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Re: The Future of Hegemony
by Threehegemons
15 September 2002 01:26 UTC
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In a message dated Sun, 15 Sep 2002 05:07:19 +0500 (PKT), 
skhurram@ns.lums.edu.pk writes:

> Having heard George Bush' speech before the United Nations General 
> Assembly, World Systems scholars must ask themselves:  which trajectory is 
> going to dominate the history of the 21st Century?  The rise of East Asia?  
> Or the collapse of West Asia?

Perhaps both.  Although it's not just West Asia that's collapsing.  Think of 
Colombia, Sierra Leone, Yugoslavia...

> It is interesting to note how the decline of American hegemony bears at 
> least one striking resemblance to its opening years.  America entered the 
> stage of world hegemony as a superpower overseeing the reconstruction of a 
> war torn country.  Around this reconstructive effort was built the larger 
> edifice of US hegemony.  I'm thinking of Germany, NATO and the containment 
> system in Europe, and Japan, the San Fransisco System and subordinate 
> industrialization in East Asia.  In its closing years, America once again 
> begins to assume the responsibilities, quite consciously, of rebuilding war 
> torn countries:  Afghanistan and Iraq.  The difference, quite obviously, is 
> that in the case of Germany and Japan, the American effort was remarkably 
> successful whereas in the case of Afghanistan it has 
> already faltered and 
> is not expected to fare any better with Iraq.  

Generally true.  The US also wants to reconstruct the Palestinian Authority.  

A couple of other differences:  Germany and Japan were the only states that 
needed 'reconstruction', nation-building, etc.  These days, where does the list 
end?  The discourse that nation-building is a matter of global security 
actually began before 9/11.  I recommend Mark Duffield's excellent book Global 
Governance and the New Wars.  Who exactly is going to pay for 'building' all 
the relevant nations?  And how exactly would it get done?  Its not that easy 
(Duffield worked with Oxfam in Sudan, and he's pretty bitter about how easily 
Western agencies get confused and simply make a bad situation worse)..

Why exactly is state-collapse a security concern these days?  Before the French 
Revolution, European states had a pretty threadbare hold on their territories.  
And throughout the nineteenth century Latin American states also lacked a 
strong centralized command.  These days, however, several things result from 
state-breakdown.  Refugees, the possibilities that wars will spill over into 
neighbors borders, the prospects of transnational armed networks hanging out in 
under-policed territory all make state-breakdowns global problems.  

I wonder if a hegemonic solution will emerge that is not based on the 
universalization of 'normal' nation-states, but on other forms of social 

Steven Sherman

> Khurram Husain
> Lahore,
> Pakistan

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