It is impossible to discuss a future role of the United States of America in the world without understanding the global processes that have been taken place in the world over the last several years. September 11, without doubt, was a break point event in these processes. First, it showed people a danger of an international terrorism. Second, the event brought about a confrontation between two different viewpoints on the development of world politics. On the one hand, politicians from many countries believe that any active actions to preserve world order must be organized only by United Nations. On the other hand, the United States is pushing forward its aggressive unilateral policy that is based only on Washingtons (sometimes biased) understanding of the current international situation.
This US strategy was clearly demonstrated in Iraq. Now, after two and a half years of the war, the question must be asked if this policy achieved its goals. Did it bring a peace and stabilization in the post Sadam country? Yes, the military operation itself was a success. Actually, it was difficult to imagine any other result of that war considering that the conflict was between a mighty US and Iraq, a third level military power. Despite the military successes, this strategy did not produce desirable results. The USA cannot stabilize the situation, and the Iraqis continue to organize attacks against the US and coalition forces.
May be the USA had another reason to start the war? Some people (in Russia, anyway) believe that a real goal of US policy in the Middle East is to take under control a so-called the worlds hydrocarbon ellipse. It is obvious, that a power controlling that region would become a master of the world in this century. Now, the USA is in much less favorable economical position than some other countries (potential Americas enemies). So, the US efforts to extend its influence over that area are an attempt to liquidate this imbalance once and for all.
But this goal could hardly be achieved by military means. If the USA decided to occupy some other states in that area, they would surely face a guerrilla resistance, like in Iraq and Afganistan. History proved that the only way to suppress insurgency is a policy of mass terror, and I doubt that America will ever use it. The attempts to organize puppet democratic governments will fail too. Such regimes will be hated by the general population and overthrown as soon as US army leaves the country.
By the way, why did Bushs administration decide to occupy a sovereign country to fight international terrorism? What is the connection between an organized group of criminals and an independent state? Why not occupy Italy to fight the Italian Mafia?
I think that a Washingtons current unilateral policy is useless and even dangerous. It is increased a general instability in the World. Iraq became a place that attracts terrorism from all over the globe. The wave of anti-Americanism grew up in the world, even in Western Europe, a traditional ally of the United States. The danger of a terrorist attack on the territory of the United States is even higher than itwas before the Iraq war. It seems that the only purpose of US actions is to remain the worlds single superpower by any means.
I believe that the USA will not be able to continue its unilateral policy anymore because it goes against objective processes in the world economy and international relations. First of these processes is globalization that does make the world more and more interconnected and interdependent place. Another factor is a steady development of a multipolar world. I doubt that China would joint a unipolar structure and be obedient to US decisions. The EU would become another worlds center of power. The political regimes in European countries are very close to American, so any military confrontations are very unlikely at this point. But an economical competition would be intense. I would say that the other war, between the euro and the dollar, is already on, and the dollar is loosing so far.
There is another potential threat to the USA. Only a few years ago, a dollar was almost equivalent to gold. People and businesses all over the world tried to keep their savings in dollars. A huge amount of American currency was accumulated in foreign countries. Now, when a dollar is getting cheaper, many try to get rid of it and buy euros. What would happen if all this dollar cash came back to the USA? India, Japan, and Russia will probably also try to make their influence on the world politics comparable with their economical potential.
Also, it is possible that the USA will return to the policy of partial isolationism to concentrate on its own problems. First, US troops should be withdrawn from Iraq. This action will greatly destabilize the situation in the Middle East, and Iraq, probably, will become a new center of Islamic fundamentalism. Islamic radicals will increase their activity and the situation will become very dangerous for many countries, but not for the USA. The terrorists simply could not reach the United States. It will be a real danger for the EU and Russia, American adversaries. In Russia the war could spread from Chechnya to the whole Caucasus region. In European countries the danger of terrorist acts would increase dramatically. Of course it would be terrible act (an immediate withdrawing of the troops) from a moral point of view, but the States have already shown several times that they care only about their own interests.
Money and troops released after the war would be used to protect borders. The threat of terrorist attack using a weapon of mass distraction is real, and the open boarders are the easiest way to get in the States. Boarders should be guarded not by overweight volunteers gathering around an American flag, but by elite troops. Some funds would be used to improve security services; I think they need more informers. The terrorists can strike only from inside of the United States. That is why the only way to fight them is to put everything in order in your own country.
In conclusion, no one can say how the world will look like even in the nearest future; we can only predict. One thing is clear, however, the future of the country directly depends on todays policy.