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Virginia Quarterly Review Fall 2001 Issue

U.S. Should Pursue Global Strategy In A Unipolar World

November 9, 2001-- The collapse of the Soviet Union was heralded in the West as a triumph of capitalism over communism, of democracy over totalitarianism, of good over evil.

From coast to coast, Americans thought that, with the United States as the sole, surviving superpower, the world surely was entering a new period of peace and prosperity. But as we saw on Sept. 11, when terrorists crashed three jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon -- giant symbols of American wealth and power -- not everyone shares the U.S. view of the future.

Norman A. Graebner, professor of history emeritus at the University of Virginia, analyzes the United States' ascension to world power status in his article, "Defining America's Role in a Unipolar World," in the current Fall 2001 issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review.

He contends that events of the 1990s gave the U.S. an inflated sense of its political, economic and military predominance. And while other countries may not feel militarily threatened by the U.S., still they worry that U.S.-driven globalization may harm their national integrity, political autonomy and economic health. Graebner notes:

By the mid-1990s, the external relations of the United States had lost whatever modesty and graciousness they once possessed. The ubiquitous claims to hegemony quickly, almost automatically, convinced much of the world that the United States had acquired a taste for dominance. Foreign officials and observers complained of American arrogance in its burgeoning efforts to dictate national and international behavior.

In this unbalanced world, with the U.S. acting unilaterally in pursuit of short-term policy goals, it has damaged a network of global relationships, leading to a less-stable world, Graebner believes. The United States must abandon this short-sighted and unsustainable approach to foreign policy, he argues. Instead, the U.S. must lead the way in seeking multilateral solutions to strengthen and expand essential international relationships.

Indeed, it may take a global conflict, like the one in which we are now engaged, to persuade U.S. policy makers to look to long-term, multinational strategies to address global issues, rather than continuing to view problems as occurring in a "unipolar world." Even so, Graebner appreciates the difficulty of creating a truly international coalition that both stabilizes world politics while enabling the United States to pursue its national policy goals.

About The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Virginia Quarterly Review, a journal published by the University of Virginia, is in its 75th year of bringing thought-provoking fiction, poetry and essays to the attention of the reading public.

Contact: Joanna Gluckman, (434) 924-6858

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SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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