WE ARE still slow to recognize how revolutionary the changes sweeping the globe are. The forces unleashed by globalization are as important to determining the shape of the coming age as industrialization was two hundred years ago.
Will the United States remain the "indispensable nation" in global affairs under these new conditions? It depends on what you mean by the term.
There is one form of American indispensability that, thus far, no other power or bloc has demonstrated-not the Chinese, not the Europeans-the ability to mobilize the world community to undertake the great projects of the day. We, the United States, act as the catalyst. Yes, it is true that India can summon some of the other members of the developing world under its banner, and the Europeans have shown that it is possible for the nations of that continent to work together in support of shared goals. But at the end of the day, no other country can rally nations from different parts of the world and from both the developed and developing world to join truly multinational coalitions with a global reach.
But we are not indispensable in the sense that those of us in Washington are the only ones who know what needs to be done for the good of the entire human race, and that the rest of the world can either join us or be against us. And we have discovered over the last decade that it is increasingly difficult for us to build together any meaningful sort of coalition acting on that belief. It doesn't provide leadership and only engenders resistance.