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A nation must think before it acts.
With the implosion of the Soviet Union, a second Pax Americana should have dawned across the Pacific with a brilliance unrivaled since the closing days of World War II. America’s economic, military, and ideological rival for the hearts and minds of Asia had utterly collapsed, and the U.S. system of bilateral alliances reigned supreme. A coalition of moderate, democratic, market-oriented nations had triumphed over a statist, authoritarian system burdened by imperial overstretch and pressured by resolute Western policies. Moreover, the American economy, in sheer size and adaptability, outperformed those of its strategic allies. In the late 1980s, America was creating jobs and increasing productivity and competitiveness while Europe lagged behind on both counts, and Japan fell into a hubris-shattering, post-bubble retraction. By all measures, the United States, leader of the triumphant Free World, should have enjoyed a renewed dominance, not only in day-to-day political affairs, but as a model for societies throughout the world.