Posted by: Tony Carson | 24 November, 2009

US: going it alone — without choice

America no longer wants to be the sole superpower, writes Anne Applebaum in her column Superpower without a partner. The American president no longer wants to be the leader of a sole superpower. Nobody else wants America to be the sole superpower and in fact America cannot even afford to be the sole superpower. Yet America has no obvious partner with which to share its superpowerdom, and if America were to cease being a superpower, nothing and no one would take its place.

This does mean that the Obama administration has a problem, however: Having come to office promising to work with allies, it may soon discover that there are no allies with which to work. Europe is still our best hope, because Europeans share most of our values. But organizing sanctions with a divided Europe — never mind a military operation — will continue to be a major chore. China, meanwhile, is acquiring vast foreign interests, trading in Africa and South America as well as Asia, along with a vast army to match. But China appears uninterested in joining an international campaign against terrorism, nuclear proliferation or anything else.

Global military and security thus look set to remain in the hands of the United States, whether the United States wants it or not. Halfway through his presidency, George W. Bush found he had to drop unilateralism in favor of diplomacy. Now one wonders: At some point in his presidency, will Obama find he has to drop diplomacy in favor of unilateralism, too?

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