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Power and legitimacy

Author: JianJunBo
Tutor: ZhuMingQuan
School: Fudan University
Course: International relations
Keywords: international power legitimacy the United States legitimacy dilemma nation-states system
CLC: D992
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2006
Downloads: 1392
Quote: 2
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Drawing on the theory of modern political legitimacy, this dissertation argues that modern political power at least needs to meet three preconditions in order to gain legitimacy. It then uses these preconditions to assess the legitimacy of the US international power in the post-Cold War era and finds that the US has suffered a legitimacy crisis and is facing a legitimacy dilemma of its power.The hypotheses of this dissertation are as follows: each kind of power will face demand of legitimacy from those actors who are under the influence of that power; then the US power will encounter the demand of legitimacy from nation-states and global civil societies after the Cold War. Facing this demand, the US always falls into the legitimacy dilemma, i.e., it cannot use its power freely in the end neither accepting legitimacy preconditions or not. The following sections should prove these hypotheses and explain the relations between legitimacy and the US power in the post- Cold war era.Based on these hypotheses, this dissertation is divided into two parts: the former is mainly to define the concept of modern international power explicitly and analyze the legitimacy preconditions of the power theoretically; the latter is to explore the reality of the US power’s legitimacy and to analyze the legitimacy dilemma that the US power faces.Specifically, in the first chapter of this dissertation, grounded on the general preconditions of modern political legitimacy, it analyzes the dynamic of demands for international power’s legitimization and defines the legitimacy preconditions of modern international power with three dimensions: abiding by international law and international institutions as for procedure legitimacy; respecting sovereignty principles, international democracy and cultural pluralism as for value legitimacy; providing rich and effective international public goods to international society and promoting international welfare as for functional legitimacy. If these preconditions are not met, the legitimacy problem will arise inevitably.In the second chapter, at first, it analyzes the two causes which contribute to the US international power’s legitimacy crisis: one is that, after the Clod War, the US has become the most powerful state in the world and it inclines to use its power inappropriately; and the other is that, under the shadow of U.S. power, the international society- nation-states and global civil societies- has raised their demand of legitimacy towards any international power.Subsequently, the dissertation explores the reality of the low degree of the US power’s legitimacy and the movement of anti-Americanism. In practice, the legitimacy of the US power is in a very low level for its unilateral actions which destroy international law and institutions, the humanitarianism interventions, trans-border military actions and invading wars which violate others’ sovereignties, the indifferent attitudes to international democracy which international society requires, and the cultural imperialism which erodes the bases of local cultures and traditions, and so forth. Additionally, America still maintains and strengthens the continuity of the old international economic order, harms the developing countries’ economic interests and doesn’t provide international society with rich and effective public goods which is helpful to promote global security and international cooperation. Because of low degree legitimacy of the US power, the movements of anti-globalization and anti-Americanism aiming at the US from nation-states and global civil societies in the world are remarkable. In a sum, the legitimacy problem of the US power is outstanding in the post-Cold War era.Finally, this dissertation argues that, two general strategies are presented for the US. policy makers in the context of very low degree legitimacy of its power, either to pursue an neo-imperial policy or to adopt a leadership strategy. Whatever strategy is taken, the US power will fall into the legitimacy dilemma: if abiding by all dimensions of defined legitimacy preconditions to become a world leader, the US will not be able to use its power to impose its will on other states and global social societies; if not to do so, it will be challenged by all kinds of resistances from within and without, and have to exhaust much of its own resources which it cannot afford in a long time. As to its foreign policies, this dilemma indicates the US foreign policies will constantly have the elements of these two strategies-neo-empire and leadership- simultaneously.

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