Chapter 3 US Hegemony in World Politics Class 12 Political Science Notes & PDF

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Beginning of the ‘New World Order’ by the US

  • The disintegration of USSR led to the beginning of the US hegemony in 1991. It remained with all its powers enhanced and intact.
  • Kuwait was invaded by Iraq in August 1990 and was subsequently annexed. After a series of diplomatic attempts failed at convincing Iraq to quit its aggression, the United Nations mandated the liberation of Kuwait by force. This decision of UN was hailed by the US President George HW Bush as the emergence of a ‘New World Order.’
  • The First Gulf War took place in which Iraq was defeated by a coalition force of 6,60,000 troops from 34 countries. It was known as ‘Operation Desert Storm’ or ‘First Gulf War’.
  • The war was overwhelmingly American. It revealed the vast technological gap that had opened up between the US military capability and other countries.

The Clinton Years

  • George HW Bush lost the US Presidential elections of 1992 to William Jefferson (Bill) Clinton of the Democratic party.
  • During this era, it was believed that the US had withdrawn into its internal affairs and was not fully engaged in world politics.
  • The government led by Clinton focused on ‘soft issues’ like democracy promotion, climate change and world trade rather than ‘hard politics’.
  • Still, the US showed its military powers. Firstly, in 1999 in response to Yugoslavian actions against the pre-dominantly Albanian population in the province of Kosovo. Secondly, in response to the bombing of the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam.
  • ‘Operation Infinite Reach’, launched by the US, was a series of cruise missile strikes on Al-Qaeda terrorist targets in Sudan and Afghanistan.

9/11 and the ‘Global War on Terror

  • On 11th September 2001, four American commercial aircrafts were hijacked and flew into important buildings in the US.
  • The first and second airline crashed into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Centre (New York), the third crashed into the Pentagon building (Arlington, Virginia) and the fourth aircraft came down in a field in Pennsylvania. These attacks came to be known as ‘9/11’.
  • The US response to 9/11 was swift and ferocious. George W Bush had succeeded Clinton in the US Presidency.
  • The US launched ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ as a part of its ‘Global War on Terror’.
  • The operation was against all those suspected to be behind the 9/11 attack, mainly Al-Qaeda and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
  • Arrests were made all over the world by the US forces often without the knowledge of the government of the persons being arrested.
  • These persons were transported across countries and detained in secret prisons.

The Iraq Invasion

  • Operation Iraqi Freedom’ was launched by the US on 19th March, 2003 and was joined by more than forty other countries.
  • The purpose of the invasion was to prevent Iraq from developing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
  • As there was no evidence of WMD, it is speculated that the invasion was motivated by other objectives such as controlling Iraqi oilfields, etc.
  • The US invasion of Iraq was both a military and political failure as around 3000 US military personnel were lost and Iraqi casualities were much higher.

India’s Relationship with the US

  • During the Cold War, India closest friendship was with the Soviet Union.
  • Over the years, India decided to liberalise its economy and integrate it with the global economy. This made India an attractive economic partner for a number of countries including the US.
  • Two new factors emerged in Indo-US relations in recent years. They include :
    • Technological dimension
    • The role of the Indian-American diaspora.
  • There are three different strategies to decide what kind of relationship India should have with USA. They are as follows :
    • Those Indian analysts who see international politics in terms of military power, prefer that India should maintain its distance from US and should focus upon increasing its own national power.
    • Other analysts see the growing convergence of interests between US and India as a historic opportunity for India.
    • A third group of analysts advocate that India should take the lead in establishing the coalition of countries from developing world.
  • Indo-US relations are too difficult to manage by a sole strategy. There should be mixing of foreign policy strategies of deal with the US.

Hegemony as Hard Power

  • Hegemony relates to the relations, patterns and balances of military capability between states.
  • The base of US power lies in the overwhelming superiority of its military power. It is both absolute and relative.
  • The military dominance of the US is not just based on higher military spending but on a qualitative gap.
  • But still, the US invasion of Iraq reveals weakness of American power as it was not able to force the Iraqi people into submitting to the occupation forces of the US-led coalition.

Hegemony as Structural Power

  • The idea behind this type of hegemony is that an open world economy requires a hegemon or dominant power to support its creation and existence.
  • In this sense, hegemony is reflected in the role played by the US in providing global public goods. The best examples of global public goods are Sea-Lanes of Communication (SLOCs), Internet, roads, etc.
  • The economic preponderance of the US is inseparable from its structural power, which is the power to shape the global economy in a particular way.
  • Another example of the structural power of the US is the academic degree called the Masters in Business Administration (MBA). The idea of teaching skills for business is uniquely American.
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Hegemony as Soft Power

  • In this type of hegemony, it implies class ascendancy in the social, political and particularly ideological spheres.
  • It suggests that a dominant power not only possess military power but also ideological resources to shape the behaviour of competing and lesser powers.
  • The US predominance in the world is based not only on its military power and economic powers but on its cultural presence.
  • During the Cold War, the US scored notable victories in the area of structural power and soft power rather than hard power.

Overcoming the Hegemony

  • It is important to understand that there is no single power to balance the US military. There are various strategies which can be helpful to overcome the hegemony.
  • According to the Bandwagon Strategy, it is suggested that instead of engaging in activities opposed to the hegemonic power, it is advisable to extract benefits by operating within the hegemonic system.
  • Hide Strategy implies staying as far removed from the dominant power as possible. China, Russia and the European Union are many examples of this behaviour.
  • Another belief is that resistance to American hegemony may come from non-state actors rather than other states. It is believed that challenges to US hegemony will come from a combination of Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), social movements and public opinion.

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