E-mail This Page
Tag This Page (del.icio.us)
Hegemony and Militarized Globalism: A Selection of Excerpts Pro and Con (with source links)
compiled by Charles Knight
for a roundtable discussion at the
Center for International Relations, Boston University
Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy
William Kristol and Robert Kagan. Foreign Affairs (July/August 1996).
[excerpt] American hegemony is the only reliable defense against a breakdown of peace and international order. The appropriate goal of American foreign policy,
therefore, is to preserve that hegemony as far into the future as possible. To
achieve this goal, the United States needs a neo-Reaganite foreign policy of
military supremacy and moral confidence.
American foreign policy should be informed with a clear moral purpose, based
on the understanding that its moral goals and its fundamental national interests
are almost always in harmony.
It is worth recalling that the most successful Republican presidents of this
century, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, both inspired Americans to
assume cheerfully the new international responsibilities that went with increased
power and influence. Both celebrated American exceptionalism. Both made
Americans proud of their leading role in world affairs. Deprived of the support of
an elevated patriotism, bereft of the ability to appeal to national honor,
conservatives will ultimately fail in their effort to govern America. And Americans
will fail in their responsibility to lead the world.
"Liberalism and Security: The contradictions of the liberal Leviathan"
Barry Buzan and Ole Wæver. Copenhagen Peace Research Institute, April 1998.
[excerpt] The separation of political economy from security…had (for the West) the politically useful side-effect of legitimizing the post-1945 American/Western
imperium, which operated on the demand for access rather than in the traditional
European style of direct control. For many states and peoples in the periphery of
the international system, the attempted liberal desecuritisation of the political
economy was itself a security issue. Liberal states were able to delegitimize the
non-military security claims of other actors, in the process subordinating them to
the "normal" politics of the market economy and pluralist politics. By itself this
situation justified a wider perspective on security, but only the voices of the weak
calling for a new international economic order supported it, and it was largely
drowned out by the superpower confrontation.
The new agenda of insecurity arises in large part from the operation of the global market economy itself. It is not an aim of liberalism (quite the contrary), but an often unintended and unanticipated effect of liberal policy in practice. It is partly about economic insecurity directly, and partly about the spillover of effects from the operation of global markets into the military, political, societal and environmental sectors. In addition, the rise of liberalism to hegemonic status increases the pressure that other liberal ideas, most notably individualism and human rights, put on societies that do not share them. The liberal peace is not
universal, and in many respects it is imperial towards the remaining non-liberal
During the Cold War, one aspect of this was the imperium of economic access demanded by the West, and the rejection of attempts by many in the Third World
to pose this as a security issue in relation to their prospects for development. To
the extent that liberal economics becomes identified as a mechanism of
subordination or inequality, it becomes vulnerable to securitisation by those who
are doing badly out of it. Avoiding that political turn requires liberal elites to avoid
major collapses in the trade and financial regimes. It also requires a sustained
commitment to economic growth in order to shrink, or buy-off, the circle of losers.
That commitment creates a strong tie to the agenda of environmental security.
Giving primacy to individuals not only undermines the legal claim of the state to sovereignty, but also provides strong foundations for challenging the right to nonintervention in domestic affairs, which is a cornerstone of the Westphalian
international political order. If universal notions of human rights can be used to
legitimate interventions, then the whole system of sovereignty as the basis of
international political order is in question. In this perspective, the quite strong
pressure building up within the more radical wing of security studies to demand
that the primary referent object for security be individuals, not the state, can be
understood as part of the liberal assault on the state. The other main driver
hollowing out the state is the globalization of the economy, which not only opens
up state borders to movements of goods, capital, information and (to a lesser
extent) people, but also empowers transnational firms and markets in relation to
the state. Where interdependence has generated integration, most notably within
the EU, the state already has to share sovereignty with other levels of governing
institutions above and below the state.
The benevolent empire
Robert Kagan. Foreign Policy (Summer 1998).
[excerpt] This insufficiency [of European powers] is the fatal flaw of multilateralism, as the Clinton administration learned in the case of Bosnia. In a world that is not genuinely multipolar where there is instead a widely recognized hierarchy of
power - multilateralism, if rigorously pursued, guarantees failure in meeting
international crises. Those nations that lack the power to solve an international
problem cannot be expected to take the lead in demanding the problem be
solved. They may even eschew the exercise of power altogether, both because
they do not have it and because the effective exercise of it by someone else,
such as the United States, only serves to widen the gap between the hegemon
and the rest… Giving equal say over international decisions to nations with vastly
unequal power often means that the full measure of power that can be deployed
in defense of the international community's interests will, in fact, not be
"American Strategy in the Global Era"
James Kurth. Naval War College Review (Winter 2000).
[excerpt] ...spheres of influence usually have served the economic interests of their dominant powers, often excluding or restricting those of other powers. This notion is now rejected by the globally [liberal internationalist] minded United States.
The Arabian Peninsula: Crucible of Globalization
Ellis Goldberg and Robert Vitalis. 21 March 2001
[excerpt] The idea that the 'globalization of production' is now transforming the world would seem no more true today than it was for each previous decade of the twentieth century, the claims of past, equally earnest generations of one worldists
In Egypt, a debate continues across the twentieth century about the underlying
reality of 'Egyptianness'. This is conventionally portrayed as a debate about the
Pharaonic versus the Arabo-Islamic roots of national identity. Many smart
people work hard to resolve a question that is, viewed from our vantage,
unanswerable. Once we saw that an argument about globalization is as
ubiquitous within the American academy and society as the debate about
Pharaonicism is in Egyptian intellectual life, we decided our time was better spent
on other questions. So we shift the discussion from globalization to hegemony,
both an idea and a debate that seems more clearly defined.
Hegemony, as leadership, is never neutral but it is always political and always
requires attention to the care, feeding, and pruning of coalitions. …To put it in the
simplest terms, a particular set of norms -- call it hegemony -- applies in relations
among a superior caste of states and another set of norms -- call it empire or
dominion or dependency, terms used by North American scholars since the
1920s -- applies when dealing with the weaker, subordinate, inferior caste of
states. Before World War II this international caste system was defended by
policy makers, intellectuals, and the white working class as a natural order
among 'races.' Now it is more common to find international inequality explained
as a natural order among 'states' rather than races, 'The strong do what they will,
the weak do what they must'. It may even be more common to act as if inequality
did not exist.
Firms [are] independent rather than subordinate actors with states in the global
economy. Firms have their own organizational structures distinct from those of
states or markets, their own policies, and even their own international relations.
Nearly as important as the focus on firms, however, is our related insistence on
the specificity of the oil economy: it is not simply one form of capital investment
but a key to the transformation of Europe's market, transport and social
structures unparalleled since the emergence of the contemporary state structure
in the middle of the nineteenth century. European and Japanese dependence on
Middle East oil transformed their economies away from autarchy toward highly
complex patterns of global trade. American firms were themselves pushed to
develop far more complicated organizational structures to link supply and
demand outside the country in which they were nominally domiciled and
consequently the emergence of far more complex structures of recruitment and
control than any earlier firms that engaged in international trade to link
metropolitan economies with colonial ones.
The energy trade is not simply one example among many of dominance. It
is constitutive of the contemporary global market and the global trade in
oil made possible a transition from a world of autarchic trading states to
a world of interdependent economic sectors.
"Wanted: A Global Partner"
Peter Ludlow. The Washington Quarterly (Summer 2001).
[excerpt] The international community is not an illusion. Nor are the global challenges to the international economy, to the earth's ecological balance, and to the survival
of free and democratic states figments of the imagination. From this perspective,
the pursuit of common interests and their encapsulation in common rules
commonly administered are not luxuries, but necessities. Furthermore, these
interests and rules are not incompatible with the exercise of leadership by the fit
and strong. On the contrary, France and Germany...have exercised leadership in
Europe more effectively through EU institutions than they could possibly have
done outside them. The precondition of leadership within a multilateral regime
founded on commonly formulated rules is, however, that the leader accepts the
rules just as readily as the led. In addition, the effort to establish consensus with
states that do not conform is only abandoned as a last resort and within the
framework of the rules-based system.
Bush Administration Policy Toward Europe: continuity and change
Charles Knight. Cambridge, MA: Commonwealth Institute, January 2002.
[excerpt] For Kagan the norms of international relations are not truly international, but rather are second order manifestations of U.S. hegemony and as such are
subordinate and dependent on it. This is a construction that when applied to
policy may well reflect ideology more than pragmatism. To the extent it is
embraced by the Bush administration it will mark the transition of the famously
pragmatic Americans into the ranks of ideological states.
A New Grand Strategy
Benjamin Schwarz and Christopher Layne. The Atlantic Monthly, January 2002.
[excerpt] Although jockeying for advantage is a fact of life for great powers, coexistence,
and even cooperation between and among them, is not unusual. Offshore
balancing seeks to promote America's relative power and security, but it also
aims to maximize the opportunity for the United States to be on decent terms
with the other great powers.
Recognizing the legitimacy of other great powers' spheres of influence offers the
United States a further strategic advantage.
Transforming Debate: The opportunity and risk for the military
Mackubin Thomas Owens. National Review (29 August 2002).
[excerpt] The United States is a de facto imperial power. The interdependence and
prosperity we take for granted is largely the result of U.S. 'imperial policing'.
The End of the West
Charles A. Kupchan. The Atlantic Monthly (November 2002).
[excerpt] An ascendant EU will surely test its muscle against America, especially if the unilateralist bent in U.S. foreign policy continues. A once united West appears
well on its way to separating into competing halves.
A Grand Strategy of Transformation
John Lewis Gaddis. Foreign Policy (November/December 2002).
[excerpt] The intersection of radicalism with technology the world witnessed on that terrible morning means that the persistence of authoritarianism anywhere can
breed resentments that can provoke terrorism that can do us grievous harm.
There is a compellingly realistic reason now to complete the idealistic task
Woodrow Wilson began more than eight decades ago: the world must be made
safe for democracy, because otherwise democracy will not be safe in the world..
The American Empire: The Burden
Michael Ignatieff. New York Times Magazine (05 January
[excerpt] Being an imperial power… means enforcing such order as there is in the world and doing so in the American interest. It means laying down the rules America wants (on everything from markets to weapons of mass destruction) while exempting itself from other rules (the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and the International Criminal Court) that go against its interest.
The disagreeable reality for those who believe in human rights is that there are some occasions -- and Iraq may be one of them -- when war is the only real
remedy for regimes that live by terror. This does not mean the choice is morally unproblematic. The choice is one between two evils, between containing and leaving a tyrant in place and the targeted use of force, which will kill people but free a nation from the tyrant's grip.
This is a very different picture of the world than the one entertained by liberal international lawyers and human rights activists who had hoped to see American power integrated into a transnational legal and economic order organized around the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the International Criminal Court and other international human rights and environmental institutions and mechanisms. Successive American administrations have signed on to those pieces of the transnational legal order that suit their purposes (the World Trade Organization, for example) while ignoring or even sabotaging those parts (the International Criminal Court or the Kyoto Protocol) that do not. A new international order is emerging, but it is designed to suit American imperial objectives.
E-mail This Page