It’s been a year of the Biden administration. And for many around the world, the question is simple: Can America still lead like it used to? Many who recall the era after the fall of the Berlin Wall remember Washington as both powerful and ascendant. The world’s only superpower boasted a level of military and economic supremacy seldom seen in the modern day. And that juggernaut was coupled with a clear and abundant desire to influence the global order. Things, in many ways, have changed. With China’s competitive rise, a revanchist Russia exercising greater influence in eastern Europe, and American retrenchment in places like Afghanistan and Syria, the role of U.S. leadership is less clear. President Biden, following his predecessor's “America First” policy, promised to “restore the soul of America.” Many took that to mean Washington was looking to re-cement its role as the pre-eminent global leader. But some say that ship has sailed, and question whether the tables are decidedly turning. In light of this emerging divide, we debate this question: Is America retreating from global leadership?
- The United States has made a series of foreign policy blunders that are impossible to overlook. Notably, the messy withdrawal from Afghanistan built up by decades of poor policy choices has left allies looking elsewhere for security.
- The rise of China and other powerful actors on the global stage diminishes America's preeminence in international relations. This has only been exacerbated by the pandemic and a global recession; America's inability to resist or recover from the effects has negatively affected how it is viewed across the world.
- The weakening of democracy at home has other countries turning elsewhere for examples of leadership.
- Despite notable examples that get significant media attention, the fundamentals of America's position as a global leader have not changed. The United States is still an economic, military, and diplomatic powerhouse.
- Simply because other countries such as China and Russia are gaining influence and performing well economically does not mean the United States has lost its influence on the international stage. As a prominent example of democracy, the United States has maintained its position as a beacon of innovation and economic excellence.
- Though the United States may have 'led' the charge of democratic states in foreign policy interventions, the world is shifting in what it considers a global leader to be. The United States is moving with this shift toward securing alliances and partnerships that are a hallmark of true leadership.