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Home Publications Beyond exceptionalism? The United States in a multi-polar world
Beyond exceptionalism? The United States in a multi-polar world

Beyond exceptionalism? The United States in a multi-polar world

Elena Jurado & Priya Shankar

09 October 2009

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Beyond exceptionalism? The United States in a multi-polar worldBy announcing their intention to "reset" relations with Russia and hold direct talks with Iran and North Korea, the Obama administration has actively sought to embrace multilateralism. Around the world, this new willingness to engage has been welcomed with enthusiasm, especially following the unilateralist policies of the Bush years.

However, as this paper argues, tensions between multilateralism and unilateralism in US foreign policy continue to exist under the Obama administration. This is evident across three policy areas that have been utmost priority for the US government: the global financial crisis, the security threats in Afghanistan and Pakistan; and the existential challenges of climate change and non-proliferation. The United States approaches each of these issues with a sense of its own unique exceptionalism, which has historically provided the framework for US engagement with the rest of the world. As different powers rise and the world becomes multi-polar, a policy of engagement shaped around exceptionalism will become more difficult to sustain.

Foresight is an international programme of investigation and debate structured around the challenge of forging common futures in a multi-polar world, organised by the Alfred Herrhausen Society, in partnership with Policy Network.

Visit the project's deadicated webiste at www.foresightproject.net.

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