Balancing the East, Upgrading the West
The United States' central challenge over the next several decades is to revitalize itself, while promoting a larger West and buttressing a complex balance in the East that can accommodate China's rising global status. A successful U.S. effort to enlarge the West, making it the world's most stable and democratic zone, would seek to combine power with principle. A cooperative larger West -- extending from North America and Europe through Eurasia (by eventually embracing Russia and Turkey), all the way to Japan and South Korea -- would enhance the appeal of the West's core principles for other cultures, thus encouraging the gradual emergence of a universal democratic political culture.
At the same time, the United States should continue to engage cooperatively in the economically dynamic but also potentially conflicted East. If the United States and China can accommodate each other on a broad range of issues, the prospects for stability in Asia will be greatly increased. That is especially likely if the United States can encourage a genuine reconciliation between China and Japan while mitigating the growing rivalry between China and India.
To respond effectively in both the western and eastern parts of Eurasia, the world's central and most critical continent, the United States must play a dual role. It must be the promoter and guarantor of greater and broader unity in the West, and it must be the balancer and conciliator between the major powers in the East. Both roles are essential, and each is needed to reinforce the other. But to have the credibility and the capacity to pursue both successfully, the United States must show the world that it has the will to renovate itself at home. Americans must place greater emphasis on the more subtle dimensions of national power, such as innovation, education, the balance of force and diplomacy, and the quality of political leadership.
A LARGER WEST
This is a premium article
Buy PDFBuy a premium PDF reprint of this article.
SubscribeSubscribe and get premium access to ForeignAffairs.com.