'The sneer of cold command’: Trump, American hegemony and the future of the liberal international order
Oxford University Press (OUP) for Royal Institute of International Affairs
Reason for embargo
Currently under an indefinite embargo pending publication by the publisher. 2 year embargo on publication
From its ambivalence towards its global security alliances, abrogation of free trade treaties and questioning of globalisation, the Trump administration has argued that the American-led liberal international order is too burdensome. How accurate is this portrayal? Drawing on theories of hegemonic leadership, the paper argues that the US national interest became globalised in the post-war international system and the US-led liberal order has given it enormous positional advantages. These include the capacity to shape the international preferences of other states, externalise domestic economic crises and construct the kind of international economy it wanted. Despite growing international competition, the US still has essentially the same global interests. However, neo-liberal globalisation has weakened the domestic consent for American leadership amongst large sections of the American working class, who have rationally rejected continued US commitment to a system that has deepened economic inequality in the US. Trump has ridden the wave of this discontent and although US elites may wish to return to the status quo ante post-Trump, these structural issues will remain. Trump may well do irreparable damage to the liberal order and thus more broadly the West. Whilst imperfect, the liberal order is still the ‘best of a bad bunch’ in terms of forms systemic order on offer, and if the luxury of choice remains after Trump, a new domestic and international social contract is needed to revive American global leadership.
This is the author accepted manuscript.
Awaiting citation and DOI