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70 Foreign Aff. 23 (1990-1992)
The Unipolar Moment

handle is hein.journals/fora70 and id is 27 raw text is: Charles Krauthammer

E ver since it became clear that an exhausted Soviet Union
was calling off the Cold War, the quest has been on for a new
American role in the world. Roles, however, are not invented in
the abstract; they are a response to a perceived world structure.
Accordingly, thinking about post-Cold War American foreign
policy has been framed by several conventionally accepted as-
sumptions about the shape of the post-Cold War environment.
First, it has been assumed that the old bipolar world would
beget a multipolar world with power dispersed to new centers
in Japan, Germany (and/or Europe), China and a dimin-
ished Soviet Union/Russia. Second, that the domestic Ameri-
can consensus for an internationalist foreign policy, a consen-
sus radically weakened by the experience in Vietnam, would
substantially be restored now that policies and debates inspired
by an inordinate fear of communism could be safely retired.
Third, that in the new post-Soviet strategic environment the
threat of war would be dramatically diminished.
All three of these assumptions are mistaken. The immediate
post-Cold War world is not multipolar. It is unipolar. The
center of world power is the unchallenged superpower, the
United States, attended by its Western allies. Second, the
internationalist consensus is under renewed assault. The as-
sault this time comes not only from the usual pockets of
post-Vietnam liberal isolationism (e.g., the churches) but from
a resurgence of 1930s-style conservative isolationism. And
third, the emergence of a new strategic environment, marked
by the rise of small aggressive states armed with weapons of
mass destruction and possessing the means to deliver them
(what might be called Weapon States), makes the coming
decades a time of heightened, not diminished, threat of war.
The most striking feature of the post-Cold War world is its
unipolarity. No doubt, multipolarity will come in time. In
Charles Krauthammer is a syndicated columnist. This article is adapted
from the author's Henry M. Jackson Memorial Lecture delivered in
Washington, D.C., Sept. 18, 1990.

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