Those of us who write about foreign policy—or any topic, for that matter—yearn for the day when the president of the United States lauds our work. That is exactly what happened in January to Robert Kagan, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and an adviser to the Romney campaign. Just before delivering the State of the Union address, President Obama told a collection of news anchors that his thinking had been influenced by Kagan's recent cover essay in The New Republic, "Not Fade Away: The Myth of American Decline." It is not often that a president running for reelection praises his chief rival's counselor.
Kagan's article, which draws on his new book, The World America Made, contests the emerging consensus in foreign-policy circles that American primacy is eroding thanks to the shift in global power from the West to the "rising rest." China and other nations are steadily ascending, this view holds, while the United States and its allies are stuck in an economic rut. The long era of Western hegemony seems to be coming to an end.