The Future Of World Politics And American Hegemony

As the world begins to tentatively find its way into the post-COVID era, and as we progress deeper into a new decade, it is time to ask questions about the United States’ role as the global hegemon of world politics and the shaping of the geopolitical order. The future of world politics and America’s global leadership is likely to be tested, if not lost, in the wake of several evolving challenges: climate change, the rise of China as a global superpower, the advancement of the technological and cyber industries, the accumulation of greater influence by middle powers, and the state of domestic politics in the United States herself.

On America’s domestic political situation’s effects on its overall status as global hegemon, there is a growing belief among international relations scholars, such as Francis Fukuyama, that America’s capacity to assert its global dominance, security, and influence relies heavily on a peaceful political situation at home. While bodies such as the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development claim that the Biden Administration’s increased multilateralism and global co-operation are “extremely promising,” the global community is now hesitant to fully rely on American involvement after its dramatic isolationist turn under the Trump Administration. This provides an opening for middle powers to assert more influence and reshape the global order of power, potentially destabilizing international politics.

The Black Lives Matter protests and the January 6th attack on the Capitol illustrate the United States’ instability of domestic politics and extreme political polarization. As these events unfolded over the past 18 months, the global public invariably wondered how the United States could prevent the threat of growing powers around the world if it could not prevent an attack on the Capitol by its own citizens. This question has significant ramifications for U.S. hegemony in world politics.

As new regional and global powers emerge; as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to significantly destabilize domestic and international politics, economies, and societies; and as powerful new technologies are being developed faster than governments can manage to regulate them, a cauldron of tension is heating up in the realm of international geopolitics. Furthermore, questioning the United States’ role creates concerns for middle powers and allies such as Australia, as they attempt to navigate regional tension and develop security strategies.

However, this uncertainty need not be all doom and gloom. Learning from the risks of disaster which underpinned the Cold War, both China and the United States are resistant to the threat of going to war with each other. While this does not rule out smaller proxy wars or conflicts between other countries around the world, the nuclear deterrent and the superpowers’ aversion to conflict serve as a useful platform to advance peaceful co-operation to take on the broader challenges of future world politics. Ultimately, it is crucial that the United States, China, and emerging middle powers view peace as the prime avenue for achieving their goals. Mediating bodies, such as the United Nations and other multilateral institutions, play a strong role in pushing these countries towards peaceful diplomatic solutions and greater collaboration against the challenges that will encompass all states and societies.