chapter  12
41 Pages

Realism, American hegemony, and soft balancing

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States became the world’s only remaining superpower. A new era of unipolarity replaced the bipolar structure that had shaped international relations for nearly fi fty years. Following the Cold War, many realist scholars anticipated that U.S. hegemony would not last long, and that the international system would soon become multipolar. Their predictions were grounded in a balance of power logic shared by several structural realist accounts: if too much power is accumulated by any one state, this will cause countervailing coalitions to form and result in a balance of power being restored in the international system. Following this reasoning, for the most part realists dismissed American hegemony as a “moment” that would soon pass.