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date: 26 March 2017

Hegemony in Foreign Policy

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Please check back later for the full article.

American realists, liberals, journalists, and policymakers speak of American hegemony as if it were an established role, although a threatened one, given the rise of China. They describe hegemony as essential to international political and economic stability, and a role that only America can perform. These claims are highly questionable as there is no evidence that the United States is a hegemon or that it has provided the benefits American international relations theorists attribute to a hegemon. To the extent these benefits are provided, it is the result of the collective efforts of numerous states, by no means all of them great powers. American assertions of hegemony are viewed with jaundiced, if not hostile eyes, by other states. Hegemony is a fiction, propagated by Americans to gain special privileges, justify an interventionist foreign policy, support the defense industry, and buttress national self-esteem. In practice, the quest for hegemony is a threat, not a prop, to the global order.