Washington's New Interventionism: U.S. Hegemony and Inter-Imperialist Rivalries


  • Gibbs N. David






The 1999 NATO war against Serbia poses an intellectual challenge for the anti-interventionist left. On the one hand, critics doubt that humanitarian concerns regarding the fate of Kosovar Albanians could have motivated the United States to initiate this war. On the other hand, if humanitarian factors cannot explain U.S. conduct, then what does? This essay will attempt to answer this question, and will provide an analytical framework in which recent interventionist actions, including the war over Kosovo, can be understood. The basic argument is that the United States has grown accustomed to its position as the world's dominant power and has sought to preserve this status, which provides major political and economic benefits for the United States. Concomitantly, the United States has sought to contain rival capitalist states that threaten U.S. predominance. During the Cold War, the threat of Communism served to legitimate U.S. hegemony over other capitalist states; with the end of the Cold War, the United States has sought to use humanitarian intervention as one of the principal means to reassert its hegemony, to provide a context in which the most striking advantage of the United States—its overwhelming military superiority—can be emphasized.

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