The Post-Cold War Era

Authored by: Steven W. Hook

Routledge Handbook of American Foreign Policy

Print publication date:  August  2011
Online publication date:  April  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415800884
eBook ISBN: 9780203878637
Adobe ISBN: 9781135967352


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As the previous two chapters have described, the defining feature of U.S. foreign policy from its origins through the Cold War was the persistent growth of American power both absolutely and relative to other major nation-states. The nineteenth century was characterized by aggressive westward expansion and rapidly expanding trade, both of which were fostered by a diplomatic strategy that preserved the government’s autonomy and unilateral prerogatives (see Gaddis 2004). The world wars of the early twentieth century, sparked by the implosion of Western Europe as a cohesive power center, ultimately produced a unipolar world based in Washington, D.C. The “American century,” a term coined by Time magazine editor Henry Luce in 1941, had begun.

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