Council Fellow Charles Kupchan Predicts Waning of U.S. Primacy as Europe Rises and America Shuns Role of Global Guardian

November 6, 2002

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New York, November 6, 2002 — At a time when American primacy appears to be stronger than ever, 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 Kupchan’s provocative new book, The End of the American Era: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Geopolitics of the Twenty-first Century, published by Alfred A. Knopf.

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In a work of remarkable scope, Kupchan, director of Europe Studies and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and professor of international relations at Georgetown, 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. 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 toward foreign entanglements is making a comeback. Returning as well is America’s fondness for unilateral action, alienating the partners needed to tame an increasingly complex world. The impact of the digital age on U.S. society also promises to have profound effects on American politics and the scope and nature of the country’s role in the world.

By deftly mining the lessons of the past to cast light on our future, Kupchan explains how the United States and the world should prepare for the unpredictable and unstable global system that awaits. Timely and compelling, this book will take its place among the most insightful works of geopolitics.

“The End of the American Era is an absorbing and thought-provoking book on what Charles Kupchan considers the central challenges to future U.S. preeminence and global stability.”
— HENRY KISSINGER

“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

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"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 re-examine 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

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“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 for Scholars

“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


Charles A. Kupchan is a senior fellow and the director of Europe Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, and a professor of international relations at Georgetown University. He served on the National Security Council during the first Clinton administration.

For more information or to read an excerpt from the book, click:
The End of the American Era: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Geopolitics of the Twenty-first Century


Contact: Marie X. Strauss, Communications Office, 212-434-9536

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