Recommended Reading for US Hegemony Debate

Recommended Reading for US Hegemony Debate


The Canadian International Council -Toronto Branch is preparing for the first event of the 2013-2014 season with the Second Annual CIC – Toronto Branch Foreign Affairs University Cup, a debate between Ryerson and University of Toronto on the decline of U.S. Hegemony. We have put together a reading list and summary blog for you, our members, in preparation for the debate on September 25th.


The first reading, a Foreign Policy article by Gideon Rachman, argues that yes it’s true; the United States, and its global influence, is in fact declining. Rachman sees China as a far more formidable challenge to U.S. hegemony than ever before, more than the Soviet Union and Japan ever were. Rachman acknowledges that China has its own problems, however “…it would be a big mistake to assume that the Chinese challenge to U.S. power will simply disappear.” Although Rachman contends that there has been a boost in America’s soft power under Obama, he still claims, “America will never again experience the global dominance it enjoyed in the 17 years… (between) 1991 and the financial crisis.”


The second reading gives us a different perspective, coming from the Chinese publication People’s Daily Online. This article focuses on Snowden’s quest for asylum outside of the U.S. and how it can be seen as a test of the U.S.’s hegemony. Snowden applied for asylum in 21 countries, but, all of them “either cowered or delayed for time” in their answers. Even though the U.S.’s democratic and liberal image has suffered significantly because of Snowden’s revelations, its hegemonic power cannot yet be denied.


Stephen Brooks, John Ikenberry and William Wohlforth authored the third reading, a policy brief in favour of the U.S.’s continued focus on military dominance and global leadership, albeit with reduced defense spending. The authors warn against the U.S. withdrawing from key geopolitical regions, especially Asia. The policy brief asserts that U.S. hegemony has stabilized the world, increased global cooperation, prevented another world war and allowed for economic liberalization and globalization. The world relies on the global political order that the U.S. largely built and in turn, America benefits from ensuring the continuation of this world order.


The fourth article, “The Future of the Liberal World Order,” by John Ikenberry, asks if the world will look less American in the future and, if so, what global political order will emerge? Will this new order be less liberal? Ikenberry’s answer is that the liberal internationalist order can survive even with the decline in U.S. hegemony. Ikenberry sees the rise of countries like China, India and Brazil as evidence that the liberal world order can survive even in a less American world.


Our final article, by David Remnick for GQ in 1988, was included to remind us that the articles on U.S. decline are not new. In a decade that many people now look on with nostalgic longing, the article describes the U.S. as “England in the making,” outlining all the signs that the U.S. in the 1980s was declining.


Caitlin Reid

Event Coordinator and Administrative Assistant


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