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System Maker and Privilege Taker

U.S. Power and the International Political Economy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 December 2008

Michael Mastanduno
Dartmouth College, Email:
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There is striking consistency in the international economic behavior of the United States across the bipolar and unipolar eras. The United States has been simultaneously a system maker and privilege taker, and its ability to play that dual role has required the willing collaboration of foreign partners. U.S. influence over those partners, however, has changed in important ways. During the cold war the United States dominated international economic adjustment struggles. Its ability to prevail in those struggles after the cold war has been significantly compromised. The United States, notwithstanding its preponderant power, no longer enjoys the same type of security leverage it once possessed, and the very success of the U.S.-centered world economy has opened a greater range of international and domestic economic options for America's supporters. In the unipolar era the United States may continue to act its own way, but it can no longer count on getting its own way.

Research Article
Copyright © Trustees of Princeton University 2008

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