Fred Kaplan of Slate asks and answers the question that McCain will keep posing to the American people for the next five months: “Is Barack Obama too naive to be president?” Kaplan’s answer:
No matter who is elected this November, the next president will have to take extraordinary steps to translate this global reach into power and influence—to restore American leadership. One of the main challenges in this effort will be to prove to others that this leadership is desirable.
The new reality is that to a degree we haven’t seen in our lifetimes, the United States is a normal country—a very powerful country, but normal nonetheless: not a superpower. A presidential visit, in this light, is not such a big deal. Or, to the extent that some countries might still regard it as a visitation from on high, it may be just the jolt to get things moving.
Either way, not only was Obama’s remark not naive; it reflected a more instinctive understanding of the post-Cold War world than either of his opponents seem to possess.
This does seem to be the growing consensus in the world of those who study foreign policy – as Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations suggests we are in an age of nonpolarity and Fareed Zakaria writes that we are now entering a Post-American world. All of these figures believe that America still has the power – and the responsibility – to be the first among equals. But we are no longer the single hyperpower dominating the globe or one of two dueling powers competing for every corner of it. Instead, we are one of many – a nation with unique gifts and great responsibility.
Kind of like Spider-man.