It's interesting to see the near total absence of angry resentment as Americans settle in to the idea that the United States' global supremacy is over.
The screeching chants of "USA, USA, USA" and "We're Number One, We're Number One" seem to have had their last gasp at Sarah Palin rallies this fall.
From what I've been reading in the American media, it seems that most US citizens might actually welcome stepping out of the constant spotlight, even if that is for good. And why not? They've seen their country's treasure, even its promise for future generations, squandered on foreign wars which have failed to produce any winners, any victories. They have watched their jobs disappear and working and middle-class incomes stagnate even as those at the very top, who have alone reaped great rewards are now exposed as having sabotaged their nation's economy out of sheer greed.
The word is definitely and clearly getting out that America's unipolar world is over. From the Chicago Tribune:
"There is no return to the time when the United States was the 'indispensable power,' " said Stewart Patrick, a former State Department official at the Council on Foreign Relations. "The world has moved on."
A decade ago, the United States might have been able to bring enough economic pressure on its own to force an end to Iran's disputed nuclear program, said Nikolas Gvosdev, professor of national security studies at the U.S. Naval War College.
But Iran by now has built economic ties to China and India, among others, so the United States has to assemble a much larger group if it hopes to force Tehran's hand.
"Ten years ago, the U.S. was generally the only game in town, and it had the power to close or crack open the door to Iran," Gvosdev said. "Now other countries have more options. … This doesn't mean the United States is weak, but it can't unilaterally impose what it wants."
A report this year by the U.S. National Intelligence Council cites a shift of economic power from the West to the East that is "without precedent," and this will mean that the United States by 2025 will "remain the single most powerful country but will be less dominant."
In every corner of the world, regional blocs are becoming established. No longer is the United States necessarily a welcome presence either. Even the South Americans, so long under the boot of the Monroe Doctrine, are coalescing into economic and defence alliances that exclude Washington.
American power, economic and military, will remain great but the United States is going to have to find better ways of using it. The Bull in the China Shop days are over. Ostracism is also a form of unilateralism, something that the neo-cons stupidly never grasped.
Canada needs to come to grips with this shifting reality because the consequences of what lies ahead for America and how that will bear on our country are far from predictable and only a fool would assume they'll be to our liking, much less benign. The bottom line is that it's going to take somebody a lot less star-struck with all things American than Stephen Harper to chart the course for Canada.