International relations epochs seldom have abrupt beginnings and conclusions. Rather, changes to the norms, values and boundaries of international relations often occur in a painstakingly slow and ambiguous process. As the saying goes, Rome was neither built nor destroyed in a day.
The post-Cold War period seems to be the exception that proves the rule. The reunification of Germany, the crumbling of the Iron Curtain, the demise of the Soviet Union (and with it the Cold War clash of ethics and historical interpretation) occurred with a speed unparalleled in international relations history.
Since the Cold War ended in haste it seems fitting that the key events which have come to define the post-Cold War international order have also transpired seemingly out of the blue – ushering in changes to international expectations and exchanges in broad sweeps. On the pedestal of such changes lay the materialisation of a unipolar world – with the US as the benchmark global power to which all others assess their relative position within the international hierarchy.
Before commencing on the theme of this short work, a brief exploration of terms will help advance an understanding of the general agents being depicted here. Since I am focusing on hegemony, it is best to provide a theoretical representation which will later be attached to the empirical case of the US.