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US Foreign Policy

US Foreign Policy (2nd edn)

Michael Cox and Doug Stokes
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date: 28 January 2023

p. 40923. US decline or primacy? A debatelocked

p. 40923. US decline or primacy? A debatelocked

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


This chapter focuses on the debate over whether U.S. power is in decline and if so, what is the best grand strategy that the United States needs to pursue. Three leading experts offer their views on the issue and its significance for U.S. foreign policy: Christopher Layne, William Wohlforth, and Steven Brooks. Layne argues that the United States is now in inexorable decline and attributes it to the end of unipolarity. He identifies two specific drivers of American decline, one external and one domestic. The external driver of U.S. decline is the emergence of new great powers in world politics, while domestic drivers include debt, deficits, and the dollar’s uncertain future. In contrast, Wohlforth and Brooks assert that the United States remains the sole superpower, and that multipolarity is not just around the corner.

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