Heg sustainable indict

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Soft power is more important than economic power – control of the international order and alliances – our authors are in the consensus

Dunn and McClelland, 13 – Professor of International Politics and Head of the Department of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Birmingham AND Associate Director for North America at the risk analytics consultancy Maplecroft in charge of energy policy (David and Mark, “Shale gas and the revival of American power: debunking decline?,” The Royal Institute of International Affairs, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-2346.12081/abstract)//eek

The idea that power is not merely a reflection of material capabilities is hardly either novel or restricted to discussion of US foreign policy or decline. Indeed, from Dahl to Lukes, Foucault and Habermas, the concept of power itself is possibly the most contested term in political science.15 Only the most ardent of realist IR scholars would deny that power consists of more than just the crude material base of a state. American hegemony does not simply pass to China on some future date when Chinese GDP surpasses that of the United States. If an economic metric like GDP was the sole criterion by which such matters were judged then the EU would have already replaced the US as global hegemon. Instead, there are characteristics of the current international order that allow particularly ‘American’ ideas of liberalism, democracy and free markets to prosper, and these are unlikely simply to disappear if and when China’s economy overtakes America’s. The legacy of the power of previous hegemons is evidence of this phenomenon, in that their enduring role in the international system is greater than their current economic weight alone would justify. In a similar way, for the US leadership role to be superseded would require the legitimacy of the existing world order to be systematically dismantled to undermine American power, not simply relegate its economy into second place.16 China is unlikely to challenge the United States while the legitimacy of the Pax Americana is not fundamentally deemed void. To challenge the viability of the US-led order, China would need both to delegitimize the present hegemon and to offer an attractive alternative to other states. This is extremely difficult for China to achieve, given its paucity of allies and the fact that there is little indication that its authoritarian model is an attractive one for export.17 China, then, labours under a serious lack of soft power compared to key states in the West, especially the United States. Indeed, to convincingly replace the United States as hegemon it would almost certainly require a greater degree of hard power to compensate for the deficiency in its soft power. For most of the world it is America rather than China or another competitor that is the ‘power balancer of choice’. Although US soft power was undoubtedly harmed by botched handling of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is nonetheless distinctly premature to speak of a permanent loss of soft power. Although images from Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib have damaged America’s reputation, it still has a vast array of soft power levers at its disposal, and President Obama’s five years in office since 2009 have somewhat redeemed the United States in the eyes of certain foreign observers. Most states in the world are not determined to contain or balance American power. American unipolarity has not generated a coalition of countries seeking to rein it in. In the current unipolar system there are fewer incentives for states to seek status in positional struggle than in multipolar or bipolar international systems.20 Indeed, Brooks and Wohlforth argue that the tremendous concentration of global power in the United States after the Cold War has essentially rendered ‘inoperative’ much of traditional IR scholarship concerned with power balances and international systemic constraints. Even if one accepts that China will become a Great Power in the future, its power is still significantly dependent upon the international system, which in turn depends on US leadership to function effectively.22

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