Is the United States Still a Global Superpower?


Yesterday, the Guardian made the case that while the U.S. military retains global reach, America's role as a global leader is gradually ending.

The editors argue that Al-Qaeda failed not because of American policy, but because the Arab people rejected its legitimacy:

"Al-Qaida failed, not by being bombed out of the tribal areas of Pakistan or by losing its video-hugging leader. It failed as an ideological alternative, in its own terms and for its own people. It failed in Egypt, the country that mattered most to its chief thinker, the Egyptian-born doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri. When the opportunity arose for millions of Muslims to shed their brutal Arab yoke (this was supposed to be the fourth phase in the construction of the Caliphate, to be accompanied by physical attacks against oil suppliers and cyber ones on the US economy), nothing of the sort happened."

As such, they contend that Washington has become a spectator, not an active participant, in the Middle East and around the world:

"Al-Qaida's failure was all the more significant because the western response, the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, also failed. ... This is the next feature of the world we live in. It is an age of the self-defeating intervention.

... Protectionism not internationalism rules the day. The Middle East has been transformed from a zone of allies to one in which Washington has been reduced to the role of spectator. It is now largely a taker of Middle Eastern policy, not one of its makers. There are other parts of the globe where US power projection finds natural allies, such as the Pacific, where China's rise is feared. So the paradox is that while US military power retains global reach (it is working on supersonic cruise missiles, and long-range drones) its stewardship as world leader, as a generator of the next big idea, is gradually ending. There may come a time when international institutions are rebuilt to fill this vacuum. But that time is not yet. Until then, a new world disorder would be nearer the mark."

Question for debate: Do you agree that America's reign as world leader has come to an end? Are we in the midst of a "new world disorder," with America on the decline?

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