It is very worrying for the world that American policy makers should be capable of making such outrageous errors, scoring own-goals, as the decision to play poker against China over the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and losing so spectacularly and humiliatingly.
There is today, I think, little disagreement that the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was the US’ most monumental foreign policy error since the Vietnam War. Until then during the previous four decades on balance the US could be described as a benign hegemon. With the collapse in the early 1990s of the Soviet Union as a military threat and Japan as an economic threat, the US emerged as the global uncontested hyper-power. Then with the illegal and ill-considered invasion of Iraq George W Bush blew it. In the last dozen years it has been pretty much downhill for both American power and American prestige.
The US, according to many, is in decline. That, however, does not mean that it is about to be replaced. As Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote almost twenty years ago (1997): ““No state is likely to match the US in the four key dimensions of power – military, economic, technological, and cultural – that confer global political clout.” It was true then, it remains true now. The US since Iraq may have lost a good deal of credibility in its hard power clout, but, as Professor Joe Nye repeatedly reminds us: it remains supreme in soft power; hence “the American century will survive the rise of China”.
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