Claudia Rosett believes that the most underreported foreign news story of 2013 is the decline of American power.
This past year saw many parts of this story covered in detail. There has been endless print about the U.S.-led diplomatic dalliance with Iran, from which Iranian officials emerged to announce their “inalienable right” to enrich uranium, while America officials advertised as an achievement a half-baked short-term nuclear deal that has been neither clarified nor implemented. Not only has the U.S. failed to stop the “unacceptable” Iranian bomb program; America has gone far to erode its own credibility in denouncing as unacceptable — yet de facto accepting — everything from rogue nuclear programs to the theft of massive amounts of information from its own National Security Agency. Where does this go?
There’s also been plenty written about the rise of Putin’s increasingly despotic and ambitious Russia — looming over Ukraine, and reasserting itself in the Middle East. This year brought the U.S. climbdown over Syria, in which the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons translated into gains for Moscow and irrelevancy for Washington. Another story was China’s territorial jockeying, along with Japan’s growing worry about the reliability of the old U.S. defense umbrella. On North Korea, there has been plenty of copy devoted to young hereditary tyrant Kim Jong Un conducting his maiden nuclear test — North Korea’s third since 2006 — while the U.S., alerted in advance, looked on.