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American Power, the New World Order and the Japanese by William R. Nester (auth.)

By William R. Nester (auth.)

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Thus, hegemons must accomplish by persuasion what imperial powers achieve by coercion. In a hegemonic system, power is primarily consensual - the hegemon must convince others that every state t h a t participates in the system will benefit. 34 Gilpin dismisses the claims that any hegemons bestrode the global political economy before the 19th century. 5 Until then the great powers carved out empires for their largely exclusive reserve, and any trade between them was limited by mercantilist policies whereby each state attempted to maximize exports and minimize imports.

In the early 20th century, the United States free rode itself to hegemony on the back of Britain's tremendous economic, political, and military burdens; Japan, in turn has supplanted American hegemony with its own through its neomercantilist policies since 1945. A hegemon's tenure over the global political economy depends on its ability to root its global commitments in economic dynamism. A hegemon declines when its commitments exceed its ability to pay for them. Nye succinctly summarizes "imperial overreach" as when "a Great Power becomes exhausted through the protection of its far flung interests.

Power and International Relations 33 Wealth, thus, is used to create yet more wealth and the political power that accompanies it. New industries and thus new wealth are amassed that would not have existed with free trade. International trade and power, in a neomercantilist world, is shaped by bilateral rather than multilateral agreements, with the balance of benefits varying according to the relative power of the states involved. If the states have roughly equal power the economic relationship will be mutually beneficial, but if power is unequal, the stronger state will exploit the weaker state.

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