November 12, 2020

Liberalism, Realism, Nationalism, and the U.S.’s Role in the World

John Mearsheimer

The United States has, since 1945, taken on three roles and coinciding motifs in the international system. In the bipolar world of the Cold War (c. 1945-1989), the US engaged in Realpolitik to combat its material-ideological enemy of the USSR. In the US-dominated unipolar world (c.1989-2016), the US used the non-competitive international system to spread its neoliberal/democracy-focused agenda. It now reverts to Realpolitik in this multipolar world (c.2016-present) as the US, China, and Russia compete for influence in this fractured international system. The economic underpinning of the Unipolar world, neoliberalism, was an abject failure that triggered an end to this hegemony. The US’s mission to spread liberal democracy failed because the austerity measures and restrictions induced by neoliberal policies caused devastation and debt worldwide.

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