For many years, it seems that the United States has been the country that everyone loves to hate. Many around the world beg for American assistance and support but also blast the U.S. for all its greatness and power. The U.S. is an easy target when it does not handle things the way everyone else in the world thinks they should be handled. No one will ever always be pleased.

This is typical in any setting. However, in global politics, the stakes are quite high. The United States has occupied a peculiar space in the 30 years since the end of the Cold War. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, there hasn’t been another global power or true rival to the United States. American hegemony has been unquestioned for much of that time.

Even now, as we start to see a shift in the global balance of power, there is no real challenge to the U.S. as a global hegemon. However, that also makes the U.S. everyone’s target. It’s no coincidence that since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Islamic jihadist attacks on the West have increased. The timing and correlation of those events are not insignificant.

Japanese surrender ceremony
Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Japanese Government, on board USS Missouri, 2 September 1945. Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland, U.S. Army, watches from the opposite side of the table. Foreign Ministry representative Toshikazu Kase is assisting Mr. Shigemitsu. (Army Signal Corps Collection/U.S. National Archives)

A lot of American power and influence during the Cold War and through today is still a result of World War II. Once the U.S. emerged as the predominant influencer and victor of the war on two global fronts, its power and influence became unquestionable.

It was American leadership that created this power and influence. Tough men, who rose from tough times, led the country to victory. Today, we have soft men in charge, created in soft times, and we are on an uneasy footing. Today, American power and influence are questioned. All this contributes to a decline in America’s influence and ability to maintain the status quo.

American engagement, presence, and leadership in the international community are necessary for both stability at home and abroad.


It’s Lonely at the Top

Competition creates greatness, innovation, and ingenuity. While the U.S. emerged as a global power and a country to be taken seriously after World War I, arguably, if WWII hadn’t happened American power would not have been what it has been in the last 80 years. The American industrial and technological powerhouse would possibly have not been realized absent the existential crisis presented by Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. World War II catapulted the U.S. into action and sparked political, economic, and scientific breakthroughs.