Who shrank the superpower?

Waving Goodbye to Hegemony (Parag Khanna, The New York Times, 27/1/08)

At best, America’s unipolar moment lasted through the 1990s, but that was also a decade adrift. The post-cold-war “peace dividend” was never converted into a global liberal order under American leadership. So now, rather than bestriding the globe, we are competing — and losing — in a geopolitical marketplace alongside the world’s other superpowers: the European Union and China. This is geopolitics in the 21st century: the new Big Three. Not Russia, an increasingly depopulated expanse run by Gazprom.gov; not an incoherent Islam embroiled in internal wars; and not India, lagging decades behind China in both development and strategic appetite. The Big Three make the rules — their own rules — without any one of them dominating. And the others are left to choose their suitors in this post-American world.


(updated 15/2/08)

Downsizing our dominance (Fred Kaplan, 3/2/08, LA Times)

Our leverage over half the world during the previous half-century had stemmed not just from American muscle but from the existence of a common enemy. Allies often acceded to U.S. interests, even to the detriment of their own national interests, because the looming Russian bear posed a greater menace still. But when the bear died, the alliance's threads loosened. Many of these nations would sometimes continue to follow our lead, but they also felt free to go their own way without so much concern about Washington's preferences.

Marinating in 'Decline' (Bret Stephens, 5/2/05, WSJ.com)