Harvard professor Joseph Nye, well known for his explorations of soft power, considers the American prospect in his newly published book, Is the American Century Over? His answer is a carefully constructed "No," which is based partly on the fact that there is no logical successor to convincingly claim dominance over the next century.
Despite monumental world events, foreign policy will not play much if any role in the presidential race in 2012. The American voting public is not very concerned with what is happening in most areas of the world. They are rightly concerned about the state of the American economy and the state of US society as they experience it in their daily lives. For this reason alone, President Obama needs a tougher and clearer economic message. It's not just the economy, stupid; it's how you talk about it that matters in politics. Sadly, I don't expect the Obama White House or his current re-election team to get religion on that front anytime soon.