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Hegemony After 1991

Question: The ideals and idealism of regional hegemony and super-power status since 1991 have been one of bitter rivalries and contested claims. Kindly throw light on this issue, with your own explanation and views.

  • Regional hegemony occurs when one country in a region asserts dominance over the rest. It strives to become the dominant power in the region. A regional hegemony's connection with its neighbours is always similar to a world hegemony's engagement with its neighbours.
  • Idealism asserts that reality is made up of ideas, thoughts, brains, or selves rather than physical forces. Idealism is a perspective on life experiences and the globe that, in some way, values mind over matter. Idealism emphasises thinking in the same manner that materialism emphasises substance. Because there is no commonly accepted definition of idealism, it is amongst the most complex terms in the international relations dictionary to define. Similarly, no commonly accepted idealist tradition or model from which to generate meaning exists.
  • A superpower is a nation with a significant military or economic advantage, or both, as well as broad influence over other nations.

Superpower Status since 1991:
  • In the early 20th century, the world was governed by numerous hegemonic powers. Consequently, a new generation of major powers arose after and during the First and Second World Wars. Of them were the Soviet Union, France, the United Kingdom, China, and the United States of America.
  • The two most influential nations among the five were the Soviet Union and the United States. They symbolized two competing ideologies: Communism and Capitalism. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union during 1991, the United States achieved global hegemony.
  • Only when the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, the United States of America hegemony was complete. Without credible challengers for world leadership, the USA placed atop the international order.
  • China has succeeded in at least 3 different of the four areas, namely armed services, economical, and political domination. China's economy has become one of the fastest growing among the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) nations.
  • The USA is now commonly considered as the world's only actual superpower. The United Kingdom, Russia, India, France, Saudi Arabia and Germany all spend more on defence than the USA.
  • China is categorised as a "potential superpower" or a "rising superpower." China spends a tiny amount of what the United States does on defence. China makes up for this by enhancing its diplomatic efforts, emerging to be amongst the world's largest economic contributors, and technological achievements, especially in artificial intelligence (AI).
  • Russia is another emerging global superpower. It is the world's biggest country in the globe of land surface, comprising much of Eastern Europe and northern Asia sharing borders with over a handful other countries.

Reasons behind Origination of Superpowers:
  • To begin with, many superpowers exert influence through their military force. In the present era, this primarily refers to nuclear weapons, however the capability of monitoring the universe via satellite and spy technology is now becoming highly significant.
  • Consequently, numerous superpowers obtain significant impact through using their economic power. Nations with wealth may extract their control over the universe, buy resources, and impact trade flows. Economic strength is the most important form of power because it is required to maintain military dominance, expand cultural impact by trade and the press, and provide global geographic coverage.
  • Another method through which superpowers establish their influence is via cultural power. This can involve projecting a particular way of life or cultural ideals that affect how someone else thinks and acts. Superpowers have an influence on the concept of a developing universal culture of ideas and norms.
  • Superpowers gain influence in two fundamental ways: through political and demographic power. The ideal way wherein superpowers gain influence is by using geographical power. The radius of influence of a powerful country is referred to as this. A widespread physical or cultural presence might be the reason.

  • Developing and regional powers lack some sort of authority. Japan is a strong economic power, however it is a poor military power. Brazil functions as a regional power mediator in Latin America, despite its weak economic and military influence. China lacks the cultural and geographic dominance which the USA enjoys.
  • Depending on the situation, a superpower can exert influence in a number of different ways. One might argue that a nation is not a superpower till it employs all or most of the aforementioned strategies, although this is questionable. Nonetheless, it is clear that every technique, by itself, can have a huge worldwide impact. It has a sizable military force including the world's most powerful economy. Its cultural values have spread over the globe, and its cultural icons may be seen everywhere.
Written By: Shashwata Sahu, Advocate, LL.M., KIIT School of Law

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