Even more transformative, the United States is experiencing an energy revolution that the McKinsey Global Institute estimates could add as much as 4 percent to annual GDP and create up to 1.7 million new jobs by 2020. America is poised to overtake Russia as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, and there are signs that low-cost and abundant energy is driving a revival of the U.S. manufacturing industry. Although the United States will have an enduring interest in stable global energy prices, it will no longer rely on direct and uncertain access to Middle Eastern oil, in sharp contrast to energy-starved countries in Asia.
In terms of hard power, the U.S. military is at the forefront of next-generation technologies, including unmanned systems, robotics and lasers. Even more superior than its hardware is its software: the command and control systems to conduct highly advanced joint operations and major wars.
The United States also remains the linchpin of the international community. Through hard-nosed diplomacy, economic pressure and the specter of military action, Washington has retained its ability to marshal effective multinational coalitions, bringing down Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi, getting weapons inspectors on the ground in Syria and embarking on serious negotiations to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons program. You can quibble with process and style, but it’s hard to argue that any of these would have happened without the United States.