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The Decline of American Hegemony

Rajyavishek Pradhan


In the middle of the twenty-first century, the general argument that has been debated time and over is the decline of The US Hegemony in world politics and its impact on International Relations and Global Governance. Many renowned scholars hold the opinion that America in the twenty-first century is a declining power. Various structural, political, and systematic reasons have contributed to this ongoing decline.

Generally, Hegemony can be understood as the dominance of one group over another, often supported by legitimating norms and ideas. The US Hegemony comprises structural power, hard power, and soft power. The bedrock of contemporary US power lies in the

overwhelming superiority of its military and naval power. It is both relative and absolute.

The power, that America projects are a combination of both persuasion and coercion. Francis

Fukuyama (2021) claims that the peak of American hegemony, from the collapse of the

Berlin Wall in 1989 to about the time of the financial crisis in 2007–2009, lasted 20 years.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was the pinnacle of American hubris.

The Decline:

The USA is a waning power and this can be traced from the examples of The Global

Financial Crisis of 2008. According to reports, the crisis was one of the worst crises in nearly

eight decades as it had a crippling effect on America’s domestic politics. The decline of US

hegemony can be cited from its excessive military overstretch. The global image of the USA

as a powerhouse began to take a sharp turn with the advent of the military expedition in

Afghanistan, and the “Global War on Terror” in Syria and Iraq. Military expeditions and its

role as a forceful arbitrator in The Global South and other developing and underdeveloped

countries have raised eyebrows at America’s hegemony.

American society is deeply polarized and this polarization has damaged America’s global

influence as well as affected its foreign policy. Likewise, its humiliating retreat from

Afghanistan and its failure to prevent the Russian invasion of Ukraine in recent times by the

American Government only proves that America has been entangled with its internal


The emergence of China as a global power, particularly its rise as an economic power, and the fact that Chinese manufacturing companies are out-producing US companies is another reason for concern. Financial institutions such as BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) have rivaled the US-led Bretton Woods System and The Washington Consensus. China is expected to surpass the US as the world’s largest manufacturer and is predicted to become the world’s largest economy in dollar-based GDP by 2041.


America’s gradual decline is paving the way for the end of unipolarity in the world. The

emergent multilateral world order has resulted in the rise of China. Through its massive

economic stature, China has been emerging as a rule-maker in the twenty-first century. The

balance of influence in the sphere of economy, particularly geo-economy has shifted to

China. The resurgence of China and its command over Inter-Governmental Organisations

such as the United Nations (UN) and various international institutions are leading the way for

a new dominant order without the USA.


American Hegemony is facing the most entrenching challenges in recent times and it is often failing to counter the alternative world views. Against this backdrop, an alternative view

suggests an impending new world order will mark a new era of dominance. It has also been

suggested that the USA is not likely to regain its earlier hegemonic status. Therefore, the

contemporary and ongoing power transition from the West to the East can have several

repercussions. International Relations and Global Governance will therefore usher into a new

phase without the US as a Global Hegemon.



I. Knight, Andy, W. “US HEGEMONY.” In International Organizations and Global

Governance, edited by Thomas G. Wiess and Rorden Wilkinson. (Routledge, New York,


II. Fukuyama, Francis. “Francis Fukuyama on the end of American hegemony.” The

Economist. August 2021.

III. Winder, Robert. Soft Power: The New Great Game for Global Dominance. (Hachette,

UK, 2020).

IV. Chase-Dunn, Chris, Roy Kwon, Kirk Lawrence, and Hiroko Inoue. “LAST OF THE


of Modern Sociology 37, no. 1 (2011): 1–29.


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