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PSIR 2A-7A] Rise Of Superpowers & 7C] Collapse Of Soviet Union– Previous Year Questions – Solved

Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)

1] Discuss the various constraints on American hegemony today. Which of these are likely to become more prominent in the future? [2023/15m/200w/4c]

The peak period of American hegemony lasted less than 20 years, from the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to the financial crisis of 2007-09. The country was dominant in many domains of power—military, economic, political and cultural.

According to Fareed Zakaria the rise of China and Russia’s rise from being both weak and quiescent in the early 1990s to being a revanchist power; with two major global players outside the U.S.-constructed international system, the world has entered a post-American phase.

The 2008 global financial crisis and subsequent economic challenges undermined the perception of American economic dominance. Fiscal issues, trade imbalances, and growing national debt pose constraints on U.S. economic power.

Further, the American unilateralism and skepticism toward international institutions have sometimes strained its relationships with allies and partners. The United States’ influence is constrained by the desire of other nations to assert their own interests within multilateral frameworks.

The extensive U.S. military commitments worldwide, including ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, place a significant burden on American resources and limit its ability to project power elsewhere.

The U.S. has experienced a decline in its soft power, as its reputation has been affected by controversial foreign policies and actions. Public perception of the United States plays a role in shaping its global influence.

Zakaria writes that, ‘just as American hegemony grew in the early 1990s while no one was noticing, so in the late 1990s did the forces that would undermine it, even as people had begun to speak of the United States as “the indispensable nation” and “the world’s sole superpower.”

Lastly, the prominence of these constraints in the future will depend on how the United States adapts to evolving international dynamics and the actions of other global actors. [292 words]

2] Critically examine the rise of People’s Republic of China (PRC) as a great power and its implications on Asian Political order. [2022/20m/250w/3a]

In 1993, Nicholas Kristof published an influential article entitled “The Rise of China” in Foreign Affairs magazine.

When Kristof’s article was released in 1993, China was in the midst of a period of strong economic growth, with its economy growing at an average of 10 percent annually. China’s rapid growth in the post-Cold War period was echoed at the start of the new century by another wave of high-speed growth that averaged more than 10 percent per year for a decade.

The economic progress is consequently followed by progress in other spheres of power and China’s rise challenges US pre-eminence in Asia and suggests new geopolitical possibilities.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a leading indicator of the scale of China’s global ambitions. While Beijing portrays the infrastructure development initiative as a benign investment and development project that is economically beneficial to all parties, there are strategic manifestations that contradict this depiction. China’s initiative has attracted interest from over 150 countries and international organizations in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The initiative is filling a void left by international financial institutions (IFI) as they shifted away from hard infrastructure development.

China has given Asian countries an alternative to the USA’s hegemony. But in turn, has increased the vulnerability of Asia by making it a potential battleground for China-US rivalry. In case of the East Asia, China keeps Japan awake with its expansionist claims on islands like Senkaku. In Southeast Asia, although it has a soft power influence, there are significant land-island conflicts. China has one of the most significant presence in South Asia where it is applying what some scholars call the ‘debt trap policy’ on developing countries e.g. Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

The major geopolitical emergence is the concept of the idea of the ‘pivot of Asia’ and the ‘Indo-pacific’. Similarly, the consolidation of the QUAD which has been enthusiastically initiated by Japan and the addition of Australia in the Malabar exercise is also a result of Chinese aggression. On the other hand, the Chinese-backed SCO and RIC are also rising in influence. China has a greater say in Central Asia under the pretext of development and counterterrorism. It is also getting closer to Iran which needs an escape from the US sanctions.

While China is no doubt an important driver of the global economy and the Chinese market offers numerous opportunities for the world, the sheer size and unspoken intent of China have caused many neighbouring countries to remain anxious and watchful. [417 words]

3] Critically examine the decline of the United States of America as a hegemon and its implications for the changing international political order. [2021/15m/200w/3c]

The decline of the United States as a hegemon and its implications for the changing international political order are showing complex and multifaceted impacts in world politics.

The decline of U.S. hegemony has contributed to a more multipolar world, with power being distributed among multiple actors. This multipolarity brings both challenges and opportunities, as different powers compete for influence and shape the global order.

The United States has been facing economic challenges, including high levels of debt, income inequality, and loss of manufacturing jobs. The rise of emerging economies, such as China, has led to a more multipolar global economic landscape. This economic shift has eroded the United States relative economic dominance and contributed to its decline as a sole hegemonic power.

The geopolitical landscape has become more competitive, with the rise of regional powers challenging American influence. China, in particular, has emerged as a major competitor to the United States, both economically and strategically. The assertive foreign policy pursued by Russia has also challenged American interests in various regions. This competition has diluted the United States’ ability to exert unchallenged hegemony.

The changing international order has led to a reevaluation of alliances and partnerships. Some traditional U.S. allies have sought to diversify their relations and pursue more independent foreign policies. This has weakened the cohesion of the U.S.-led alliance system and reduced American influence over its partners.

The decline of U.S. hegemony has created space for alternative models of governance and development to gain prominence.

Until now, the decline of the United States as a hegemon does not mean the end of its influence or significance. The United States still possesses significant economic, military, and cultural power. However, the changing international order and the rise of other powers have necessitated a reevaluation of U.S. influence and its ability to shape the global political landscape.

4] Critically analyze the implications of Sino-American strategic rivalry for the South and South-East Asian region. [2020/15m/200w/2c]

Scholars have begun to talk about a new cold war with respect to China and USA and the competition is most visible in the Indo-Pacific region, constituting South Asia and South-East Asia.

South East Asia is the most successful Asian region which adopted a liberal model for its development from the very beginning. South East Asia has good economic relations with both China and USA except the China’s arrogance in the South China Sea.  South Asian countries on the other hand have varied relations with both rivals. The USA was the aid provider and China has replaced it now. India, the largest South Asian state has its own conflicts with China which has made the USA come closer to it lately.

Dominance in South Asia would depend more on economic contribution and aid, which China is more capable of giving today. With respect to India, Chinese incursion has given the USA a thread to hold in South Asia by condemning China’s action. But South East Asian countries do not want to choose as they appreciate the USA’s promise while China’s economic boom is much more attractive.

For some scholars, it is the natural sphere of China’s dominance and its dominance is inevitable. But due to the political and cultural tendencies of these regions, the USA would not lose its space very easily. Moreover, the rivalry has not commenced any kind of arms race, so it is going to be a war for economic and technological supremacy as of now. [247 words]

5] Discuss the consequences of Trump’s ‘America first’ and Xi Jinping’s ‘Chinese dream’ on world politics. [2018/15m/200w/2b]

Trump’s ‘America First’ is an isolationist narrative and XI Jinping’s ‘Chinese Dream’ is a hegemonic one. President Xi Jinping’s China Dream is all about the rejuvenation of Chinese culture and its Confucian history as if it is Beijing’s “China first” strategy to bring back the glory of the Middle Kingdom. This nationalistic approach is increasingly similar to that of the “America first” rhetoric of President Trump.

In a way they are also complementing views, as America recedes in isolation, cutting off from multilateral organisations, China would be ready with its BRI to take the vacuum to fulfil its dream.

While Washington has withdrawn from a number of multilateral institutions, Beijing is expanding its influence in contexts like the United Nations. China is calmly mapping out global leadership aspirations from trade to climate change. Trump’s America First has also led to blaming other nations, especially China which resulted in the Trade war. 

This has made many developing countries look forward to China’s support rather than the superpower USA. This can be seen as a transition period of China becoming a superpower or even leaving behind the USA and totally changing the world order.

However, in 2020, Biden came into power with the slogan of ‘America is Back’.There is a shift in the country’s approach and the USA gradually taking back its space. It revived the relations messed up by Trump’s inward-looking policies. And it is ready for its rivalry with China on trade, technology and human rights. [246 words]

The post contains answers to the last 6-year papers i.e. (2023-2018). Answers to the previous year questions from 2013-2017 are a part of our book PSIR Optional Model Answers to PYQs (2013-2022)

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