“Whatever happens inside the US, its influence will be smaller in the 21st century than it was in the 20th. This is largely because others have learnt so much from it. Even so, the US could retain huge, possibly unrivalled, influence, since its main rivals face even bigger challenges. Yet if the US is to be what it can be, it has to rediscover the pragmatism that long marked its policy making, notably in its responses to the many challenges of the 20th century. No democracy can thrive if its citizens view their own government as their greatest enemy. If Americans choose to make their government fail, the US is sure to do so, too.”
—In a summary of an address by Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator for the Financial Times, to the Carnegie Council in New York, May 10, 2012.
America’s challenges in governance, and economic and social adjustment—unlike those of its principal rival—require renewal, not wholesale transformation.