Globocop No More: United States After Unipolarity

♠ Posted by Emmanuel at 3/29/2012 09:34:00 AM
LSE IDEAS has been churning out special reports at such a furious pace that I almost forgot to mention this one concerning The United States After Unipolarity. The title pretty much sums up what the contributions here say, although the various contributors do question the extent to which the--pardon the phrasing--globocop role will be outsourced to other nations or regions if not relinquished altogether. In the latter sense, what we may have is not a "changing of the guard" but rather the removal of guard duties not only in security matters but also in global economic governance and so on. While some folks such as yours truly are convinced that movement to a multipolar, superpowerless world is (a) inevitable and (b) a good thing, LSE IDEAS head honcho Michael Cox is less optimistic. As usual with LSE IDEAS, there is no "house" opinion evident (not that we'd want to have one):
However not all authors are equally pessimistic for America’s future. In a foreword, Professor Michael Cox, Co-director of LSE IDEAS, suggests that Europe’s debt crisis could strengthen the US by leaving it perfectly placed to exploit the economic revolution in Asia and to be the “strategic balancer to China’s rising power.” 
Still, the dominant theme in the contributions is that America's debts will drown it in a sea of red on present course, diminishing its residual urges for playing globocop. Again, it's not necessarily a bad thing considering that they've spent an estimated $4 trillion on foreign misadventures--including Afghanistan which it's in the process of losing without ifs and buts. Anyway, back to the press blurb:
Professor Morgan, from the University of London, writes that predictions for the US to hit its highest ever debt level in 2023 mean that resources will increasingly be eaten up by social security and medical benefits, leaving the nation increasingly unable to exert power with military or economic levers. He says: “From 2020 onward the future for US military power looks bleaker without a domestic correction of fiscal course. “The United States is slowly awakening to the reality that growing public indebtedness represents the greatest threat to its power and prosperity in the twenty-first century.”

Others authors in the study share this analysis: Dr Adam Quinn, from the University of Birmingham, suggests America will have to start making hard choices about areas in which it will leave itself vulnerable as shrinking military budgets remove the luxury of universal protection. The report points out that the final bill for US involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan is estimated at more than $4 trillion.
Alike with our other reports such as the one on India not likely to become or even aspire to superpower status, PDFs of the individual contributions are available online, although you will have to purchase print copies for posterity. Here's the summary on our (LSE IDEAS, not the main LSE website) page:
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.