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I don't think you're correct on the definition of hegemon, at least in the national security literature, but that's semantic point, regardless.  Your definition is what I mean by "dominant" which is what I am talking really talking about anyway, so I'll go with that.

Was Britain able to wield power over continental European affairs in 1900 in the same way the US is able to do so today, in Europe as well as in most of the rest of world?  I think the answer is clearly no, and largely because Britain's sphere of influence -- the sea -- was not as critical to continental Europe's prosperity as is the sea, air, space, intellectual property and many other institutional spaces in which the US is not only dominant but also the principal custodial authority today.

Could US power be reduced to Britain's ca. 1900 level, and thus make it vulnerable to attack, by military or non-violent means of contesting its dominance?  Yes, but we have to ask specifically how that might occur instead of just saying something like, "Look, China is really big and growing fast!"  Really, we have to ask whether globalization and all that it means today could really continue at anything like it is today if the US were to retire suddenly from world affairs and become like, say, France, or even Russia, instead.

by santiago on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 05:10:32 PM EST
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