MANY FOREIGN POLICY experts seem to believe that retaining American primacy is largely a matter of will -- of how America chooses to exert its power abroad. Even President Obama, more often accused of being a prophet of decline than a booster of America's future, recently asserted that the United States "has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world." The question, he continued, is "not whether America will lead, but how we will lead.
But . . .
That, in turn, will require acknowledging the uncomfortable truth that global power and wealth are shifting at an unprecedented pace, with profound implications. Moreover, many of the challenges America faces are exacerbated by vulnerabilities that are largely self-created, chief among them fiscal policy. Much more quickly and comprehensively than is understood, those vulnerabilities are reducing America's freedom of action and its ability to influence other.
(Elbridge Colby and dPaul Lettow, "Have We Hit Peak America?", Foreign Policy, July/August 2014)