The End of the American Era

U.S. Foreign Policy and the Geopolitics of the Twenty-first Century

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

At a time when American primacy appears to be stronger than ever, Council Fellow and Georgetown Professor Charles Kupchan argues that the end of Pax Americana is near. What will replace American supremacy, and how American leaders should prepare for this new era, are the central questions of this provocative new book.

In a work of remarkable scope, Kupchan contends that the next challenge to America is fast emerging. It comes not from the Islamic world or an ascendant China, however, but from an integrating Europe, whose economy already rivals America's. According to Kupchan, as the European Union seeks influence commensurate with its economic status, it will inevitably rise as a counterweight to the United States. America and Europe are parting ways, and the discord will extend well beyond the realm of trade. Decades of strategic partnership are poised to give way to renewed geopolitical competition.

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Kupchan argues that the unraveling of American primacy will be expedited by growing opposition at home to the country's burdensome role as global guardian. Although temporarily reawakened by terrorism, America's appetite for international engagement is on the wane; the country's historic aversion to foreign entanglements is making a comeback. Returning as well is America's fondness for unilateral action, which risks alienating the partners needed to tame an increasingly complex world.

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Reviews and Endorsements

Kupchan therefore looks sensibly ahead to consider the kinds of multinational institutions and global management systems that might preserve American interests in a new century when Europe is already an equal economic superpower, and China and India seem destined to become full-spectrum (including nuclear) superpowers in their turn.

Excerpted from Martin Walker's review, Washington Post

Kupchan elegantly explores the benefits and the dangers of U.S. primacy and the system of globalization that has come with it. His call for a rethinking of America's role in the world could not be more timely. And his use of history to puncture the conventional wisdom and warn off complacency about the future could not be more appropriate. This book is well worth reading.

George Soros

This original and informative work challenges our current conventional wisdom and offers useful strategic guidance. Agree with it or not, Kupchan will make you think and reexamine your assumptions as you enjoy the clarity of his writing and thought.

Anthony Lake, National Security Advisor in the first Clinton Administration

Who can now doubt that there is an American empire? But how long can it last? What should be the goals of U.S. power and purpose? In this dazzling work, steeped in history and politics, Charles Kupchan maps out an original and persuasive vision of where America and the world are headed. The time to read this book is now.

James Chace, author of Acheson: The Secretary of State Who Created the American World

A bracing challenge to the common view that American supremacy, the spread of democracy, and economic interdependence have put an end to rivalries among the great powers. Kupchan shows that terrorism is not the most important challenge the U.S. faces and that without careful management the decline of U.S. power will lead to a much more dangerous world.

Robert Jervis, author of Perception and Misperception in International Politics

An important and provocative reassessment of American power and foreign policy. Charles Kupchan draws on the lessons of the past to present a bold picture of the challenges that lie ahead. This book will make you sit up and think.

Lee H. Hamilton, Director, Woodrow Wilson International Center

America rules the world, but not for long, Charles Kupchan argues in this compelling analysis, rich in the lessons of history, that will shatter comforting illusions of a perpetual Pax Americana. This book promises to be as controversial as it is insightful.

Ronald Steel, author of Walter Lippmann and the American Century

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