Between Primacy and Decline: America’s Role in the Post-Cold War World

Jussi M. Hanhimäki

in International Relations Since the End of the Cold War

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199666430
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745607 | DOI:
Between Primacy and Decline: America’s Role in the Post-Cold War World

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This chapter focuses on the evolution of the United States’ role in international affairs from the first Bush to the Obama administration. The essay evaluates the longstanding and cyclical debate about American decline, stressing the speculative nature of such discussions. The chapter also stresses the relative continuity in American foreign policy since the early 1990s, paying particular attention to one central notion embraced by all post-Cold War administrations: American primacy in a post-cold war liberal international order. Indeed, the United States has been mostly successful in maintaining its central position in a world that is increasingly linked together via growing trade links, technological innovations, and international institutions. But the price of this success is ironic. As the remit of what used to be called the ‘free world’ has grown, as democracy and free markets have spread, the United States has become ‘less special’ than before.

Keywords: George H.W. Bush; William J. Clinton; George W. Bush; Barack Obama; decline; free world; liberal internationalism

Chapter.  8476 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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