International Politics

, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 220–238 | Cite as

Globalization, the Obama administration and the refashioning of US exceptionalism

  • Robert G PatmanEmail author
  • Laura Southgate
Original Article


The Obama leadership has seemingly gone further than previous administrations in recognizing that globalization has fundamentally reshaped the structure of world politics, and made the idea of US unilateralism deeply problematic. In the words of Susan Rice, while US leadership in the world ‘is necessary it’s rarely sufficient’. But the Obama team’s fresh emphasis on diplomacy, its tilt towards multilateralism and its desire to lighten the US global military footprint has not led to the abandonment of US exceptionalism. Rather, US exceptionalism has been reframed in terms of the resilience and power of the American democratic and economic example in an interconnected world. History, the Obama administration contends, is on the side of the American democratic political system. In contrast to authoritarian rival states, the US democratic model is not only more prosperous and stable, but is also able to more successfully adapt to the pressures and opportunities of globalization.


Obama unilateralism democracy US exceptionalism diplomacy world politics 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PoliticsUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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