Re-Imagining And Rebuilding US Leadership

After the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan there is a growing desire among the US electorate to withdraw from the world stage. And while a majority of Americans presently support the notion of expanding trade, as details of proposed trade pacts with Asia and Europe emerge, divisions likely will develop.

But the US cannot simply step back from its historic leadership role says William C. Martel in the third part of a series he has written on redefining and re-imagining American foreign policy. The path to achieving this goal begins with a “grand strategy” that balances a need to rebuild the “national foundations of power” and to rebuild “alliances and partners to address the world’s greatest challenges.”

America Needs To Set Balanced, Bipartisan Priorities
A new report by the Council of Foreign Relations also warns against allowing US leadership to wane. The new report, entitled “Setting Priorities for American Leadership,” asserts that despite desires to pull back members of both parties need to set priorities that include targeting resources more strategically based on three core principles: (1) a foundation of American strength, (2) a proactive global leadership role, and (3) a values-based foreign policy that advances democracy and human rights.

Rebuilding At Home
Martel says the first step is to address infrastructure needs, creating a national broadband grid that resembles the national telephone grid, and bolstering domestic power structures.

Only then, he argues, the US pursue a grand strategy outside its borders. Martel acknowledges many Americans express a dangerous and growing desire to withdrawal from a strong leadership role, but he argues that would be a dangerous path if followed.

“A domestically oriented U.S. would signal to the world that Washington is less interested in foreign policy, which Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, and Pyongyang likely would interpret as an invitation to take aggressive action and expand their reach,” Martel suggests.

Views Of US Leadership On The Decline, Poll Finds
A new poll conducted by Gallup finds the image of US leadership on the decline. The survey reports that the median approval of U.S. leadership across 130 countries has fallen from 49 percent in 2009 to 41 percent in 2012.

In Africa, the one region where the US generates positive feelings, there also has been a diminishing of America’s image in the last year, while Europe continues to hold the worst impression of the US, according to a full report by the Meridian International Center.

 

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