Is America in decline? At roughly the mid-point of Barack Obama’s fi rst term as president this question occupied center stage in serious discussions of American foreign policy and the country’s status in the world. In his muchread article in Foreign Af airs, the infl uential monthly publication of the Council on Foreign Relations, Joseph Nye (2010) answered “yes,” but with qualifi cations. China, he argued, would inevitably surpass the United States as the world’s foremost economic power within another generation or two. But, Nye added, American decline is a relative phenomenon and it is unlikely that any other country will rival the United States’ global infl uence, which depends on more than economic dominance, for quite some time.