During the Cold War period, the world had a bipolar structure, i.e. the US and the Soviet Union dominated the world stage. However, with the disintegration of the USSR, the Cold War ended and the world was transformed into a unipolar structure with the sole dominance of the US. Nevertheless, the nature of US dominance since the Cold War has been different from its position as a superpower during the Cold War in the following ways:
a) Realm of hard power - During the Cold War, the US found it difficult to stand against the USSR in the realm of hard power. This was because, although the US as a superpower dominated the world scene, it had an equally powerful rival in the form of the USSR. However, after 1991, the US surfaced as the sole dominating power in world politics, as there was no real challenger to its hegemony . This further allowed greater room for the US to manoeuvre and to get involved in international issues that did not necessarily coincide with its national interest.
b) Nature of structural power- During the Cold War, the US had partially become hegemonic as a structural power. This can be cited from the following two major events:
(i) After the decline of the British naval powers during the Second World War, the US Navy has been playing the role of a hegemon naval power and proficiently ensuring the freedom of navigation in the international waters.
(ii) The Bretton Woods system set up by the US after the Second World War still constitutes the basic financial structure of the world economy in the form of the World Bank.
c) Cultural and ideological dominance - During the Cold War, the US had also been able to create itself as a soft power hegemon. It was able to successfully transmit its ideology of democracy and capitalism to the world. Moreover, after the Cold War, democracy and capitalistic economy became the important aspects of the world scenario.
Furthermore, the US has been able to exercise cultural influence around the world with people endorsing notions of good life, individualism and personal success, which certainly can be attributed to the American way of life. One may cite the example of the popularity of blue jeans culture across the world, which reveals the powerful impact of the US culture.