America’s changing role in the world, from asserting industrial and cultural dominance to isolationist positions, was the topic of the first Great Decisions program of 2018. Hosted by the World Affairs Council of St. Louis in partnership with University of Missouri – St. Louis International Studies and Programs, the series takes a foreign policy topic each week and showcases a film on the topic, an expert’s overview and allows audience questions.
This week’s speaker and host was J. Martin Rochester, Ph.D., distinguished teaching professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Among his observations: “Power isn’t what it used to be.” In his view, the ability of the U.S. to shape world policies, from human rights, to environmental issues, to voting rights and trade, has diminished.
“Power isn’t what it used to be.”
He likens the new environment to the plight of Gulliver, referencing his book, Gulliver’s Travails, in which a giant is subdued by smaller, seemingly weaker people. The rise of rogue states and competing global factions makes it harder to exert influence, even as America exhibits a strong trend of isolationism. Dr. Rochester weighed whether other countries can fill the vacuum and whether the U.S. will reassert itself in the shifting balance of nations.