In a private milestone so quiet that even I missed it, last month marked my 10th anniversary overseeing WPR’s editorial content. A lot has changed since I first took the helm here. WPR’s team has grown, and our coverage of politics around the world has expanded and sharpened. Other things have remained the same, like our commitment to engaging with topics and trends, whether front-page news or off-the-radar developments, that are driving outcomes in countries big and small, powerful and less consequential.
The world, too, has similarly changed in significant ways, but remained the same in others. Some of the burning issues of the day back in 2008 now seem distant. Others seem more relevant. Milestones are by nature arbitrary, but looking back, four major themes of change and continuity stand out.
America’s Decline. America is weaker than it was in 2008. This comes as no surprise. Even back then it was clear that the apex of American power was in the past, with the 2003 invasion of Iraq representing the culmination but also the end of America’s unipolar moment. That decline continued under Barack Obama and has arguably accelerated under Donald Trump. America’s most powerful rivals, Russia and China, have grown more assertive not only in their own backyards, but also in regions like the Middle East and Latin America where the U.S. historically enjoyed a privileged position. Meanwhile, America’s ties with its closest allies and partners have frayed due to Trump’s ill-advised trade wars and his inability to conceal his hostility to all things multilateral. As a result, America’s ability to shape global outcomes is constrained more than at any time since the end of the Cold War.