We’re not in decline, we’re just becoming more … “normal”

This is not a way to run a country, and especially not the American nation that, despite its flaws, is the world’s mainstay. This is worrying for its neighbors, its many friends and allies; it is worrying for even those states, like India and Brazil, that are going to assume a larger role in world affairs in the years to come. We should all be careful to wish away a reasonably benign American hegemony; we might regret its going.

But the ebb and tides of history will take away that hegemony, as surely as autumn replaces the high summer months with fruit rather than flower. America’s global position is at present strong, serious, and very large. But it is still, frankly, abnormal. It will come down a ratchet or two more.

It will return from being an oversized world power to being a big nation, but one which needs to be listened to, and one which, for the next stretch, is the only country that can supply powerful heft to places in trouble. It will still be really important, but less so than it was. That isn’t a bad thing. It will be more normal.