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The World’s Stake in American Democracy

A US that is distracted and divided at home would lack the capacity and the consensus to exercise leadership on global challenges such as climate change. Without American resources and leadership, the already large gap between these global challenges and global responses would almost certainly grow.

NEW YORK – For more than three-quarters of a century, the United States has played an outsized, constructive role in the world. To be sure, there have been major errors, including the Vietnam War and the 2003 Iraq War, but the US got it right far more often than not.

The results speak for themselves. US entry into World War II proved decisive. In part because of American urging, the colonial era came to a rapid if not always peaceful end. The creation of a postwar order of alliances helped to ensure the Cold War stayed cold and ended on terms consistent with Western interests and values. A range of institutions and policies provided the foundation for unprecedented global economic growth and extension of lifespans.

But the ability of the US to continue to play a large and influential global role is increasingly uncertain. Some reasons have nothing to do with the US but affect its position all the same.