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

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

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

Beginning of the ‘New World order’

• The US hegemony began in 1991 after the disintegration of USSR. 

• In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and annexed it. 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.’

• A massive coalition force of 660,000 troops from 34 countries fought against Iraq and defeated
it in what came to be known as the First Gulf War. This UN operation, which was called ‘Operation Desert Storm’, was overwhelmingly American. An American general, Norman Schwarzkopf, led the UN coalition and nearly 75 per cent of the coalition forces were from the US.

• The First Gulf War revealed the vast technological gap that had opened up between the US military
capability and that of other states.

The Clinton Years

• Despite winning the First Gulf War, George H.W. Bush lost the US presidential elections of 1992 to William Jefferson (Bill) Clinton of the Democratic Party.

• Clinton even won in 1996 and was in power for eight years. He was more inclined towards domestic rather than foreign policy issues.

• During Clinton era, US focused on soft matters like change in climate, promotion of democracy and promotion of world trade rather than hard politics of military power and security.

However, two important US actions during Clinton era were:

• Yugoslavia: During Clinton era also, US used military action against Yugoslavia in 1999. The Albanian population in Kosovo province of Yugoslavia was being troubled by Yugoslav’s forces. Led by US, NATO forces bombarded targets in Yugoslavia for over two months. It led to major developments; downfall of Slobodan Milosevic’s government in Yugoslavia and stationing of NATO force in Kosovo.

• Operation Infinite Reach: In 1998, a terrorist outfit called Al-Qaeda bombed US embassies in Nairobi (Kenya) and Dar-es Salaam (Tanzania). It led to 'Operation Infinite Reach’. A series of crude missile attacks were launched on Al-Qaeda terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Sudan. It even hit certain civilian areas. In this regard, US did not pay heed to international law or UN sanctions.

9/11 and the ‘Global War on Terror

• On 11 September, 2001, hijackers from Arab countries hijacked four commercial planes shortly after takeoff and dashed in some important US buildings.

• Two aircraft dashed into the twin-North and South towers of World Trade Centre in New York. A third aircraft crashed into the Pentagon building in Arlington, Virginia which is headquarters to the US Defence Department. The fourth aircraft, presumably bound for the Capitol building of US Congress came down in a field in Pennsylvania.

• The attacks nearly killed 3000 people.

• 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.

• The US forces made arrests all over the world, often without the knowledge of the government
of the persons being arrested and detained them in secret prisons.

The Iraq Invasion

• In 2003, the US proposed to launch an invasion against Iraq. The objective of the invasion was to prevent Iraq from developing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The UN however, refused to mandate the invasion.

• On 19 March 2003, the US launched its invasion of Iraq, called as ’Operation Iraqi Freedom’ which  was a clear violation of the UN charter.

• Baghdad fell on April 19, 2003. Later on December 13, 2003, Saddam Hussein was also captured. US lost around 3000 personnel in the war. However, the Iraqi casualties were much higher.

• Since no WMD was found in Iraq, it is speculated that US had petty interests like controlling Iraqi oilfields and installing a US friendly regime in its invasion of Iraq. Despite removal of Saddam Hussein, US has been unable to pacify the ethnic civil war in Iraq proving the crisis to be a military and political failure.

What does hegemony mean?

• The word ‘hegemony’ means the leadership or predominance of one state over others by virtue of its military, economic, political power and cultural superiority.

• The word ’Hegemony’ is used in three different senses to be related to contemporary world politics:

Hegemony as Hard Power

• The first meaning of hegemony relates to the relations, patterns and balances of military capability between states. The roots of contemporary US power lie in its military superiority over other powers.

• US military dominance today is both absolute and relative. In absolute sense, the US has the military capability to reach any point on the planet with its lethal weapons targeting accurately and in real time.

• The US invasion Of Iraq was a clear demonstration of its hegemony as a hard power. It was a show of military and technological superiority. However, it is not that US does not have vulnerabilities. The US has not been able to force Iraqi people to submit to its Coalition forces.

Hegemony as Structural Power

• The second meaning of ’hegemony’ owes its trace to a basic perception of the world economy. It is based on the notion that an open and competitive world economy needs a ’hegemon’ or dominant power to stabilise its creation and existence. The hegemon must have the ability and desire to lay down norms for creating and sustaining the structure of global economy.

• In second sense, hegemony, therefore relates to the role which US plays in providing global public goods. Public goods are those goods whose availability is open to all for consumption on an open and equitable basis. Roads and fresh air are examples of such goods.

• 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 a unique American idea.

Hegemony as Soft Power

• Third dimension of US hegemony is the ideological and cultural dimension. Hegemony relates to class ascendancy in social, political and ideological spheres.

• Hegemony prevails when the predominant class or country gets the consent of the dominated classes, to perceive the world in a manner favourable to the dominant class.

• US culture is the most seductive and dominant on the earth at the moment.

Constraints on American Power

• There are three constraints on American power:

• The first constraint is the institutional architecture of the American state itself. A system of division of powers between the three branches of government places significant brakes upon the unrestrained and immoderate exercise of America’s military power by the executive branch.

• The second constraint is domestic in nature and stems from the open nature of American society. There is a deep scepticism regarding the purposes and methods of government in American political culture.

• The third constraint on American power is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) which is only organisation in the international system that could possibly moderate the exercise of American power.

India’s Relationship with the US

• During the Cold War years, India’s closest friendship during those years was with the Soviet Union.

• Over the years, India decided to liberalise its economy and integrate it with the global economy. This policy and India’s impressive economic growth rates in recent years have made the country an attractive economic partner for a number of countries including the US.

• Two new factors emerged in Indo-US relations in recent years:
→ 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:
→ 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.

• India needs to develop an appropriate mix of foreign policy strategies to deal with the US.

How can hegemony be overcome?

• India must recognise that no single power is anywhere near balancing the US militarily. 

• Bandwagon Strategy suggest 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 states staying as far removed from the dominant power as possible. China, Russia and the European Union are examples of this strategy.

• Some people believe that resistance to American hegemony come from non-state actors. These challenges to American hegemony will emerge in the economic and cultural realms, and will come from a combination of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), social movements, and public opinion; it may arise from sections of the media and intellectuals, artists, and writers.

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