It is evident that the 21st century faces a shift of both wealth and power from the West and North towards the East as well as the South. Some anxious observers argue that a change will occur in the world making it look less American as it happened at the close of the 20th century. Inkenberry (2011) argues that the shift of power and wealth will signify a change in the face of the world making it look less liberal. As such, Inkenberry (2011) argues that the newly powerful states have embarked on measures to advance their ideas together with agendas for global order with their respective measures focused on limiting the global role of the U.S. However, attainment of such a goal of weakening the status of the U.S. on the global context remains quite challenging for these nations. While it is wrong to deny the shift of power and wealth to other nations other than the U.S. and the West, it is possible to challenge the possibility of a decline of U.S. hegemony within the 21st century.
The rise of the rest of Russia serves as one of the major threats to U.S. hegemony in the future. According to Thompson (2015), the government of Vladimir Putin serves as one of the significant challenges of the current U.S. regime and future hegemony of the U.S. While Russia opted to take a silent approach since the end of Cold War leading to the break of the Soviet Union, Russia has of late portrayed its intention to challenge the U.S. dominance on the globe. However, achievement of such a goal for Russia remains quite challenging with various obstacles standing in its way. Of the notable obstacles that Russia faces relates to economic stability with the recent sanctions together with plummeting prices of oil seemingly serving as a blow to the Russian government (Thompson, 2015). Without economic superiority, it is unlikely that Russia will usurp U.S. hegemony in the world an indication that the U.S. remains far ahead of Russia and will continue to dominate the world in the 21st century.
The Brics serve as a representation of an alliance of nations namely: Brazil, Russia, India, and China together with South Africa. The creation of the partnership resulted with an aim of providing parallel steps that that focus on building productive economy after challenging the current system. It is important to note that the nations forming the alliance comprise of rising economies, cover almost forty percent of the world population together with a quarter of the global population. While such figures may sound promising for an alliance that aims at usurping the U.S. and its Western policies in the globe, the economic productivity of the alliance members combined prove otherwise. The alliance is yet to provide a world gross national income that matches its population and land mass with figures in 2010 portraying that the countries accounted for a quarter of the global gross income (Schaefer & Poffenbarger, 2014, p. 267). The, therefore, must address such challenges before becoming at par with the U.S. where they may then usurp its hegemony.
The Middle East equally offers some challenges for the U.S. leadership in the 21st century. Although the Middle East nations continue to register economic growth in the 21st century, the growth is far below the one that the U.S. enjoys. However, the region still serves as one of the leading terrorist bases and the U.S. must ensure that terrorism comes to an end if it is to retain its hegemony. The current issue of ISIS, a terrorist group in Russia, portrays some of the challenges that the U.S. faces in the 21st century. It is, however, important to note that terrorist groups not only affect the U.S. and its role as a global leader but also equally affects the Middle East countries to a significant level. For example, in the case of Syria, economic development is limited as a result of the terrorist group with other Middle East countries also wary of the terrorist groups as a result of their aim to usurp the ruling regimes (Weiss & Wilkinson, 2014, p. 256).
Africa equally presents future challenges to the U.S. most notably as a result of rising economies like South Africa and Nigeria. Consequently, Western dominance in Africa is diminishing as a shift is evidenced where some of the African countries are moving East for financial aid and other services. However, irrespective of the rise of a few of African economies and opposition to the U.S. policies, Africa significantly relies on the U.S. and its possibility to challenge U.S. hegemony in the global context remains significantly low (Inkenberry, 2011). Most of the nations in Africa fall into the category of developing economies an indication that they economic inferiority leaves them without the power to challenge super economies like the U.S. Other issues like droughts and hunger equally adversely affects Africa. Political instability, dictatorial leadership together with corruption also serve as significant limitations of Africa towards working together for commonality as it happens in the U.S.
Furthermore, it is important to note the threat of terrorism and climatic change as challenges that the U.S. faces in the 21st century and possible factors perceived to challenge its hegemony. However, it is important to note that the threat of terrorism is not only open to the U.S., but equally to all other countries across the world especially the rising economies. Consequently, the issue of climatic change results from global warming and, therefore, will affect all other countries across the world (Schaefer & Poffenbarger, 2014, p. 283). As such, it is indicative that irrespective of the existing challenges in the 21st century, the U.S. stands in a much better position while compared to other nations.
The U.S. is the world’s leading superpower. The rest of the world looks upon the United States to maintain peace and order while at the same time promoting freedom, free markets, and democracy. The international system used today was construed from American ideals. Moreover, international security structures are largely a collection of American alliances. The U.S. played a key role in the establishment of international financial institutions, while the principles that guide human rights the world over are founded on American and Western European ideals. Thus, many systems in the world are measured by American values. Consequently, the U.S. foreign policy reflects American commitment to the core ideologies of freedom, democracy, and justice. There are many states that still under the rule of undemocratic regimes, which even cause unrest in the entire world. These regimes threaten the security and peace in the whole world. As such, the United States, as a watchdog, must not look upon the United Nations or collective security to handle these threats. The American policy when handling such issues must reflect transformation rather than coexistence.
Lately, the U.S. has been criticised for being obsessed with promoting its democratic ideals in the rest of the world to the extent that it has become undemocratic in the process. These critics argue that, U.S. waged wars on countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq have created more instability by acting as breeding grounds for terrorism. In fact, evidence suggests that current terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State are groups that were created by the United Sates to oust autocratic regimes. Thus, America must be able to act pre-emptively if it is to maintain its position in the global power order. Any future wars should reflect American economic and political principles. America needs to strengthen its homeland security so that it can avoid scenarios, such as 9/11, that may portray it as weak to the rest of the world. Again, on security, Moon (2005) proposes that the United Sates should increase its commitment to its allies so that it can ensure security, not only in the Middle East, but also in Asia, Africa and Europe. On the same note, it should avoid relationships with tyrannical regimes that threaten the very values of democracy that America tries to promote.
While the America has the most sophisticated military system in the world, it has been attacked on its own soil: not once, but severally. Hence, it needs to enhance its defence system to counteract such acts before they occur. This will send a statement to the rest of the world that America is invincible, notes Schake (2009). It is also important to take a clear stand on any acts of terrorism. Democracy, freedom, and the rule of law must stand on one side and terror and forces of lawlessness on the other. While the War on Terror is an international struggle, the United States as a hegemony must lead the world in tackling it. America should show the world that it is a leader by helping countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq establish institutions of democracy once they have removed oppressive regimes. So far, that commitment is lacing, notes Barry (2014), with both countries facing civil wars many years after America intervened to overthrow the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, respectively. The United Sates needs to establish its presence in key regions by helping Iraq with the resources necessary to reopen its oil industry so that they can rebuild. In addition, there is need to continue spreading the principles of democracy in the Middle East, but only peacefully. War should only be an option when there is a direct threat to America or its allies.
Odom (2007) notes that America needs to employ the promises of economic aid and trade benefits to buoy up counties of the developing world and those of the former USSR to adopt American economic and economic policies.
The united Sates uses liberalism to maintain its dominance on world affairs through self-perpetuating processes such as democracy, international institutions, and international trade. Once a country has been unified via its all-inclusive nature, the country is then gradually absorbed into the liberal world order by progressively introducing other aspects of liberalism. The U.S. does this through concealed coercion, which then allows it to counter any counter-hegemony attempts. Nevertheless, the United States also faced certain challenges to its hegemony. For example, the rise of economic giants such as China has created new power centres the world over. Such occurrences have threatened to alter the balance of power in the 21st century in ways that may pose substantial challenges to the United States.
In any case, the United States still has the leading economy in the world, with china a close second. However, the challenge it faces is that it has been running a trade deficit since 1976. Worse still, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the U.S. national debt may soon surpass what it was before the Great Recession of 2007/2008. Yet again, the main competitor to the U.S. hegemony, China, is the one financing Americaâ€™s debt by purchasing U.S. Treasury bonds. This, of course, is important for other reasons: first, Goldman Sachs estimates that the Chinese economy will soon eclipse that of the U.S.; second, China hold the worldâ€™s largest foreign exchange reserve; and third, the Chines economy has been growing by double digits in the last decade. While these factors pose significant challenges to the U.S. hegemony, the U.S. is still undeniably at the helm of global hegemony in the 21st century.