America as a Superpower: Status Quo or Losing Status?


Throughout the Obama administration, both allies and critics of the president have asked: Is the United States losing its “superpower” status? This question has spurred related questions and concerns, such as: Are rising powers set to challenge the international order? and What is the future of global stability?

Bruce Jones, director of NYU’s Center on International Cooperation, sets out to address these matters, and others, in Still Ours to Lead: America, Rising Powers, and the Tension Between Rivalry and Restraint (Brookings Institution Press).

“What’s become clear to me is that while the rising powers--principally China, India, Brazil, but also Turkey, Indonesia, South Korea, and others--want to increase their influence and protect their interests,” Jones says, “the United States still occupies a central place in their thinking and their strategies. And only the U.S. can help all these players forge an effective international order.”

For over a decade, Jones, who has worked for the United Nations and the World Bank, has had a front-row seat as emerging powers thrust themselves onto the global stage. He’s met with the politicians, diplomats, business leaders, and scholars of these nations as they craft their strategies for rising influence—and with senior American officials as they forge their response.

In Still Ours to Lead, Jones tells a nuanced story of American leadership by examining the tension between the impulse to rival the United States and the incentives for restraint and cooperation among the rising powers. Maintaining the balance between these two forces, he posits, is central to the question of whether we will live in a stable or unstable system in the future.

But Jones sees the current terrain as one that plays to America’s strength—its unmatched ability to pull together broad and disparate coalitions for action. However, to succeed on this reconfigured global stage, the United States will have to adapt its leadership to new realities.

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