"...Economies around the world have slowed. In virtually every major country — the United States, China, Germany — growth has declined from what it once was, creating a global slowdown. Not surprisingly, the supposed connection between greater prosperity and democratic politics failed to materialize.
Democratic disillusion has paralleled economic disappointment. Globalization and trade have fallen into disrepute, charged with reducing the wages and jobs of industrial workers in advanced societies. With aging populations, governments in these countries are overcommitted. They struggle to pay costly welfare benefits. Public opinion, rather than strengthening democratic ideals, has veered toward economic populism and nationalism. Hello Brexit and Donald Trump.
The notion of a sole surviving superpower has also fared poorly. Power is the ability to get (or take) what you want. By this standard, China and Russia rank as important powers. Indeed, the very term “superpower” may be misleading or obsolete. The United States cannot get everything it wants simply by dispatching troops to hot spots.
Finally, the nuclear consensus is fraying. North Korea has atomic weapons; Iran may someday get them. The more countries that have nuclear arms, the more likely that someone will make a catastrophic miscalculation.
After World War II, the United States stumbled upon a global strategy. It would protect its allies militarily while hoping that peace would promote prosperous, stable and democratic societies. Communism’s psychological and political appeal would be rejected. Despite many setbacks, the strategy generally succeeded. Europe and Japan rebuilt; the Soviet Union failed; communism was discredited.
The international order is now in a state of flux for many reasons. Starting with China and Russia, many countries resent the United States’ leadership role. Many Americans have also tired of it. New technologies (notably, e-commerce, cyberwarfare) are further redistributing power and influence.
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