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How we can be sure that the predictions for diminishing American power are true, asks Joseph Nye in op-ed in the Korea Times. Countries are not like humans with predictable life spans, says Nye. Indeed, for all the fashionable predictions of China, India, or Brazil surpassing the U.S. in the coming decades, the classical transition of power among great states may be less of a problem than the rise of modern barbarians - non-state actors. In an information-based world of cyber-insecurity, power diffusion may be a greater threat than power transition, thinks Nye.

In today's world, the distribution of power varies with the context. It is distributed in a pattern that resembles a three-dimensional chess game. On the top chessboard, military power is largely unipolar, and the U.S. is likely to remain the only superpower for some time. But on the middle chessboard, economic power has already been multipolar for more than a decade, with the U.S., Europe, Japan, and China as the major players, and others gaining in importance. 

The bottom chessboard is the realm of cross-border transactions that occur outside of government control. The problem of American power in the 21st century is not one of decline, but of recognizing that even the most powerful country cannot achieve its aims without the help of others, concludes Nye.


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