In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power

Alfred W. McCoy

In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power
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In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power

Alfred W. McCoy

As the dust settled after World War II, America controlled half the world’s manufacturing capacity. By the end of the Cold War it controlled nearly half the planet’s military forces, spread across eight hundred bases, and much of its wealth. Beyond what was on display, the United States had also built a formidable diplomatic and clandestine apparatus. Indeed, more than anything else, it is this fourth tier of global surveillance and covert operations that distinguishes the US from the great empires of the past.

But even as it has used satellites, drones and cyberwarfare capabilities to secure an unrivalled global power network, its share of the global economy has diminished, its diplomatic alliances have begun to weaken and it has abandoned its claim to moral leadership. Meanwhile, China is emerging as the world’s largest economy, poised to integrate the ‘world island’ stretching from Shanghai to Madrid and lay claim to the South China Sea. The 19th century belonged to Britain, the 20th to America - will China take the 21st?

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