Jones, 14 – Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Director, Project on International Order and Strategy @ Brookings (Bruce, “American Leadership in a World in Flux,” March 10, 2014, http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2014/03/10-american-leadership-flux-jones?rssid=LatestFromBrookings)//eek
There's never been a more important time to understand American power, and leadership. We need only look to Russian special forces in Crimea, Chinese warships in the East China Sea, and an ever-deeper crisis in Syria to see the stakes. In every region, and at home, critics decry the lack of American leadership, and American withdrawal from the world stage. The narrative of American decline and withdrawal is becoming the conventional wisdom. But is it right? What we're really seeing is a mounting gap between the fundamentals, on the one hand, and perceptions and policy on the other. The fundamentals of American power are still strong. We spend more on our military than the next 15 countries combined, 10 of whom are close allies, and we have a huge advantage in high-tech weaponry, training, a global network of bases, a dominant intelligence capacity. (That doesn't necessarily translate into easy military answers to crises, of course.) We dominate the league tables in higher education. The shale and tight oil revolution give us an increasingly strong position in global energy markets, and demonstrate the technological dynamism of our economy. Our population is young, and growing. And no leading power in modern history has had anything like the suite of alliances that America enjoys.