The Crisis of the Globalist Project and the Contradictions of American Power

Walden Bello


Most analysis of contemporary international politics proposes that the US “empire” is both unilateralist and omnipotent. This paper offers a different reading of the realities and contradictions of US power in the current world order. It argues that US hegemony is in fact unraveling in the face of multiple crises of the globalist project that has been in train since the mid 1990s—the consequences of the Asian financial crisis, the challenges to the US agenda at the WTO, and the collapse of the US “bubble” economy. These moments of crisis have been compounded by specific weaknesses of the Bush administration’s foreign policy especially since the September 11 attacks and the onset of the war in Iraq. This suggests that the US is actually an empire in decline and that Washington has both underestimated the problems it faces and mismanaged its role in international affairs. This situation offers some political space for anti-hegemonic challenges to the empire.


United States; foreign policy; globalization; Iraq; World Trade Organization; overextension

Full Text: