Thirty years later: what changed since the US “unipolar moment”?
Thirty years ago, the Cold War was over: Europe was reunited after almost half a century of artificial and political motivated division; the exhausted USSR was about to collapse; and the US, along with its Western allies, was triumphant. Francis Fukuyama (1989) argued that the victory of Western liberal democracies represented not just the passage towards a post-war history, but also «the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government»; and furthermore, the «total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism» helped the West to prevail over the socialist model. A particular variant of Western liberal democracy that was emphasized at the time: the American one.
The US was not just celebrating a geopolitical victory over a three generations enemy – Socialism – but it strongly emerged from the Cold War as the only geopolitical superpower left; as a model of political regime – liberal democracy appeared to be the winning governing scheme –; as an “economic leader” – capitalism and free market defeated planned economy; as a cultural model – from East Berlin to Minsk, from Prague to Budapest, former Warsaw Pact’s countries were attracted by the consumerist wave triggered by America. In the post-Cold War world, the US was the model: unchallengeable, unmatched, uncontrollable. No country, not even in coalition with others, could consider competing on the military level with the great stars and stripes’ “post-modern” empire.
Policy Brief – Amedeo Gasparini, October 2020
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