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The End of the American World Order, Amitav Acharya

Reviewed by Simon Reich

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Amitav Acharya is the current president of the International Studies Associa­tion. As such, his new book, The End of the American World Order, is a timely publication in terms of the two central arguments it lays out.

The first theme is a call for a non-Western approach to the study of international relations (IR), one that takes into account the importance of nontraditional actors, institutions, and processes from the “emerging powers” in the process of global governance. This pluralistic conception of IR is a long­standing hallmark of Acharya’s work.

The second theme is that the routine processes and debates associated with hegemonic decline in the conventional IR literature fail to grasp the current dynamics of change in the global system. Acharya implies that discussions about shifts in the polarity of power are essentially sterile. He explicitly states that those who favor the view that the system of values, rules, and institutions America has set up will be sustained—even as it relatively declines—are errant. In sum, he argues that what he terms the “American World Order” is drawing to a close. As he definitively states, “The age of global dominance by any single power as the world has previously experienced under Britain, then America, is over” (p. 4).

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