Since the end of the Cold War, the future of American power has been much debated. The collapse of the Soviet Union ended an era where the US role in the world was well understood, and the new era saw the US as a sole superpower, and much contention in terms of what that might mean for America’s future role. Would the US become predominant or preponderant in the international system? Would the US squander its newfound power through an increasing insularity? Would challengers rise to circumvent American power? In the wake of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, such questions became even more heated. Were there new transnational threats that could undermine US power in different ways? Would the US reaction to such challenges jeopardize American legitimacy in the world? More recently, the economic crisis of 2007/08 has again brought the debates to the forefront, and with the Western capitalist system seemingly mired in continual problems, new economic challengers to American power are seen as on the rise (or as already arisen). Are we headed for a ‘post-American world’, where states such as China, India and Russia are peer competitors to the US? Is the unipolarity of the US in the international system to be replaced by a multipolar system?
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