chapter  1
21 Pages

American Ascendancy: Conceptualizing contemporary hegemony


It is hardly controversial to claim that the United States is the most powerful country on the planet. Indeed, it has become remarkably commonplace to observe that American power and influence are unprecedented, and that the only parallels for the contemporary ‘unipolar’ order are with the Roman Empire (Wohlforth 1999; Cox 2003). But when set against the global influence of present-day America, even Roman power looks modest and decidedly regional by comparison. While the language used to describe the US’s contemporary dominance of the international system can get a little overheated, it is clear that American ‘hyper-power’ is unprecedented in its scope and potential impact. As far as other countries and even regions of the world are concerned, relations with the US have come to assume an unrivalled importance as a consequence.