Ball, George W.
December 1980
Foreign Affairs;1980 Special Issue, Vol. 59 Issue 3
To some extent one heard overtones of Schadenfreude. America had been top dog for a long time and American people had not always worn their epaulets of authority with grace and dignity. Still, one could not shrug off such pervasive apprehension merely as the sour fruit of jealousy. After all, the friends were merely repeating worrisome questions about their capacity for leadership that they had themselves first uttered. The U.S. military theologians were asserting that they faced a dangerous period when their second-strike strategic nuclear capability might be vulnerable. U.S. generals were insisting that they lacked the conventional power to halt a Soviet encroachment in such a critical area as the Persian Gulf. Meanwhile, they were documenting those dire assertions by symbols of their incompetence. It is the major thesis of this article that the most notable development of 1980 was the decline of America's standing and authority with its friends and allies and indeed with other non-communist nations.


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