From my perspective, the headline coverage of the direction of the US on the global stage is mostly pessimistic. But I want to see if that is actually justified. I concede it's not an easy undertaking, but humans can split the atom, surely if we're astute enough, we can avoid biases and other statistical pitfalls.
Of course, "Global Leadership" is somewhat nebulous, but to my surprise, there are still many variables that can serve as excellent proxies. The challenge is that it doesn't appear to be a clean-cut verdict one way or the other. Starting with the data points for America retreating from global leadership, there are many obvious, measurable data points that can be collected either as time series or simple count variables:
America retreating from global leadership
- Credibility (Syria redline, pulling support from
- Strength of totalitarian opponents increased (tally data)
- Outcome of US military engagements (ISIS, demise of Afghanistan)
- Other countries filling trading partner vacuum (BRI / China in
- Lack of education system reforms, like when US had Sputnik moment (spending data)
- Domestic instability (polarization, storm of capitol building)
But the story of allies being disappointed in American leadership goes back decades. Post WWII, Truman, Eisenhower all faced blowback. Even Reagan got flak for pulling out of Lebanon. So, perhaps, it's not that we have to live up to the gilded age of democracy spreading globally in the 1980s-2000s. There were plenty of leadership missteps contemporaneously and prior to that time. Instead, there's also compelling data that global leadership is trending upwards:
America increasing its global leadership
- Self-evident tech leader (global tech issuers choose US exchanges)
- Countries are still clamoring to get into NATO (tally data)
- Allies still eager to seek US military training operations (tally data)
- Allies willing fight in Iraq and Afghanistan for 10-20 years (attests to credibility)
- More recently, treasury producing minimum global corporate tax rate
It seems that such a nuanced and layered issue is too subjective to answer, however, all the bullet points above can easily be measured. The data is there.
So, provided we have quantitative measures similar to the above, can theory get us any closer to a quantitative measure of American Global Leadership?