Is America declining as a superpower? The 9/11 decade was a rollercoaster for America and for perceptions of the U.S. around the world. Everyone can remember the sympathy, outreach, and support that America received in the months after 9/11. I recall getting emails from friends and colleagues in Europe, expressing concern, worry and support.
This global outpouring of positive emotions waned quickly as what became known as the Bush Doctrine unfolded and America took unilateral and preventive military actions. The Pew Global Attitudes Project detected a decline in positive opinions about the U.S. as early as 2002, notes Richard Wike, associate director of this Pew project, in an essay yesterday. Negative opinions reversed with the election of Barack Obama, and the “Obama Bump” lasted for some time. This upswing in public opinion about America did not occur, Wike says, in predominately Muslim countries.
Then economics trumped all else and shifted global focus as the U.S. began to look more like a falling star. “Early in the post-Sept. 11 era,” writes Wike, “the projection of American military strength led to pervasive fears of an unleashed, and unchecked, hyperpower. More recently, however, the global financial crisis has turned the spotlight to America’s declining economic prowess.Once the fearsome colossus, many now see the financially strapped U.S. as a great power in decline.” Increasingly, people around the world see China as the rising superpower that will one day supplant the US for the top position.
Do you see the U.S.’s superpower status waning as this decade ends?
What powers do you see emerging in the years ahead?
Could the U.S. have done anything differently over the past 10 years?
Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.