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The Realist Prism: U.S. Power and Its Discontents

Friday, July 6, 2012

There are two simultaneous and contradictory trends occurring right now in the international system. The first is the diffusion of power, as reflected by the displacement of the old Group of Seven, which at its founding in the 1970s comprised the bulk of the world’s productive capacity, by the Group of 20, where there is no longer one dominant power capable of driving the global agenda. The second is the reality that the United States still far outstrips any other one state or group of states in terms of capabilities, ranging from the power of its currency to its ability to project military force to any corner of the globe.

The result has been a growing “trust deficit” between the United States and several of the rising and resurgent powers, such as Russia and China, which in turn has had an impact on the latter states’ willingness to work with Washington to address major international challenges, such as in Syria and Iran. ...

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