the best results.
Black, Jeremy. Great Powers and the Quest for Hegemony: The World Order since 1500. New York: Routledge, 2008. Print.
Gill, Graeme. The Nature and Development of the Modern State. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Print.
Little, Richard. The balance of power in international relations: metaphors, myths and models. UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Print.
Rose, Gideon. “U.S. Hegemony and International Organizations.” foreignaffairs, 2003. Web.
Sharp, Paul. For Diplomacy: Representation and the Study of International Relation. International Studies Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1999), pp. 33-57.
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Introduction Hegemony is a concept that is well known. It entails a kind of imperial dominance that is somehow indirect in nature. In this form of governance, the leader state […]