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"Think again: America's image".


By Peter Katzenstein & Jeffrey Legro, APSA Task Force on U.S. Standing in World Affairs

Reviewed by Henry E. Mattox, Contributing Editor

Writing in Foreign Policy, Professors Katzenstein, Cornell University, and Legro, University of Virginia, summarize "U.S. Standing in the World: Causes, Consequences, and the Future," a recent report by twenty prominent academics. That group, which they chaired, conducted a yearlong assessment of the fall--and to some extent recent recovery--of the United States' worldwide prestige since 9/11. They focus not on the specifics of percentage declines and gains, but rather on an overview of these developments. There is no doubt, they hold, that for a number of reasons the United States' world standing bottomed out in 2007 and that a degree of recovery has begun under the Obama Administration.

In this article, Katzenstein and Legro organize their summary of the report under the following headings, whose implications they often challenge:

"'Standing' is too vague a term to measure"

"Opposition to the U. S. is based mainly on that nation's outsized power"

"The U. S. model is losing out to competitors"

"Partnership stops at the water's edge

"Standing does not matter"

As might be expected from a group of learned academicians, they finish by calling for better data and more analysis on the subject.

Of the report's interesting insights, the discussion of the importance of the U.S. image abroad perhaps holds the most immediate importance. The authors find, with no reservations, that America's standing around the world does matter. Similar declines have taken place in the past, as for example during the Vietnam War, but were basically overcome, to the clear advantage of the nation. The authors hold that concepts of standing--reputation--remain important to assessments of credibility and esteem.

The authors thus make a case for solving the problems that arose during much of the past decade. Citing the notion that President Obama has done away with them completely, they remark, "If only it were true."
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Author:Mattox, Henry E.
Publication:American Diplomacy
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 14, 2009
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