Is the American Century Over?
Book, Polity Press
Author: Joseph S. Nye, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security
For more than a century, the United States has been the world's most powerful state. Now some analysts predict that China will soon take its place. Does this mean that we are living in a post-American world? Will China's rapid rise spark a new Cold War between the two titans?
In this compelling essay, world renowned foreign policy analyst, Joseph Nye, explains why the American century is far from over and what the US must do to retain its lead in an era of increasingly diffuse power politics. America's superpower status may well be tempered by its own domestic problems and China's economic boom, he argues, but its military, economic and soft power capabilities will continue to outstrip those of its closest rivals for decades to come.
"With his usual clarity and insight, Joe Nye gives us a fascinating analysis of the complexities of power, exploring hard and soft power, state and non-state actors, and how to retain leadership once domination is over. European readers have much to learn from the U.S. experience and its lessons for the evolution of the EU."
—Mario Monti, Prime Minister of Italy (2011–13) and President of Bocconi University
"The future of American power is the great question of our century. No-one is better equipped than Joe Nye to answer it."
—Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, USAF (Ret.), former Presidential National Security Advisor
"This calm, reflective, and thoughtful antidote to alarm about American decline displays Nye's astonishing capacity to engage with the full range of challenges to American leadership."
—Michael Ignatieff, Harvard Kennedy School
"In this timely, compact book, Joe Nye makes a 'powerful' case for the continuation of American primacy through diplomacy and co-operation. This strategy would not be overstretch or retrenchment but instead the application of American Exceptionalism to shrewd power."
—Robert B. Zoellick, former President of the World Bank Group, US Trade Representative and US Deputy Secretary of State
"The irreversibility of American decline is no longer a given. Joe Nye's compelling analysis shows that the future of the international order, and the respective roles of the US and China within it, will be shaped by a range of core domestic and foreign policy choices, rather than by some overwhelming, determinist, historical force that has somehow already decided the "natural" dimensions, depth and duration of American power. The history of nations, as Joe Nye rightly asserts, is a more dynamic process than that."
—Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia
"Joe Nye is always worth reading - objective without being aloof, insightful without lecturing. Our disordered world needs answers to the challenges posed here."
—David Miliband, UK Foreign Secretary 2007-2010
"Nye's masterful analysis shows the defenders of America's continued primacy how to make their most credible case while forcing the declinists to engage with its arguments, and even rethink their assumptions."
—Amitav Acharya, American University and author of The End of American World Order
"In this tour de force Joe Nye proves that smart books about big ideas are best served in small packages: and if you are looking for one volume to read on a topic about which so much nonsense has been written since the disaster that was the Bush administration, this is the one to go for. Balanced, accessible, informed - but above all, wise - Nye demonstrates once more why he continues to influence the way we all think about the world."
—Michael Cox, LSE IDEAS
"Joe Nye's clear-eyed analysis makes a very compelling case that the 'American century' is far from over, even though with a less preponderant America and a more complex world, its next chapter will look different. It’s not the sexiest argument. But utterly convincing."
—Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference and former German Ambassador to the United States
"Joe Nye's clear eyed assessments of America's place in the world have set the terms of the debate for more than a quarter century. This important book updates Nye's thinking and is an immensely valuable corrective to the pessimism and the complacency that are all too common in debates about America's future."
—Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard University
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Document Length: 152 pp.