New paradigms, old hierarchies? Problems and possibilities of US supremacy in a networked world

Giles Scott-Smith*, Moritz Baumgärtel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


As Obama took office at the beginning of 2009, several new figures attained important advisory positions in his administration. Anne-Marie Slaughter, former Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and now Director of Policy Planning in the State Department, is a prime example of the 'change' that has come to Washington. In recent years she has been part of a growing academic circle that views networks at the centre of international relations. At the same time, she has promoted the idea that the United States can be 'the most connected country' in such a world. By taking a closer look into the discourse of US supremacy and the current state-of-the-art in the theory of transnational networks, this article reveals the divergence between wishful thinking and reality in Slaughter's position. By analysing her position and introducing three case studies, we conclude that the complexity of power relations in a world of networks makes any assumption of US supremacy highly problematic. Some might 'mirror' the beliefs and values of America (Open Society Institute); some might only be a 'prism' of various different voices (Al-Jazeera); and some might fall totally outside state control to form 'shadow networks' (Khan Network). Ultimately, it is the belief in US exceptionalism that perpetuates the claim that the United States has 'an edge' in such a world, with potentially problematic consequences. International Politics (2011) 48, 271-289. doi:10.1057/ip.2011.3

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-289
Number of pages19
JournalInternational politics
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • US exceptionalism
  • transnational networks
  • global media
  • global agora
  • network society


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