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Chapter

Peter Gowan and Doug Stokes

This chapter examines some of the central debates on how we should understand the United States’ efforts to reshape international economic relations since the 1940s. It first considers debates on the sources and mechanisms of American economic strategy before turning to debates about the substance of American efforts to shape the global economy. It approaches the debates about the substance of U.S. foreign economic policy since 1945 by classifying varying perspectives on this question in three alternative images. The first such image is that of America as the promoter of a cooperative, multilateral order in international economics. The second image is that of an American economic nationalism and the third is that of an American empire. The chapter goes on to analyse the global financial crisis and concludes with an overview of some of the main current debates about the strength of American capitalism in the world economy.