The US Power Position: An Analysis of Foreign Policy Elite Interpretations

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Ekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: It is rather undisputed that the United States has maintained its position of global primacy since the end of the Cold War. According to the current Bush- administration and the US National Security Strategy, this power will be used to fight terrorists as well as to encourage free and open societies on every continent. With this position held by the government, it becomes essential to know more about the US power to better understand world politics. What opinions an American foreign policy elite has on international politics in general and on the US power in particular, can be consideredto have a certain influence on the US governmental policy making and is hence an interesting object of analysis for an improved knowledge of the US power position. This thesis aims to analyse different foreign policy elite interpretations, both of the present US situation and of what can be expected in the near future. In addition to opinions on the power position itself, the question addressed is whether there seem to be any impact of modern theories of international politics among the elite and if these theories are relevant at all for policy- orientated estimations. The result of the analysis indicates at least some impact of neorealism, neoliberalism and social constructivism, while there tend to be no influence of feminist IR-theory. However, as a base assumption in this thesis, most modern theories of international politics are conceived as partly related to a realist tradition in the field of academics, and this might diminish the influence of the separate theories among the elite. Accordingly, nor can extreme theoretical differences be confirmed, neither can the differences be disregarded. A majority of the foreign policy elite representatives describe the present US position as unrivalled in all critical dimensions, with an unsurpassed military, economic, technological and cultural power. The opinions on the expected power position in the near future are more diverging and suggest different courses of development. However, as long as the US keeps the precedence of interpretation and attracts others to American values and ideas, in addition to a solid base of economic and military strength, the US power position will most probably last for a foreseeable future.

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