The National Interest asked 25 world experts what the purpose of American power is. Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, responds here:
Extremists on the left and right have always had their say, but there was usually enough strength in the center to put together viable policies at critical junctures. Today’s “debates” flow almost exclusively from extremist ideology, uncompromising politics and faint comprehension of the meaning of strategy.
My advice is merely modesty and common sense. First, the United States is the only nation capable of world leadership, and most others actually want Washington to lead. Second, to lead, our presidents must have real strategies that make sense and take the interests of others into account. Third, goals have to be limited to accord with reduced power and international complexities.