In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power

Alfred W. McCoy. Dispatch, $18 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-60846-773-0
McCoy (Beer of Broadway Fame), professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, portrays America, in its 20th-century rise to global governance, as Athenian in its ability to forge alliances, Roman in its emphasis on military superiority, and British in its vision of creating a global culture—one marked by a “restless, relentless quest for technological innovation.” As the U.S. attempts to maintain global stability in a context of its waning power, its approach to this task has incorporated three elements. A “surveillance state of unprecedented power” and global dimension complements an “advanced cyberwar capacity” focused on providing information to the military. Underpinning both is a sovereign “defiance of international law” linked to an arrogation of moral leadership. That contradiction may prove to be what undermines American global hegemony, concludes McCoy. He describes a series of scenarios and the ways they could play out to end the American century, among them a rise of “backdoor empires,” regional power blocs built around rising nations; a fostering of domestic divisions by relative and absolute U.S. economic decline; an escalation into disaster of regional crises; an outbreak of a full-blown world war due to a confrontation with China; and a global catastrophe caused by climate change. Even less-apocalyptic events point to “a striking decline in American global power by 2030.” McCoy postulates a grim future—but readers will be split on whether his vision represents an accurate forecast or a hyperbolic one. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 280 pages - 978-1-60846-774-7
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