America’s future as a superpower

Courtesy of Real Clear Politics, here’s Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal on America’s re-emerging sense of itself, and of Europe and the United Nations. The piece includes reassuring poll results about how Amercans view the U.N. Henningner concludes as follows:
“For decades, Europeans have regarded their American summer visitors as ill-dressed rubes with little sense of history or the grand, complex world beyond Peoria. In the past two years, Americans have learned a lot about history. Out of that history emerged once again the unique combination of idealism and toughness that brought the U.S. into Iraq, and will keep it there. It would behoove this country’s critics to try harder to understand both impulses. If only out of self-interest.”
Good stuff. I disagree with one point Henninger makes, however. He argues that America inevitably will act as a superpower and that the alternatives are a benign version (exemplified by President Bush) or a truly realpolitik version that is focused mainly on protecting our commercial interests. In my view, one cannot completely discount a third possibility — an unwilling superpower that tends to defer to our “allies” and to international organizations. This is the vision of the dominant strand of one of our two political parties, and it would be unduly triumphalist to assume that this approach cannot prevail for periods of time, or until our demise.

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