Capacity and Resolve

Foreign Assessments of U.S. Power

The last decade has seen the United States involved in two wars, an ongoing worldwide struggle against terrorism, and more recently a severe economic recession. This period has exposed two great structural challenges facing the United States. First, in a globalized world, vectors of prosperity quickly become vectors of insecurity. And second, the center of gravity in world affairs is shifting to Asia. During the past two years particularly, we have heard a steady chorus predicting, and in some places celebrating, America’s decline, and this chorus has begun to shape some people’s perceptions at home and abroad. At the time of this writing, the United States has weathered the near-term dangers of the economic crisis, but the long-term prognosis for America’s fiscal health and subsequently our forward presence around the world remains in some question. The feeling is that, if we cannot get our own house in order, we have no business leading on the world stage.

How the rest of the world sees the continuing capacity and relevance of U.S. leadership is at the heart of this volume. The specific question under investigation is how certain pivotal countries view U.S. power at this moment in time. Debates about U.S. primacy and decline tend to be episodic and somewhat academic in nature. And yet, the decisions our allies and adversaries make depend in part on their assessments of the trajectory of American power. Foreign assessments have real-world implications for U.S. policy. In this volume, CSIS experts analyze the views of U.S. power from 10 different strategically important countries/regions: China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, India, the Persian Gulf, Israel, Turkey, Germany, and Russia.

Jon Alterman, Ernest Bower, Victor Cha, Craig Cohen, Heather Conley, Stephen Flanagan, Bonnie Glaser, Michael Green, John Hamre, Andrew Kuchins, Haim Malka, and Teresita Schaffer