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7 In the 15th century, China not only had the world's largest population and territory, but it possessed such technologies as a printing press, gunpowder and ships capable of navigating the world. Yet, C h i n a remained isolated and backward while the smaller Western powers created an ever growing world economy based on trade and colonialism which eventually engulfed China itself. Tiny Portugal used new navigation and sailing techniques to gather wealth and assert power around the world. Eventually, however, a technology and the power it brings will become diffused.

In a hegemonic system, power is primarily consensual - the hegemon must convince others that every state t h a t participates in the system will benefit. 34 Gilpin dismisses the claims that any hegemons bestrode the global political economy before the 19th century. 5 Until then the great powers carved out empires for their largely exclusive reserve, and any trade between them was limited by mercantilist policies whereby each state attempted to maximize exports and minimize imports. Thus, there was not one unified global political economy but as many systems as there were great powers.

Marxist-Leninism and nationalism gave Vietnamese the psychologial edge with which to win long, bloody wars against first the French and then the Americans. America's vast military might was defeated, not on the battlefield, but by mass opposition both in Vietnam and at home. T h e White House seems to have learned Vietnam's lessons; President Bush unleashed the American military against Iraq only after he had received overwelming United Nations and Congressional approval. But mass opinion can be a double edged sword.

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