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Exit from HegemonyThe Unraveling of the American Global Order$
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Alexander Cooley and Daniel Nexon

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190916473

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190916473.001.0001

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The American Hegemonic System in Theoretical and Historical Perspective

The American Hegemonic System in Theoretical and Historical Perspective

(p.18) 2 The American Hegemonic System in Theoretical and Historical Perspective
Exit from Hegemony

Alexander Cooley

Daniel Nexon

Oxford University Press

Nearly every recent National Security Strategy of the United States takes for granted that the United States is a hegemonic power, that it constructed a liberal international order after World War II, and that it expanded that order from the 1990s onward. This chapter looks closely at these assumptions. What is international liberalism? What is hegemony? What is international order? How does world history look through the lens of theories of hegemony and hegemonic ordering? We argue that international orders have architectures—norms, rules, and principles—and infrastructures—the interactions, practices, and relationships that undergird them. Overall, international order resembles a dynamic ecosystem, one that structures the behavior of the states and other actors that constitute it. This helps explain not only why post–Cold War liberal enlargement faltered but also how it created conditions for its own unraveling.

Keywords:   hegemony, hegemonic wars, great powers, liberal international order, American hegemony, the Bretton Woods System, United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, neoliberalism, international order

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