terça-feira, 24 de janeiro de 2006

America's benevolent global hegemony

Still the Colossus, por Robert Kagan.

The striking thing about the present international situation is the degree to which America remains what Bill Clinton once called "the indispensable nation." Despite global opinion polls registering broad hostility to George W. Bush's United States, the behavior of governments and political leaders suggests America's position in the world is not all that different from what it was before Sept. 11 and the Iraq war.


It remains the case, too, that in many crises and potential crises around the world, local actors and traditional allies still look primarily to Washington for solutions, not to Beijing, Moscow or even Brussels. The United States is the key player

in the Taiwan Strait. It would be the chief intermediary between India and Pakistan in any crisis. As for Iran, everyone on both sides of the Atlantic knows that, for all the efforts of British, French and German negotiators, any diplomatic or military resolution will ultimately depend on Washington.

Even in the Middle East, where hostility to the United States is highest, American influence remains remarkably high. Most still regard the United States as the indispensable player in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Bush administration's push for democracy, though erratic and inconsistent, has unmistakably affected the course of events in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon -- never mind Iraq. Contrary to predictions at the time of the Iraq war, Arab hostility has not made it impossible for both leaders and their political opponents to cooperate with the United States.

This does not mean the United States has not suffered a relative decline in that intangible but important commodity: legitimacy. A combination of shifting geopolitical realities, difficult circumstances and some inept policy has certainly damaged America's standing in the world. Yet, despite everything, the American position in the world has not deteriorated as much as people think. America still "stands alone as the world's indispensable nation," as Clinton so humbly put it in 1997. It can resume an effective leadership role in the world in fairly short order, even during the present administration and certainly after the 2008 election, regardless of which party wins. That is a good thing, because given the growing dangers in the world, the intelligent and effective exercise of America's benevolent global hegemony is as important as ever.

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