Experts consider whether American primacy will endure or if the future holds a multipolar world of several great powers.
The unprecedented military, economic, and political power of the United States has led some observers to declare that we live in a unipolar world in which America enjoys primacy or even hegemony. At the same time public opinion polls abroad reveal high levels of anti-Americanism, and many foreign governments criticize U.S. policies. Primacy and Its Discontents explores the sources of American primacy, including the uses of U.S. military power, and the likely duration of unipolarity. It offers theoretical arguments for why the rest of the world will-or will not-align against the United States. Several chapters argue that the United States is not immune to the long-standing tendency of states to balance against power, while others contend that wise U.S. policies, the growing role of international institutions, and the spread of liberal democracy can limit anti-American balancing. The final chapters debate whether countries are already engaging in "soft balancing" against the United States. The contributors offer alternative prescriptions for U.S. foreign policy, ranging from vigorous efforts to maintain American primacy to acceptance of a multipolar world of several great powers.
Gerard Alexander, Stephen Brooks, John G. Ikenberry, Christopher Layne, Keir Lieber, John Owen IV, Robert Pape, T. V. Paul, Barry Posen, Kenneth Waltz, William Wohlforth
Michael E. Brown is Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Owen Cote is Associate Director of the MIT Security Studies Program and Editor of the journal International Security. Sean M. Lynn-Jones is Editor of International Security, the International Security Program's quarterly journal. He is also series editor of the Belfer Center Studies in International Security, the Program's book series that is published by MIT Press. Steven E. Miller is director of the International Security Program at the Belfer Center. Graham Allison is Douglas Dillon Professor of Government and Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.