World War II, ending in 1945, produced two truly victorious nations, the Soviet Union of Joseph Stalin and the America of Harry Truman.
Out of the Cold War that lasted from Truman to the disintegration of the Soviet Empire and breakup of the Soviet Union at the end of Ronald Reagan's term came a lone victor: the last superpower, the United States.
Who emerged triumphant from the post-Cold War era, 1991-2011?
Indisputably, it is China, whose 10-12 percent annual growth vaulted her past Italy, France, Britain, Germany and Japan to become the world's second largest economy and America's lone rival for first manufacturing power.
If we use a metric called "purchasing power parity," China overtakes America in 2016. Says the International Monetary Fund, the American era is over.
Strategically, too, the United States seems in retreat, nowhere more so than in that region that was the focus of George W. Bush's "global democratic revolution." And no nation reflects more the relative loss of U.S. power and influence than does Israel, whose isolation is today unprecedented.
A decade ago, Turkey, a NATO ally of 50 years, was a quiet friend and partner to Israel. Today, the Palestinians in Gaza view the Turks as among their staunchest friends in the Middle East.
President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt scrupulously adhered to the terms of his predecessor's peace treaty with Israel and maintained the western end of the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Since he fell, the interim Egyptian regime has midwifed a unity government of Fatah and Hamas, moved to establish diplomatic relations with Tehran for the first time since the fall of the Shah and begun to lift the Gaza blockade. September's elections are almost guaranteed to deliver to parliament a huge if not controlling bloc from the Muslim Brotherhood.
While the Brotherhood appears to be the strongest party in Egypt, it has held back from openly seeking the presidency or absolute power in the legislature. It appears to be playing a waiting game. After them, us.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader who had looked to President Obama to bring a halt to new Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and preside over peace talks, appears to have given up on the Americans.
Though the beneficiary of hundreds of millions in U.S. aid, he has entered a coalition with his old enemy Hamas, and together -- if they can stay together -- they plan to seek recognition of an independent Palestine by vote of the U.N. General Assembly in September.
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