On air: Is shared power better than a superpower?


The dynamics of world power appear to be changing. President Obama is about to speak at the UN and he’s going to call for other countries to take more responsibility for tackling the world’s problems.

He wants a new era of engagement where those who’ve criticised America for acting alone obamain the past cannot now stand by and wait for it to solve global problems alone.
Do you echo his call? And has he really got any choice in the reduction of US influence?

In the past few days we’ve talked about the cancelled missile defence shield, about the White House’s struggle to exert pressure on either the Palestinians or the Israelis, and about the lead President Obama is taking on nuclear disarmament. (I was struck yesterday how several guests said that regional factors are more important to nuclear policy than what America does.)

Then we had yesterday comments on climate change from Chinese Premier Hu Jintao. Some (not all though) have compared it with President Obama’s statement on the same subject and argued that the tone and momentum of negotiations on this are no longer being set by the US.

The same argument is being made about the upcoming G20 meeting which will continue to look at the world’s economy. (And let’s not forget that not long ago it was the G8 that was the biggest show in town – another example say some that power is being spread around.)

So do you feel we’re shifting from the dominance of one super power to a world where influence is more evenly shared? And do you welcome that development?

If you do, are you confident those nations with new found influence and wealth are prepared to make the global contributions many have demanded from the United States?

If you don’t, is that because you believe the world has been a safer, fairer and more prosperous while America has been the only superpower.

95 Responses to “On air: Is shared power better than a superpower?”

  1. 1 Daan from the Hague (netherlands)
    September 23, 2009 at 14:33


    I don’t feel we’re shifting from the dominance of one super power to a world where influence is more evenly shared. That the power is shifting from one dominant super power to multiple big players does not autmatically mean that influence is more evenly shared. The influence of big players still dwarfs the influence of smaller powers and the international institutions that were created throughout history with the specific purpose of creating a more even balance of power are still dominated by big players like, The U.S, Russia and China. The ballance is shifting does not automatically mean that the influences of states are more evenly shared.


  2. 2 Dave in Florida
    September 23, 2009 at 14:37

    “… he’s (Obama) going to call for other countries to take more responsibility for tackling the world’s problems.”

    I’ll believe that will happen when I see it!

  3. 3 Justin from Iowa
    September 23, 2009 at 14:47

    Whether you agree with her decisions or not, America has been one of the few countries willing to take responsability for world concerns. I know most Americans are sick of hearing “Someone should do something about this” and then when America tries to do said thing, she gets trounced by the world at large.
    I am all for spreading more responsability around. Personally, I would love for the UN to have more power and be more of a relevant entity.

  4. 4 Dave in Florida
    September 23, 2009 at 14:50

    “He (Obama) wants a new era of engagement where those who’ve criticized America for acting alone in the past cannot now stand by and wait for it to solve global problems alone.”

    It’s time to break that umbilical cord that goes from Washington to the world. Imagine that – a world in which countries actually take care of themselves. I doubt it will ever happen, but it’s a nice thought. Most of the world’s countries – especially European (except the UK), do not have the fortitude to stand up for themselves and will always whine for the U.S. to do their dirty work.

  5. 5 Roy, Washington DC
    September 23, 2009 at 14:52

    Throughout history, while there have been periods where one particular superpower (Great Britain, the Roman Empire, etc.) was dominant, these periods have always ended. The USA won’t be the world’s leading superpower forever. This isn’t necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, but it will inevitably happen.

  6. 7 Jerry Cordaro Cleveland OH
    September 23, 2009 at 15:12

    The biggest kid on the block can either be a bully or a protector. For too long, Americans have gone the bully route; it’s time to grow up and understand that we cannot go it alone in an interconnected world. There *is* no alone.

    • 8 Maurice in Portland
      September 23, 2009 at 19:05

      You need to read more history. America has done more to protect and help other countries in the world than any nation in history. The American Government’s first and highest duty is to the best interests of its citizens, just like every other country in the world. When the best interests of the American citizens is in conflict with the needs or best interests of other countries, the American Government has the duty and responsibility to “go it alone” if necessay. Name one developed or undeveloped country which has sacrificed the best interests of its citizens in favor of the best interests of the world or another country. Someday you may be required to live in the real world.

  7. September 23, 2009 at 15:21

    The US system of government does not suit it to be a super-power. Presidents elected every four years make the chance of huge swings in US perspective, and therefore, policy. This sets the stage for world leadership grounded on shifting sands rather than the bedrock of consistency. In addition, our Congress is myopic with more interest in getting re-elected than taking legislative responsibility to solve our nation’s problems, let alone provide the leadership to address the problems of the world.

    The perfect storm of George Bush, Jr’s policies and the financial meltdown have given other nations the chance to take on the mantle of leadership… if they do, the US will have to cooperate or be left to the sidelines. As sorry as I am that the US system does not let it be a consistently effective world power, I hope very sincerely, that China, India, the EU and others will be able to show the way… and thereby force the US to learn long term vision AND see it through in order to preserve a place for itself in shared world leadership. Am I hopeful? Just barely.

  8. September 23, 2009 at 15:39

    if only india and other major countries be given veto rights obamas new responsibilty mantra has any relevance.

  9. 11 Tom K in Mpls
    September 23, 2009 at 15:46

    Individual responsibility is important in any community of any scale. There is only so much that the top power in any group should try to do. Too much control is called micromanagement.

  10. 12 Anthony
    September 23, 2009 at 15:50

    I would LOVE for other countries to share in taking care of the “worlds problems”. Then maybe we (the U.S.) could use that saved money for something “good” domestically.

    We really are the world “police”. I notice that people generally talk badly about the police, until they get megged or their house broken into, then the cops are the FIRST people they call.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    • 13 nora
      September 23, 2009 at 16:47

      Anthony lives in LA and still uses metaphors about the US policing the world as a favorable thing? I grew up in LA and raised my kids there. Never once called the police because I did not want to add more violent, unpredictable behavior to already difficult human situations.

      • 14 Steve G
        September 23, 2009 at 17:50


        If the police in LA are violent and unpredictable it is YOUR responsibility to fix it.
        We get the government (and police) we deserve and if we do not ask for better it is our fault….

        I am glad that there are individuals who want to take the jobs of Policemen, Firefighters, Judges etc. These are jobs where you interact with people at their worst and are expected to be at your best 100% of the time.

  11. 15 Julia In Portland
    September 23, 2009 at 15:59

    I think a shared commitment with more balanced power is a step in the right direction.

    Shared/balanced power gives all parties more ownership of the decisions and thus more responsibility for the success.

    Besides, I don’t like it when my country acts like a bully.

  12. 16 Tamatoa, Zurich
    September 23, 2009 at 16:16

    Shared power / democracy resembling arrangements tend to work better. But if a single super power manages or leads the world’s affairs with justice then I wouldn’t mind.
    It’s encouraging to see that America wants to share power. It would empower other countries as they could bring their own ideas to the table. Else if the outcome or the plan is determined by the superpower anyway it feels like homework. The motivation is usually very small.
    Then again the world’s affairs are becoming more and more interconnected. People are becoming more educated. This has lead to many global emanzipating movements and organisations. This makes it more difficult for one single super power to control a growing number of people.
    I’m not sure how long it will take till America serously reliquishes power but it will happen. But new allegiances have to made anyway as a new dangerous superpower establishes itself: Global warming and pollution. We won’t succeed unless we face it as one people.

  13. September 23, 2009 at 16:24

    Why, sure. Shared power is far better than super-powers!
    We are all part and parcel of this big planet, so no individual country is responsible for the development, security and prosperity of our world. Therefore we must share power, and with it share responsibility for the world in general, and the parts where we each are in particular. I think the issues of proximity, ‘comparative advantage’ and availability all entail that power on the global system should be shared.
    However, it is another issue altogether determining how this power should be shared and who should have how much of it (of course it should not be shared equally)and why as well as the limits of state power… guess we cross that bridge when we get there.
    How about starting up with expanding the UN Security Council and making membership completely non-permanent, rotational and equally shared among continents (either veto should be scrapped, or extended to all members). I think this will help our world a great deal.

  14. 18 patti in cape coral
    September 23, 2009 at 16:35

    I’m reminded of when my daughter was in high school and had to do group projects. Sometimes she was lucky and got a good group that did their fair share of the work. Other times she would have to do the bulk of the work, even though they would all get equal credit. She would do it, even though it wasn’t fair, because she wanted a good grade, even if she had to share it with people who didn’t put in the effort. Shared power can be good, if it is really shared power.

  15. 19 nora
    September 23, 2009 at 16:41

    He who has the gold makes the rules—as long as he can keep it. The US is a debtor nation with a flagging infrastructure and a checkered history of intervention and misadventure. The title “super power” has always made me gag. The US got fat off of WWII and has been declining since, due to the addictions of war and corruption. Now it is simply no longer even a reasonable approximation of the truth to call the US a superpower.

    Our brand has gone south and needs to be rehabilitated as a reasonable nation which respects diplomacy.

    China and the environment: as a Californian who gets the pollution on express clouds, it is about time they got a grip. Better late than never.

  16. 20 Jack
    September 23, 2009 at 16:50

    Hi! It is not the world needs a superpower. It is a country who aspire to be one. The Chinese would rather not be known as one but other contenders like Russia , India and USA seem want to be known as one.

    • 21 Maurice in Portland
      September 23, 2009 at 19:22

      You are correct. China does not want to be know as a super power because it does not want the responsibility of a super power. But there is little doubt that China wants to be a super power. You need to read more.

  17. 22 Tom D Ford
    September 23, 2009 at 16:53

    “Is shared power better than a superpower?”

    Yes, and an analogy would be the idea of a Democracy being better than a Monarchy.

    Our international politics are still stuck in the old ways developed during the times of monarchies, of kings and queens, czars, popes, and the rest of that ilk. Top down rule by essentially strong arm dictator types, instead of the President Lincoln ideal of “Government of the People, by the People, and for the people”.

    Bush/Cheney and the PNAC, The Project For The New American Century, started up two new wars in their drive to Dominate the World, but there was no demand by anyone in the world to be Dominated.

    Ask anyone around the world if they want to be Dominated by some bully Nation, and my bet is that they will say no, that they want to be treated with respect and dignity, just like our US Declaration of Independence specifies, “All men are created equal”. We still have a long way to go to achieve the dreams of the Founders of the US, in the US, let alone the world.

    So yes, I think that widely diversified shared power is better than an all too easily corrupted superpower.

  18. 23 Tom D Ford
    September 23, 2009 at 16:55

    Here’s a funny for this thread:

    “If absolute power corrupts absolutely, does absolute powerlessness make you pure? — Harry Shearer”

  19. 24 gary
    September 23, 2009 at 16:56

    It is past time to replace superpower with super responsibility. The African adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.” needs to be updated in the global context, for we now know the truth: “It takes a world to raise a child.” Sharing power and responsibility aren’t half so important as sharing knowledge and understanding. There are big problems to be solved and it is nearly always true that a well-trained team beats a well-trained individual every time.

  20. 25 steve/oregon
    September 23, 2009 at 16:57

    The world may be shifting to a much farther spread out power base but I do not believe America will loose the role of leader of the world. Many country still are not willing to take actions until America does. Perhaps with this acknowledgement of the responsiblities that each country has could perhaps allow america to not have to lead every decision made for world direction or use its influence to sway the worlds direction.
    Though honestly I do not feel America is loosing superpower status because as we saw with the economic crisis the world still depends on us.
    There are other countries rising to the call of power (china, india) but lets not forget there whole rise to power is based of America pushing there economies up. If we decided they where getting too big for there britches there would be a few meeting and tarifs would be raised.

  21. 26 Peter Kimura
    September 23, 2009 at 17:02

    I am soo tired that the US has gone alone and other nations did not even lift a finger in helping with the world problems, or making useful suggestions, making things worse. President Obama’s speech made alot of sense, but the question is, are other nations willing to help out instead of playing the jealousy/blame game? Time to make that change, help out and stop blaming the United States for being the worlds do goodiers. Because even the United States needs your assistance and useful suggestions.

  22. 27 Ibrahim in UK
    September 23, 2009 at 17:11

    Shared power doesn’t last long. Governments are guided by economic factors. Eventually, one will become stronger than the other and will be able to exploit that advtange.
    But what happens when the republicans come back to power and revert to their PNAC doctrine of overwhelming US supremacy? Or as Colin Powell said “I want to be the bully on the block”.
    Or will China want to share control of Middle East oil when it knows it can ally itself with the groups/rebels who want to overthrow their pro-US dictators?

    Superpower, shared or not, will never be good for the world when they are dictated by insatiable greed for owning and controlling other nations and their resources.

  23. 28 John in Salem
    September 23, 2009 at 17:17

    The U.S. has been the only superpower for less than 20 years, enough time to clearly show the dangers of a lopsided balance.
    Our own system of three branches of government – executive, legislative and judicial – was established to prevent just such a concentration of power and the founders of our Constitution would see the position we are in today as a perilous invitation to abuse. Recent history demonstrates the legitimacy of that fear.
    It is finally beginning to dawn on the governments of the world that dominance is a liability and a game we can no longer afford to play. Surviving this century will be humanity’s greatest test – if we can’t take our cue from evolution, from observing those species that thrive by cooperation, then evolution will decide our future for us.
    And it doesn’t care how important we think we are.

  24. 29 Jack in So-Cal (USA)
    September 23, 2009 at 17:23

    Hmmm . . . competition . . . that’s not something we Americans are comfortable with. Can’t India and China just stop out-performing us (educationally and economically) so we can keep telling ourselves that we’re better than everyone else?

  25. 30 steve
    September 23, 2009 at 17:24

    Listening to Khadaffi ramble with all of his conspiracies and accusations is proof the UN needs to be disbanded. What a joke this idiot is spewing this filth. Can’t wait for Ahadminejad

  26. 31 Nigel
    September 23, 2009 at 17:39

    No such thing as shared power…….doesn’t work. This imposes a special responsibility on those who do lead by whatever yardstick to realize that their decisions affect the whole world noty just their own politcal support base.

  27. 32 vijay pillai
    September 23, 2009 at 17:52

    A new era of peaceful coexistence with no nuclear power at their disposal even by 2030 or 2040 is a practical possibility and the future of the mankind demand vision now for action later.Berlin wall came down in 1989 but no new move for almost 2 decades towards nuclear free world.

  28. 33 Andrew in Australia
    September 23, 2009 at 17:57

    It depends on the superpower. Imagine if in the past the Soviets had won the cold war and were the solitary super power. I am no fan of the US policy over the year, but don’t get me wrong considering the alternative at least the Americans were mostly… on the side of good (yeah I know). Now what if China rises to superpower status? Would they be a credible alternative, but of course for many reasons they never will.

    • 34 leo goki,Nigeria
      September 23, 2009 at 23:04

      I Aagree with u Andrew as Bad as America can some times be tghey still do a lot of Good just imagine if a country like China or Russia were the sole super power the world would be in horrible shape

  29. September 23, 2009 at 17:58

    It’s time for the US to focus more on domestic issues like the economy, renewable energies, high-speed transit, education, healthcare and a wide range of other issues that affect the daily lives of Americans. The foolishness of George W. Bush’s policies like nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan must come to an end. Likewise, the rest of the world can’t expect the US to solve every problem of global significance. All of the major powers have to work together to help solve those.

  30. September 23, 2009 at 18:03

    Obama relies on false premises. America does not contribute disproportionately to solving world problems. The US gives less foreign aid per capita than all other developed nations, and a large share of that goes to affluent Israel. This exacerbates rather than solves problems, and the unilateral aggression of both nations violates international law rather than supporting world order.

  31. 37 Jack in So-Cal (USA)
    September 23, 2009 at 18:06

    The US only became a “Superpower” because the economy of Great Britain was exhausted in the 30s and the only other military competition (besides Russia and China) were shackled by post-WWII sanctions. If the world is capable of learning from its history, the crown of “superpower” will be abdicated by the United States, left to rust on the pile of failed empires.

  32. 38 Jack in So-Cal (USA)
    September 23, 2009 at 18:11

    Some clarity here: isn’t “superpower” just a euphemism for empire?

  33. 39 Lindsay
    September 23, 2009 at 18:11

    Working together is the best way to solve problems. The world working together is the best way to solve world problems. The U.S. does not own the world thus, as Obama said, we need to work together to make a change.

  34. 40 Terria
    September 23, 2009 at 18:13

    Hey i do believe that the power should be share the worlds power, individualism has not been working, im from a small islands (Jamaica) so i do believe in shared power, after all Globalization is like shared power, amongst business and other markets..

  35. 41 Ryan in Alberta
    September 23, 2009 at 18:16

    The shift from one super power to a shared power may have a detrimental effect, as the smaller countries who look to the larger for some guidance will no longer be able to do this as easily, however a shared power would be the best thing for the world, as this world does not only belong to the USA or China.

    The world has recently been finding more and more issues that deal with global issues and not regional issues, so everyone should be a part of this and work together.

  36. 42 Jason
    September 23, 2009 at 18:17

    I believe a superpower is useful for getting things done. Sometimes too many participants delays progress. Just look how fast China is growing thanks to it’s political structure. However, it’s not very democratic and superpowers have a habit of alienating large groups of people or blocks of countries.

  37. September 23, 2009 at 18:20

    Before any America bashing begins: People should ask themselves, what other country would you prefer be the world’s only super power? America has certainly shown itself to be one of the most restrained superpowers in world history. Communist, and incresingly militaristic, China would certainly be more problematic, same for Russia. India might be a different story, as the world’s largest democracy!

  38. 44 MJ
    September 23, 2009 at 18:21

    Whether or not the world shifts to sharing power and influence more broadly, we will fail as a generation and as a species if we do not shift the goal posts away from wealth, accumulation, and increasing GDP. Current economic measures depend on increasing consumption. We must measure success as the well-being of the planet and of people, no matter who has the majority power share.

  39. 45 Jack in So-Cal (USA)
    September 23, 2009 at 18:28

    Anyone who thinks the United States has a better record on human rights than China has never cracked the spine of a history book.

    • 46 Andrew in North Carolina
      September 23, 2009 at 18:48

      Jack, I think you are being a bit harsh. Of course the U.S. has a checkered past and curent injustices, as do all other nations. But you are not in danger of being arrested for your blog post, as you might be in China and many other nations. Everything is relative, and most people around the world would love to have the freedoms that we in the U.S. take for granted. In fact, you are in many ways typically American: self-critical and progressively-oriented.

      • 47 Maurice in Portland
        September 23, 2009 at 19:33

        There are no other citizens in the world who blog as intensely critical about their country and/or government as some Americans. This is true even for citizens from some of the most repressive countries in history. We here in America has enjoyed such a tremendous degree and length of freedome we seem to have lost our perspective. America bad other countries good. Perhaps people like these are essential to a strong Democracy. It so, America is set to enjoy its freedom for thousands of centuries.

      • 48 leo goki,Nigeria
        September 23, 2009 at 23:15

        jack should try throwing a shoe at my president in Nigeria like that Iraqi journalist, i can assure him with my life he will be riddled with buletts before he can say JACK, now thats freedom 4 u in Nigeria, do you really think we could EVEN be having a world have your say conversation in China? or Russia ? or North Korea or Burma if he thinks Americas human rights record is worse than China he should try running an independent radio station in China and consistently critise the Chinise govt without being killed. ………good luck

  40. 49 Charley in Portland
    September 23, 2009 at 18:35

    Shared Power is crucial to our survival in the future. Problems such as climate change & population migration do not respect borders; so affected countries must work together to resolve them. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “We must hang together or we shall all hang separately”.

  41. 50 Tom D Ford
    September 23, 2009 at 18:36

    Ros, How about addressing the problem of giant Global Corporations, many of which are larger and more powerful than most Nations in the world.

    I suggest that the entire world needs to get together and take “Person hood” away from any and all Corporations. Let’s reduce the power and size of Corporations until they serve mankind instead of our current way of mankind serving Corporations.

  42. 51 Jesse in Kentucky
    September 23, 2009 at 18:37

    The sharing of power amongst a few nations would not neccesarily make things better. Are oligopolies much better than a monopoly in terms of improving an economy? I feel that the sharing of power amongst a few nations has it’s benefits, however I fear that it could come at the expense of the rest of this planet’s citizens. Just as cartels collude to manipulate the market, a group of powerful nations may just end up working together while taking advantage of everybody else.

  43. 52 Andrew in North Carolina
    September 23, 2009 at 18:42

    Winston-Salem, North Carolina:
    I have long thought that what the world needs is a council of democracies. Only democratic governments are legitimate, and only they can speak legitimately on human rights. The council would include the obvious democratic-republics: the U.S., Europe, Canada, Mexico, Australia, India, Pakistan (now, but not under Musharref), Indonesia, Turkey, Israel, South Africa, South Korea, and some of the other few real democracies in Asia and Africa. China and Russia would be excluded until they make much more progress in real democratic institutions (independent judiciaries, free elections, etc.). This council could make decisions more easily w/out the roadblock of the anti-democratic nations represented in the U.N.

    • 53 Peter
      September 24, 2009 at 16:52

      Get real. To exclude China and Russia from any world organisation is nuts. Every dictators would rather join them and start their own block . That includes all the major oil supplier from the middle east . Africa and south America. The democratic block will have to relive the cold war and do atrocities to get back their lifeline.

  44. 54 Maurice in Portland
    September 23, 2009 at 18:43

    Should the focus be on the responsibility and accountability of “Super Powers”. Leadership carries with it not just the disproportionate level of influence but also the responsibility to serve as a role model by doing more and being held accountable. The American people as individuals have often been the first to open their individual wallets and purses to help people in other countries. The U.S. government has often been the first to offer and deliver assistance to other countries when tragedy struck. The world for decades has held the U.S. to a higher standard than other countries and have been quick to critize when the U.S. has not met their expecatations. All over the world countries have been able to a avoid individual responsibility by blaming the U.S. for their internal problems.

    As an America citizen I would very much like the U.S. to step down as a Super Power and World Leader and relinquish this thankless title to China, India, Russia, Japan or any other country. Let them pour billions of dollars into defense spending. Let them be responsible for being the first to respond to the needs of other countries. Let them be the scapegoat for any and all ills which countries decide to ascribe to them. Let other countries find out how responsive China will be to efforts to hold it accountable. Let other countries find out what kinds of influence other countries will exert as a Super Power. I am just plain sick and tired of other countries belly aching as if they have some devine right to be taken care of my another country. America owes no more to any other country than other countries owe to each other. Grow up world.

  45. September 23, 2009 at 18:48


    how about you explain yourself.

    You think there is a comparison of ‘present day’ human rights between the U.S. and China. You are mistaken.

    I don’t know how far back in history you want to go to validate your point.

  46. September 23, 2009 at 18:50

    There were people in the streets in America against the Iraq war. So the speaker needs to get her facts straight.

  47. 57 Neil, London
    September 23, 2009 at 18:50

    The indignance of your American contributors simply astounds me. The major obstacle to greater international cooperation, burden-sharing and indeed EQUITY over the last 60 years has been none other than the US. If Obama is serious about this then it is his own country he needs to bring on board first!!

  48. September 23, 2009 at 18:50

    I’m sorry, at least in Europe, countries aren’t “wasting” large amounts of money on defense because the United States IS doing so. If the U.S. were to cut its defense budget substantially and remove its European bases, I suspect you would see a whole different attitude toward the defense budget in the EU countries.

  49. 59 Tom D Ford
    September 23, 2009 at 18:52

    Democracies are corruptible so that idea of only democracies is wrong.

    There are many kinds of governments and the ideal is social justice for all!

  50. September 23, 2009 at 18:52

    I can understand China wanting representation on the world stage, but absolute power corrupts absolutely, whether you’re talking about individuals or governments. A basic root of human rights is treating others, including those of other cultures, as you would want to be treated. In the West at least, that would be with fairness, dignity, and respect for self-determination. The Chinese PEOPLE may hold that as a value, but an unregulated corporation or undemocratic government may not.

  51. September 23, 2009 at 18:55


    your post lacks perspective.

  52. 62 Michelle from Jamaica
    September 23, 2009 at 18:57

    Where will smaller countries fit into this? I live in a ocuntry that does not appear on some world maps. We would still be left out. Obama speaks very idealistically, not sure of their practicality.I hope he can really influence change.

  53. 63 Ryan in Alberta
    September 23, 2009 at 18:57

    The comment that Andrew in Carolina made, is just non-sense. This is the problem at the moment, that there are just too many people that are closed minded. What the heck could this democratic council get done when both Russia and China (which cover almost 20% of the worlds land mass) are not included.

  54. 64 I Leung
    September 23, 2009 at 18:58

    China has very little airlift capacity – it can barely deal with a little disturbance on the Sino-Burmese border, as events in August in Burma showed.
    China’s profile as a power is generally overrated, and the way the issue of superpower status is discussed shows how naive the general level of understanding is about power in the world.

    The EU, however, is an example of shared power

    I Leung
    United Kingdom

  55. 65 Bret Bergst in Portland Maine
    September 23, 2009 at 18:58

    Check out the US opening speech on the New York Times website. If you look at the text it is clear that the US is starting to move back towards the international “mainstream” at the UN and is advocating multilateralism on some issues. One point is the realization that the US can’t move its Nuclear Non-Proliferation agenda forward alone. Recent actions support this too. Changing US plans on missile defence to bring Russia to the negotiating table. However, it doesn’t look like any huge shift in US Policy. Very little substance in the speech on development, the environment, human rights or UN reform.

  56. 66 Neil, London
    September 23, 2009 at 18:59

    Phyllis is awesome!

    • 67 Maurice in Portland
      September 23, 2009 at 19:38

      For “blame America first and always for everything wrong in the world, no one out performs Phyllis. But damn, she sounds so good at it. She must give thanks to God everyday she is not a Chinese or Russian citizen living in her country of citizenship. Would she have the courage to speech out against the behaviors of such governments ? I doubt it.

  57. 68 Joane in Cleveland
    September 23, 2009 at 19:05

    I believe America will remain a super power. Maybe not in the vein used here but as long as her ‘freedoms’ remain, she will retain that position. I see no country surviving when it denies freedoms of any kind, especially, of speech. Ideas make you grow. China can raise all the capital she wants but she still is 2nd rate with respect to her people’s voices. This can be said about a lot of countries. Yet, there have been many ’empires’, not necessarily super powers. Great Britain, in her hey day was one since her reach spanned oceans. Spain at one time, until that pesky armada thingy and a great queen. Egypt ruled roughly 4 thousand years, Rome, a thousand. China was one of the most advanced, educated nations in history. Africa has had many kingdoms and empires other than Egypt. Those Persians of a hundred and one nights. The world is a unique and wonderful place and it’s history is a source of wonder to study. Yet, super-power, as we know it? USA period. Russia has fallen. They came AFTER us.

  58. September 23, 2009 at 19:20

    Hi Ross, Thanks for the opportunity. I believe as President Obama said, this is a new new era, and that is the way things are supposed to be done to help us find that elusive world peace that we all seem to be looking for. The new era now is to get together and get things done. No single nation would have all the wisdom that the world requires. I believe even the smallest nation has something to offer.

  59. 70 Ayeah Michael
    September 23, 2009 at 19:35

    The ability to tackle the world’s problem is based on the country’s capacity in both military and economic power.
    But the most important thing I wish to add is the opposing views and abitions that are bound to exist. Until the world has a collective goal and not National goals, each country- super power or minor power, will always seek to acheieve their ambition foremost.
    How can a countries be able to help other countries when they donot understand the culture or the sense of history surrounded in any national comflict.
    Superpowers can use their stick and carrot method, at least it limits us to just a few comflicting views.
    Ayeah Michael

  60. 71 Jason
    September 23, 2009 at 20:06

    What a stupid question, of course shared power is better than a superpower. What’s tomorrows question, “Is a Democracy better than a Dictatorship?”

    • 72 Tom K in Mpls
      September 24, 2009 at 18:33

      That would depend on the dictator. There have been a number of excellent dictators in South America and quite a few equally good kings and emperors in Asia and Europe.

  61. 73 archibald
    September 23, 2009 at 20:47

    It is not a question of better, it is a question of reality. We are NOT the superpower we once were and that status will continue to diminish so long as we act like a bully. “There is no I in we”, and we are going to have to learn to play better with the other children or risk suffering the fate of all said, “superpowers”, before us. Sharing is the only way………

    • 74 Maurice in Portland
      September 24, 2009 at 14:46

      ARCHIBALD sharing implies a mutual interaction in a give and take fashion There is no need for the U.S. to be the Super Power it once was. What have the other countries contributed to the world ? Its so easy to critize the U.S. rather than look to the contributions or lack of meaningful contributions by other countries. One of the major problems in the world are the expectations other countries have of the U.S. What expectations do other countries have for themselves ? Do other countries hold themselves as accountable as they demand the U.S. be held ? Being the target of world criticism comes with being a Super Power.

      The only question is whether the world is better off for the U.S. having been and remaining a Super Power ?

  62. September 23, 2009 at 20:59

    It is not the issue of share power that we need today, but the undoing of Spheres of influence, and the concept of border states, whom are antagonistic to each other, Balance in global politics should be backed by Deeds and not just action, A Multipolar World? The actions of those wanting multipolarism should be real, upliting the poor masses most especially in Africa.Harmony is what we need , Intermarrige amongst peoples of all races, free travel without hindrence,

    for the Earth is bUt one country, and Humanity its citizens:
    Dual balance, but yet coherent, and acting as one, is the way forward.

  63. 76 GTR5
    September 23, 2009 at 21:58

    Frankly, as a US taxpayer, I would love to see the US pull out of the UN and tell the UN to pack up and move to Africa. It is a corrupt, useless organization and the US taxpayers are the ones who are burdened with paying most of the money to run it. Thank you for asking.

  64. 77 leo goki,Nigeria
    September 23, 2009 at 22:41

    Do we really think China, or Russia or even North Korea or India care one bit about trying to sove the worlds problems, the US may try to look out for its self and it’s intrest but at least they try to solve SOME of the world problems, what is China doing about what is happening in Dafur, when last did China contribute Troops to any UN peacekeeping mission or even volunteer to be the first ones to go to a place to keep the peace? when did Russia send peace keepers to a country it has no stake in, America has done a lot of good and a lot of bad but at least they did something when the rest of the world sat back and shamefully did nothing.May be it is high time Russia or China or France or India proposed a middle east peace plan and tried to talk to both sides or maybe they should start contributing more money to the UN or to fight Malaria in Africa or the next tim there is a civil war in some part of the world let China be the first onees to send peacekeepers ………..GOD BLESS AMERICA

  65. 78 Liz in San Jose
    September 23, 2009 at 22:55

    Shared power is a good thing – but it needs to come from a foundation of shared principles. These shared principles should at least be more humanitarian in intention, than about commercial interests. The US is now facing a reality of a somewhat squandered leadership position in the world (thanks in part to the 8 years proceeding Obama) – that doesn’t mean that there’s necessarily a natural successor.

    I question the foundation of principles that underpin China and its rise as a Superpower – where has China worked to achieve peace in the world? What are China’s beliefs about the common good? I can’t help but feel that this is more about “face” and “standing” that it is about helping out the rest of the world. Let’s not forget their support of ruling parties in Burma and other such countries as well as their domestic humanitarian record. Let’s see what China REALLY does around climate change.

  66. 79 Kindi Jallow
    September 24, 2009 at 01:15

    I quite agree in trying to restore the image of America to the outside world it is a step in the right direction. Collective responsibility or multilateralism in some issues for it is said that absolute power is absolute curruption. A leadership should lead by example, how can talk abour global warming and mitigating the effect if you have nuclear arsenals on the ground, on space and in the sea? Is this not a sign of paranoia or what else.

  67. 80 T
    September 24, 2009 at 02:01

    Yes, the States will no longer continue to be THE superpower in the world.

    Obama surrounds himself with many economic advisors that had key roles in starting the Global Depression. And still he refuses to replace them or to stop printing endless dollars. And unless Obama Man can defy the laws of economics, how can the States maintain this dominance? They can’t.

  68. 81 Juliette in Germany
    September 24, 2009 at 05:55

    Uncle Sam should go it alone.
    Let him fight his dirty wars over oil on his own.
    We will stop licking his boots and pull German troops out of this doomed Afghanistan mission.

    • 82 Maurice in Portland
      September 24, 2009 at 14:37

      JULIETTE IN GERMANY. I agree with you. American should have taken this position immediately after World War II and allowed Russia to take over Germany. I can only imagine the hundreds of billions of dollars America could have saved. My brothers, uncle, friends, cousins and other would not have been stationed in Germany. The U.S. presence in Germany is the reason you now speak German instead of or together with Russian. I do not believe you were worth the effort and expense.

  69. 83 scmehta
    September 24, 2009 at 07:53

    After all, how much and how long can you keep burdening the US or any other superpower for this and that? Besides, isn’t it a paradox that, on the one hand, many countries look up to one or the other superpower for help or for extracting them out of difficult times/situations, and on the other, most of these very countries, some of the times, blame those very powers, of interfering in their internal affairs or for causing harm to their systems/societies. Actually, it is because of this hypocritical attitude, and some other considerations like sharing the burden of financial and moral issues, that shared-responsibility is more practical/viable and better option for facing major international or global problems.

  70. 84 Moeka
    September 24, 2009 at 12:36

    The US political sysytem is well entrenched and has evolved over the years.What the rest of world should do now is to copy the good examples of demcracy and stop crying wolf. Superpower no superpower the US is dominanting the rest of us because of its system of governance. For africa we either move fast or we will stay behind forever.

  71. September 24, 2009 at 13:47

    This subject is not new. Bertrand Russell suggested something similar in one of his essays,shortly after WW2. He suggested a world government,with all power and all arms. He does say that the project would be Utopian and impossible,except if bought about by agreement. He then goes on to say that mutual suspicions would not allow that to happen. I have heard,quite recently,the expression; One world, One Government One Religeon. Could this be the hidden agenda! Ibrahim UK is more nearer the mark with his comment on human nature…..Someone will finish up being the Super power.

  72. 86 Monalisa Tembo
    September 24, 2009 at 16:19

    I feel that power sharing can be the best because i believe that its hard for one nation/ person to run things in favour for all its only when different people meet and decides at least they can agree something they will both be satisfied.

    Mzuzu Malawi

  73. 87 Justin Durueke
    September 24, 2009 at 16:51

    I support the US President on this. Often times people blame the US for interferencing in the Affairs of other nations. During the Clinton administration, the world kept quiet during the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. The United States went to war and stopped this. Most recently, the election problems in Iran was looked at as an American problem because the Obama led administration did not speak up immediately to condemn Ahmadinejad and his Basij militia. If other countries of the world put as much effort as the United States, the world would be a better place. Even though the United States is the most powerful nation on earth, we must not forget that the United States is just like any other nation and has its own problems. The global economic downturn will also limit America’s global reach as foreign aid and peace-keeping mission may be reduced. I must not forget to call on the United Nations to play an active role. Some have referred to this body as a “toothless bulldog” but I think there should be an overhaul. An overhaul of this 20th century organization will be equip it with tools to deal with 21st century issues and challenges.

  74. 88 Justin Durueke
    September 24, 2009 at 16:53

    I support the US President on this. Often times people blame the US for interfering in the Affairs of other nations. During the Clinton administration, the world kept quiet during the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. The United States went to war and stopped this. Most recently, the election problems in Iran was looked at as an American problem because the Obama led administration did not speak up immediately to condemn Ahmadinejad and his Basij militia. If other countries of the world put as much effort as the United States, the world would be a better place. Even though the United States is the most powerful nation on earth, we must not forget that the United States is just like any other nation and has its own problems. The global economic downturn will also limit America’s global reach as foreign aid and peace-keeping mission may be reduced. I must not forget to call on the United Nations to play an active role. Some have referred to this body as a “toothless bulldog” but I think there should be an overhaul. An overhaul of this 20th century organization will be equip it with tools to deal with 21st century issues and challenges.

  75. 89 Elias
    September 24, 2009 at 20:37

    Shared power, sole power or any other, as long as theres mutual trust and common interests for a better world of peace and tranquility.
    Untill the players of terrorist acts are subdued once and for all, and nations on earth agree to get together and agree their common interests is for peace.

  76. 90 archibald
    September 24, 2009 at 21:30


    You may have misunderstood me. I do not htink that anyone should be a “superpower”, those days are over……….. Expectation is a losing game no matter what it applies to, but, I do not think that the U.S. is exempt from expectation due to the way in which it states its objectives. If we talked less and did more, it would benefit everyone. I agree that there is a lack of meaningful participation by many other nations, but, that is not entirely their choice. Many lack the resources to make contributions, due to the restrictions placed on them by said, “superpowers”. Sharing is the only solution, but, trust and respect must be established in order to instill confidence and encourage participation. That has not been our strong suit up to now.

  77. 91 Jim in Manhattan
    September 25, 2009 at 03:21

    America’s decline may be inevitable, over the span of time, as such declines occur throughout history. But Barack Obama and his policies are certainly expediting America’s fall. Just as Britain’s international preeminence was preceded by the erosion of its currency in the 1920’s, so, too, is America’s currency decline being expedited by President Obama’s wreckless, spendthrift ways. Medicare, Social Security, and now “Healthcare” are all programs that we have not been willing to fund. Our choice has not been so much guns or butter but butter or prosperity, and we opted for the latter.

    Benjamin Franklin’s famous 18th Century admonition (“We have given you a Republic, if you can keep it!”), should be as much an alarm to present-day Americans as any terror alert or hurricane warning. The fiscal wrecklessness heaped upon this once proud Republic — by generations that thought more of themselves than their progeny — may very well presage the fall of the American Republic, the last best hope for the world.

  78. 92 Peter
    September 25, 2009 at 04:10

    What has China done for the world. A lot,
    China inspired India to start to move up the economic ladder.
    They made Australia , south America and oil producing nations rich .
    For peace , they encouraged pakistan to walk the middle way in their conflict with India.
    Aid to Africa exceeds the G8. BBC should report the positive sides like the schools ,hospitals , railway and the super highway in countries of africa even those that can’t offer any raw materials in

  79. September 25, 2009 at 11:05

    Hello, Superpower that is a title most countries love to hate. Which comes to mind China is fast becoming like one both military & economically (above picture of Mr Hu) that is not good. Why should the usual fews decides the fate of everyone, while the rest just sit back as arm chair critics. Shared Power is a good things, it reduced misunderstanding when information are shared around, the consequences of inaction this burden is weight on everyone mind the blame falls on everyone. Maybe its time everyone get some voting power in United Nation:”do you agreed all countries should own nuclear weapons”….and what happen if….let have them have those voting rights

  80. September 26, 2009 at 12:32

    Shared power plus horse-trading is the name of the game. The only problem is: does everybody know the rules?

  81. 95 John LaGrua/New York
    September 29, 2009 at 19:29

    Shared power requires burden sharing . Pay to play.The US cannot go it alone but it must retain it’s freedom of action when US vital interests are involved.The new geo-political reality is a growing China and a US entangled in a maze of unproductive alliances and policies.and crushing burden of debt.Consultation and cooperation on a case by case basis will ensure a more productive resolution of problems .Obama should recall Chamberlain’s lament that Britain unprepared was drawn into WW11 as a result of antiquated treaties.The American people do not aspire to empire and are wary of war and the sacrifice of men and treasure in foreign conflicts which they do not regard as in the US interests. This is a period of enormous upheaveal and a new paradigm is needed to build toward peace and renewed prosperity.The US will still be a beacon of freedom in the world if returns to it’s core principles of fairness and justice.

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