Their policy snapshots don’t indict hegemony’s sustainability—their authors mistake between being unwilling to intervene for being unable to
Murray and Herrington 14
(Robert W. Murray, Vice-President @ Research at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Adjunct Profe2ssor of Political Science @ University of Alberta, Senior Fellow of Security and Defence Policy @ Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, and a Research Fellow at the University of Alberta’s European Union Centre of Excellence; and Luke M. Herrington, PhD student in the Department of Political Science @ University of Kansas, March 6 2014, “Russia, Ukraine, and the Testing of American Hegemony,” http://www.e-ir.info/2014/03/06/russia-ukraine-and-the-testing-of-american-hegemony/, Accessed 7/30/14, JC)
Many pundits, and even some scholars and military thinkers, favor greater action by the Obama Administration in the Ukraine. The world is unipolar, they assert, so the US must be capable of defending the norms and principles of international law, peace and security, and even weaker states in the face of aggression. This logic applies beyond Ukraine, with similar calls for American interventionism in Syria, Central African Republic, etc. The fact remains that it has become a common assumption that because the system is unipolar and the US is the world’s lone superpower, it has the ability to intervene in every crisis at every corner of the globe. And if the US can intervene, it should. Because President Obama has failed to meet these challenges head-on—from the “green movement” in Iran, to the Arab Spring, and on to Libya, Syria, and Ukraine—many of his critics accuse him of orchestrating a foreign policy of retreat. Or worse still, that his aloofness in world politics means that he has no coherent foreign policy to speak of at all. Indeed, last August, Frida Ghitis said the Obama Administration’s foreign policy was in “tailspin.” The problems with these arguments—that President Obama is not doing enough to meet these crises, or that the US ought to do more because it can—are many, but they fundamentally misunderstand unipolarity (or polarity in general) on one hand, hegemony on the other, and the relationship between the two—a problem itself derived from the neo-Reaganite/neoconservative misunderstanding of hegemony and hegemonic stability. Being the only superpower in a unipolar system (i.e., the hegemon) does not automatically afford the US the ability to act in every crisis, especially if doing so requires acting alone. Unilateralism has costs. Not only is the cost of action itself increased by acting alone (resources cannot be pooled), but it can cost political capital for a hegemon to act unilaterally if doing so is seen as illegitimate by a sufficiently large proportion of other powers in the system. A unipolar structure does not somehow erode or overcome the perceptions of states trying to ensure their relative power position in the international system. The hegemon must calculate, like other states, what will best serve its interests and what actions may be too costly, whether those costs are political, military, economic, or some combination of the above.
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