Simon Serfaty

A new World in need of America Publication date : April 3, 2014

Simon Serfaty teaches at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He taught for many years at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, in Washington D.C.

The 20th century saw the rise of the United States as a world power and the collapse of the other great powers, particularly European. The 21st century is already being seen as a post-American world dominated by post-Western powers, particularly Asian. But could such a view be premature? Without minimising the changes now underway, shouldn’t we anticipate the possible resurgence rather than the decline of the United States? Instead of expecting Europe to fail again, shouldn’t we be looking forward to a revival that may bring Europe closer to its institutional ‘goal’? Rather than disappearing, the Western world may well be about to bounce back.
In the 20th century the United States represented hope for peace. After September 11 2001, the U.S. disappointed us. And Barack Obama failed to fulfil the hopes he had raised following his election in November 2008. What should we now fear more: living with, and in the shadow of, the United States or without and needing the U.S.?
These are the issues that Simon Serfaty examines here, as he traces the evolution of the global status of the U.S. since 9/11, wonders if there are limits to multiculturalism, establishes a highly mixed balance sheet of the Obama administration and speculates on the question: what if the United States were to become a world leader again?

• An eminent expert in international affairs offers a reflection on the disorder of the world and on the illusions of the recent past, in an attempt to discern the choices that must be made during the coming years.