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US Foreign Policy

US Foreign Policy (3rd edn)

Michael Cox and Doug Stokes
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date: 07 December 2023

p. 39725. US decline or primacy? A debatelocked

p. 39725. US decline or primacy? A debatelocked

  • Christopher Layne,
  • William Wohlforth
  •  and Stephen G. Brooks


This chapter presents two opposing views on the question of whether US power is in decline, and if so, what would be the best grand strategy that the United States need to pursue. According to Christopher Layne, the United States is now in inexorable decline and that this process of decline has been hastened by the pursuit of global primacy in the post-Cold War era. He also contends that primacy engenders balancing by other great powers as well as eroding America’s ‘soft power’ global consensual leadership. On the other hand, William Wohlforth and Steven Brooks insist that the United States remains the sole superpower in the world and that it faces comparatively weak systemic constraints on the global exercise of its power. The chapter considers issues of unipolarity and multipolarity, along with the implications of China’s rise as a great power status for US foreign policy and hegemony.

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