American World Empire or Declining Hegemony


  • Terry Boswell Emory University



Gowan challenges the usefulness of world-system theory in accounting for the emergence of an American world empire. His argument is based on one fundamental assumption, that of overwhelming U.S. power in the contemporary period. The assumption, however, is flawed. The U.S. is clearly an uncontested military superpower, a world leader with the ability to project its power and interests around the world. But its economic hegemony is in decline, and it is no longer the overwhelming presence it once was in the world-economy. Moreover, Gowan is unable to support his thesis that the U.S. is becoming an empire over Europe. Although the U.S. occupation and administration of Iraq is an example of colonial imperialism, there is no evidence to show that the U.S. has begun to establish a core-wide empire. On the contrary, U.S. political control over Europe has declined to its lowest level in the post-WWII period. The persuasiveness of world-system theory in explaining the changing global political economy remains strong.




How to Cite

Boswell, T. (2004). American World Empire or Declining Hegemony. Journal of World-Systems Research, 10(2), 516–524.



JWSR MINI-SYMPOSIUM: Peter Gowan & The “Capitalist World-Empire”