Understanding America’s Declining Global Influence


Why is America’s global influence in decline? And what can be done to get it back? In a recent study, the RAND Corporation’s James Dobbins, Gabrielle Tarini, and Ali Wyne, trace the former unipolar power’s struggles to several factors, but point chiefly to “the classic cycle of hubris followed by nemesis.” A sequence of “success, overconfidence, overstretch, failure, and retreat,” they write, explains how “domestic politics, foreign policy, and external events interacted to diminish American influence.” Chris, Melanie, and Zack appreciated the effort, but had some questions. The study’s attempt to score American successes and failures dating back to 1945 falls flat, but the global public’s reactions to these efforts isn’t in dispute: the United States isn’t trusted to solve the world’s problems, and many worry that it is making things worse. What can be done to reinvigorate Americans’ global engagement, and win back the trust of allies and partners? And who will take the lead in getting us back on track? Zack praises FBI director Chris Wray for doing his job, and Chris and Melanie give shout outs to acts of human decency.