Foreign Policy Magazine

What Would America Do?

The days of other countries looking to the United States for leadership are coming to an end.

“HOW WILL AMERICA HELP FIX THIS?” During our time in the Obama administration, this was a common refrain, one we heard over and over from our foreign counterparts about global problems. They saw the United States as the leader on a broad range of issues—from combating terrorism to combating climate change—not just because of its tremendous economic and military strength (though that certainly helped). They believed in American “soft power”—the ability to set the agenda, bring others to the table, draw up a game plan, and take the lead in implementing that plan. In a world of unrelenting challenges, this expectation can be exhausting, and it can often seem like a

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