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The United States after Unipolarity

December 2011

Much has been made over the last few years of the prospect of a power transition taking place in world politics, as the United States' dominance of the international system appears increasingly under threat. If this narrative of American decline is at least partially correct then the United States will be forced to rebalance its foreign policy to a world that is no longer 'unambiguously unipolar'.

In this report, we asked a selection of experts to assess the challenges the Obama administration has faced in making that adjustment across a series of policy areas, from redefining how America funds and uses its military, through addressing global economic imbalances, to changing how others in the world view and work with the United States. The authors argue that the Obama administration has attempted to adjust US foreign policy in recognition of changes in the international order. They point to the domestic constraints and political cleavages that stymie that adjustment, and to the international difficulties that arise not just from pursuing a post-unipolar foreign policy, but also from the realities of a post-unipolar world itself.



Michael Cox

Executive Summary
Nicholas Kitchen

Hard Power in Hard Times: Relative Military Power in an era of Budgetary Constraint
Adam Quinn
Obama's Nuclear Weapons Policy in a Changing World
Andrew Futter
Obama's Interventions: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya
Luca Tardelli
The United States and International Economic Governance
Joseph P. Joyce
The American Economy and America's Global Power
Iwan Morgan
Repairing the American Image, One Tweet at a Time
Robert Kelley
Obama's Alliances
Steven Casey
American Democracy Promotion and the 'Arab Spring'
Oz Hassan