Pundits across the political spectrum are gradually coming around to an argument that Via Meadia has been making for some time: The United States is not in decline. Over at Foreign Policy, two scholars from the Brookings Institution coin a new term, the GUTS, for four states that, contrary to public perception, are actually increasing their international influence: Germany, the United States, Turkey and South Korea.
U.S. influence in Asia has risen at a rapid clip since 2008, driven largely by regional anxiety about Chinese assertiveness. . . . On national security, the U.S. position is also stronger than it has been in many years. . . . The Pentagon has been at the forefront of the drone and robotics revolution, which may give it an edge in 21st-century conflicts. . . .Significant challenges lie ahead, but it is worth noting that the United States has significantly outperformed the eurozone and has better prospects for growth than most other Western states. It remains a hub of innovation: Just consider the rise of social media and the technology-driven exploration for shale gas. Over the long term, the fiscal challenges confronting the United States must be weighed against the very real—and very underestimated—internal strains on the Chinese and Indian economies.
The euro crisis is Germany’s greatest challenge but, ironically, it has also made Germany the continent’s preeminent diplomatic and geoeconomic power: For better or worse, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has won argument after argument about the future direction of the EU, often despite deep reservations from other member states.
On South Korea:
South Korea’s strong economic performance since the financial crisis led some analysts to argue it should be added to the BRICs, but as one of America’s oldest and most reliable allies, it belongs in the West’s column. It has become a powerhouse of high-end manufacturing and is on course to become richer than Japan in per capita terms within the next five years.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has transformed Turkey into a regional powerhouse—its economy has more than tripled under his watch, registering growth rates on par with China. After years of eschewing its Muslim identity, Turkey is emerging as a model, albeit an imperfect one, for Islamic democrats in the Arab world. Turkish assistance is indispensable in dealing with the Syrian crisis, and its diplomats play a pivotal role in mediating international negotiations with Iran.
Significant challenges lie ahead for all four of these nations, but each is uniquely poised to tackle them and emerge stronger than their less-prepared peers. India and China, long the darlings of investors and the “rise-of-the-rest” crowd, have much more significant internal problems than the GUTS. Brazil has ridden out the economic crisis but still struggles to enact reforms that will enable it to be a world power full-time. And Russia? Persistent internal problems severely limit its ability to achieve its ambitious goals.