American commitments and defense expenditures make it a unipolar hegemon
Ikenberry et al, 09. G. John Ikenberry is a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, Michael Mastanduno is a professor of government and associate dean for social sciences at Dartmouth College, and William C. Wohlforth is a professor of government at Dartmouth College. “Unipolarity, State Behavior, and Systemic Consequences,” World Politics, Volume 61, Number 1, January 2009
There is widespread agreement, moreover, that any plausible index aggregating the relevant dimensions of state capabilities would place the United States in a separate class by a large margin.12 The most widely used measures of capability are gdp and military spending. As of 2006 the United States accounted for roughly one-quarter of global gdp and nearly 50 percent of gdp among the conventionally defined great powers (see Table 1). This surpasses the relative economic size of any leading state in modern history, with the sole exception of the United States itself in the early cold war years, when World War II had temporarily depressed every other major economy. By virtue of the size and wealth of the United States economy, its massive military capabilities represented only about 4 percent of its gdp in 2006 (Table 2), compared with the nearly 10 percent it averaged over the peak years of the cold war—1950–70—as well as with the burdens borne by most of the major powers of the past.13 The United States now likely spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined (Table 2). Military research and development (R&D) may best capture the scale of the long-term investments that military expenditures on R&D were more than six times greater than those of Germany, Japan, France, and Britain combined. By some estimates over half of the military R&D expenditures in the world are American, a disparity that has been sustained for decades: over the past thirty years, for example, the United States invested more than three times what the EU countries combined invested in military R&D. Hence, on any composite index featuring these two indicators the United States obviously looks like a unipole. That perception is reinforced by a snapshot of science and technology indicators for the major powers (see Table 3). These vast commitments do not make the United States omnipotent, but they do facilitate a preeminence in military capabilities vis-à-vis all other major powers that is unique in the post-seventeenth-century experience. While other powers can contest U.S. forces operating in or very near their homelands, especially over issues that involve credible nuclear deterrence, the United States is and will long remain the only state capable of projecting major military power globally.14 This dominant position is enabled by what Barry Posen calls “command of the commons”—that is, unassailable military dominance over the sea, air, and space. The result is an international system that contains only one state with the capability to organize major politico-military action anywhere in the system.15 No other state or even combination of states is capable of mounting and deploying a major expeditionary force outside its own region, except with the assistance of the United States. Conventional measures thus suggest that the concentration of military and overall economic potential in the United States distinguishes the current international system from its predecessors over the past four centuries (see Figure 1). As historian Paul Kennedy observed: “Nothing has ever existed like this disparity of power; nothing, . . . I have returned to all of the comparative defense spending and military personnel statistics over the past 500 years that I compiled in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, and no other nation comes close.”16 The bottom line is that if we adopt conventional definitions of polarity and standard measures of capabilities, then the current international system is as unambiguously unipolar as past systems were multipolar and bipolar.
Heg Up – Military
Kaplan 08, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security
Robert D, U.S. Hegemony May Be in Decline, but Only to a Degree, Washington Post, 12-16-08, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/16/AR2008121602480.html
That is akin to where we are now, post-Iraq: calmer, more pragmatic and with a military -- especially a Navy -- that, while in relative decline, is still far superior to any other on Earth. Near the end of the Cold War, the U.S. Navy had almost 600 ships; the number of ships is down, at 280. But in aggregate tonnage that is still more than the next 17 navies combined. Our military secures the global commons to the benefit of all nations. Without the U.S. Navy, the seas would be unsafe for merchant shipping, which, in an era of globalization, accounts for 90 percent of world trade. We may not be able to control events on land in the Middle East, but our Navy and Air Force control all entry and exit points to the [Middle East] region. The multinational anti-piracy patrols that have taken shape in the Strait of Malacca and the Gulf of Aden have done so under the aegis of the U.S. Navy. Sure the economic crisis will affect shipbuilding, meaning the decline in the number of our ships will continue, and there will come a point where quantity affects quality. But this will be an exceedingly gradual transition, which we will assuage by leveraging naval allies such as India and Japan. Of course we are entering a more multipolar world. The only economic growth over the next year or two will come from developing nations, notably India and China. But there are other realities, too. We should not underestimate the diplomatic and moral leverage created by the combination of the world's most expeditionary military and a new president who will boast high approval ratings at home and around the world. No power but the United States has the wherewithal to orchestrate an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, and our intervention in Iraq has not changed that fact. Everyone hates the word, but the United States is still a hegemon of sorts, able to pivotally influence the world from a position of moral strength.