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The United States and the Great Powers: World Politics in the Twenty-First Century

The United States and the Great Powers: World Politics in the Twenty-First Century

Barry Buzan

ISBN: 978-0-745-63375-6

Oct 2004

240 pages

In Stock

$29.95

Description

The idea that world politics can be understood in terms of a US dominated unipolarity became generally accepted during the 1990s. Following the September 11 attacks, however, US foreign policy took an imperial turn and many began to question the form, style and substance of US leadership at the start of the 21st Century.


But why is the US behaving as if it lived in a world of enemies? What can other great powers do to change the behaviour of the US, and what will be the consequences if they fail? Could the EU and China become superpowers alongside the US? And what would happen if the US stepped down from its superpowers role creating a world with only great powers and no superpowers?

In this important new book, Barry Buzan seeks to provide answers to these pressing questions. He begins by introducing the core concepts of polarity and identity in world politics, which he uses to develop three possible scenarios for the future development of the international political system. Buzan contends that we are not living in a strictly unipolar world, where the great powers are helpless in the face of the US. Instead he argues that the existence of great powers alongside an American superpower plays a crucial role in creating both opportunities and responsibilities which will shape the way in which world politics unfolds in the coming decades. What the great powers do or don't do will be crucial to how long US dominance lasts. It will also help determine whether the period of American hegemony will develop or destroy the unique multilateral international society built up by US foreign policy over the last half century.

Chapter one - Introduction.

Chapter two- Identity.

Chapter three - Polarity in Theory and Practice.

Chapter four - Great Powers - A Troubled Concept?.

Chapter five - Rethinking Definitions: Superpowers, Great Powers and Regional Powers.

Chapter six - Where We Are Now: One Superpower and Several Great Powers.

Chapter seven - Options for the Future I: Two or Three Superpowers and a Few Great Powers.

Chapter eight - Options for the Future I: Two or Three Superpowers and a Few Great Powers.

Chapter nine - Understanding the Turn in the US Foreign Policy.

Chapter ten - Where to From Here?.

"The argument is rigorous and intriguing - revealing both for the limits and possibilities of applying structural models to grand strategy."

Alex Goodall, Times Higher Education Supplement

"An extremely lucid exposition of contemporary big power international politics, with measured and sensible glimpses into various conceivable future world orders."

John Dumbrell, International Affairs

"This is a superb piece of scholarship. It both draws on and deepens contemporary IR theory and illuminates the real world of post-9/11 international relations ... indeed, it does what few current books in IR can claim in recent years - it truly links the theoretical world to the real world and thereby advances our understandings in both realms."

John Ikenberry, Georgetown University


"The subject of mapping the international system since the end of the Cold War is one that has attracted a number of writers, but few have approached it with the clarity and rigour of this text. Barry Buzan writes very well, with the result that his argument is readily accessible and easy to engage with."

James Mayall, University of Cambridge


  • A major contribution to debates about US hegemony by an internationally renowned scholar.
  • Advances three possible scenarios for the future development of the international political system.
  • Questions the form, style and substance of US leadership at the start of the twenty-first century.

  • Contends that we are not living in a strictly unipolar world where the great powers are helpless in the face of the US.