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Managing Elegant Decline

1 February 2011

The advent of a multipolar world is characterized above all by a relative decline of the United States. While the United States has enjoyed economic, military and political prominence throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the Pacific Rim and the Indian Ocean have become both the world’s engines of economic growth and key centers of political power. Yet the Rise of the Rest’s flipside is the relative decline of those powers that were previously in the driving seat, most notably the United States. For Europe, when it comes to addressing foreign policy challenges in a multipolar world, rather than dealing with the rise of China, the main challenge is managing an elegant decline of the United States. With elegant decline, we mean the smooth transition of a world where the United States is the primary rule-setter and de facto global sheriff, to one where it has to share this position with others in a complex set of new relations.