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Yetiv Commentaries Stir Debate About U.S. Leadership

Steve Yetiv

Steve Yetiv, University Professor of political science at Old Dominion University, has started work on his seventh book, and the public can get an idea of what the new one will be about by reading the two commentaries he has published in the past week in The Christian Science Monitor.

The commentaries, which assess America's global leadership, have stirred brisk debate on the Internet and may reach even more readers than an article he wrote for The Monitor on oil speculation in April 2011. Last year's article made it into Yahoo's most viewed and emailed lists.

On March 6, The Monitor's opinion section featured "Eight Reasons America Is Not in Decline," in which Yetiv provided an outline of his thinking as he wades into this latest book project.

The reasons he lists are because the United States: 1) has the most competitive major economy; 2) has the world's best entrepreneurs and most Fortune 500 companies; 3) remains the world's leading magnet for immigrants; 4) has many trustworthy allies; 5) has weakened adversaries; 6) has vast energy resources; 7) is the leader in the global move toward democracy; and 8) has colleges and universities that top the global rankings.

"That piece was based on some data, but also a hunch that American decline may be exaggerated," he said. "However, as I noted in the piece, much more methodical work needed to be done on this subject, and my book project aims to achieve this goal."

On March 13 came a followup commentary in The Monitor: "Six Reasons to Keep America as No. 1 Superpower."

In it, Yetiv writes that many people around the world believe an American decline would be good for the world. "For them, a diminished America could not arbitrarily throw its weight around, and a multipolar global order would work just fine in preserving global stability. … Well, that sounds nice. But it's probably wrong."

Yetiv believes America, at present, is good for the global order because it 1) protects the free flow of oil from the Persian Gulf; 2) bolsters the global economy; 3) helps keep the Asian balance of power; 4) checks terrorists groups; 5) prevents nuclear proliferation; and 6) brokers peace in the Middle East.

"Don't get me wrong. American foreign policy should be primarily multilateral in a complex, interconnected world," he writes in the March 13 article. "And Washington must accommodate the rise of powers such as China, Brazil and India, and try to see how they can contribute more to global security - especially China, which has the financial wherewithal to do so and should contribute much more than it does."

Yetiv is the author of six books, including "Explaining Foreign Policy," "The Petroleum Triangle" and "The Absence of Grand Strategy." He has won two Choice Outstanding Academic Book awards from the American Library Association.

In January 2012, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia announced that Yetiv was a winner of the Outstanding Faculty Award, the state's top academic award for college and university professors, for "superior accomplishments in teaching, research, and public service."

This article was posted on: March 15, 2012

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