J. E. Dyer has an excellent piece at Hot Air talking about the new balance of power and what American superpowerdom hath wrought.
As a superpower, the US has functioned as an alternative to the formation of blocs, which coalesce chiefly around the dynamics of aggression and security fears. America’s ascendancy has mitigated the tendency of regional collectives to become blocs, which they do by succumbing to unipolar leadership and organizing “against” the nations outside of them. The EU has been a relatively benign entity because of the existence of the United States as a superpower. The same can be said of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Asia or UNASUR in Latin America, formed in 2008. None of these entities would have formed quiescently, as a collective of political equals, in the absence of the US as a superpower.
The dimension of military force is key, and in a way we rarely think about except in the breach. Under liberal Western leadership, expeditionary force has been the prerogative of national governments, and is to be used sparingly and deliberately, for explicit, auditable purposes, after consultation with other stakeholders and a relatively transparent decision process. This principle is premised above all on the recognition that expeditionary force is disruptive, disjunctive, a breach of order. It is not a form of police work; it is destabilizing, and while it may sometimes be necessary, is not to be undertaken lightly.
There is much more and it is well worth your time. We have some serious choices to make about how the US will act on the world stage. Obama would have us sing fifth tenor, or better yet serve as stage hands. Seems kind of a waste, eh?