The purpose of this paper is to consider the most likely future for the American empire. It is a speculative essay that takes as its starting‐point Slaughter's argument that the American Empire is unsustainable.
The paper shows that at this moment of flux in international affairs America enjoys unprecedented power but is meeting growing opposition. After a review of how America came to be in its current position the argument develops along different lines, exploring the capacities of states that might challenge the USA and exploring the new networks between states and other agencies that exclude America.
The paper finds that, while these networks have become increasingly dense, they are as yet insufficiently coherent to challenge US hegemony. If the USA adopts a less aggressive approach to the management of globalization it can build a new international architecture that will adorn its hegemony and avoid the new networks becoming a noose that will strangle its power. The US reaction to the new web of interstate and non‐governmental relationships that exclude it, and are motivated to some extent by a desire to challenge its authority, has the potential to determine the longevity of American power and the future path of international affairs.
The paper provides a measured perspective to distinguish between the idea of America and the reality of its foreign policy.
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