The United States plays multiple roles in the world trading and economic system. It is often a leader, sometimes a collegial member, and sometimes a self-interested player in a competitive world economy.
The role of the United States in international affairs plays different roles, depending on the countries with which the US makes transactions with, and depending on the situation and objectives of such transactions. There are three main roles that the US plays: a leader, a collegial member and a self-interested player.
The United States as a Global Leader
As a leader, the United States provides guidance and, oftentimes, direction to other countries in what these other countries should do in various aspects of their societies, including peace and order, politics and economics.
A manifestation of the leadership of the United States is its technologies and legislation. For example, in technologies, the United States is a leader in engineering and the design. In legislation, the laws of the United States are often copied or adapted by other countries in the developing world.
Another manifestation of the leadership of the United States had been in the world economy. The basis of this leadership role is the economic influence of the country over other countries. This leadership role is important because it allows the United States to push forth for the adoption of American principles and interests in international affairs, not just for the benefit of the US but also for the benefit of other countries. For instance, these principles include the respect and protection for human rights and animal rights, as well as the emphasis on peace and order.
However, the recent recession has led to the economic decline of the United States, such that the country is now experiencing difficulties in sustaining its economic leadership role. Thus, even though the United States has been a leader, the recent economic recession has reduced the degree at which this leadership is exercised.
The United States as a Collegial Member
As a collegial member, the United States plays a collaborative role in international affairs. This means that the US communicates with other countries, especially the countries of the developed world, in order to develop and implement solutions to world problems, such as security problems like terrorism, as well as environmental problems and economic or fiscal problems like the ones that many countries have been experiencing because of the most recent recession. This role is important because it helps ensure stability of many countries around the world. For example, the US has been helping other countries develop their energy industries in order for these countries to become more stable and in order for the US to have stability in its fuel sources.
The United States as a Self-interested Player
As a self-interested player, the US advocates its own principles, frequently criticized for selfish reasons, such as the advocacy for US homeland security even when the rights of foreign nationals are violated. This role is important because it helps ensure the sovereignty and stability of the US itself.
United States Global Leadership Role: Implications
The United States should not use its leadership role to its own advantage when it comes to fuel security or energy security, as the resulting situation could be conflict with other on fuel sources. The U.S. should be careful to help craft balanced rules and help developing countries, considering these other countries need to develop in order to minimize their potential negative impact on the security of the US. The US should not just be nice, but should be balanced in its approach to international affairs, ensuring the stability of the US and the rest of the world.
- Clark, I. (2011). China and the United States: a succession of hegemonies? International Affairs, 87(1), 13-28.
- Norrlof, C. (2010). America’s Global Advantage: U.S. Hegemony and International Cooperation. Cambridge University Press, 2010.
- Wallerstein, I. (2013). The decline of American power: The US in a chaotic world. The New Press.