The end of the Cold War has brought about what sort of change in the president's international role?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The end of the Cold War has brought about some decline in the president’s (and the United States’) international role.  This decline happened because the US lost its standing as the leader of anti-communism in the world.  

During the Cold War, the US was the undisputed leader of the “free world.”  Most of the countries of the world that did not want to become communist were willing to recognize the US as their leader.  They knew that it was important to follow the US if they wanted to avoid becoming communist.  These countries decided that any objections they had to US leadership were much less important than their desire to be protected by the United States.  Because the president was the leader of this extremely powerful country, he played a major international role.  He could almost dictate to the leaders of other free world countries because of his country’s power.

With the end of the Cold War, this went away to some degree.  Of course, the US still has more economic, military, and diplomatic power than any other country.  However, most other countries have much less incentive to follow the lead of the US today.  A country may have an incentive to stick close to the US if, for example, it fears the rise of China, but this is not something that concerns all countries around the world.  In today’s world, the differences that countries have with the US are often greater than their need for the US’s help.  This means that the president is no longer able to tell other countries’ leaders what to do.

In this way, the end of the Cold War has diminished the president’s international role.  It has reduced US presidents’ ability to dictate other countries’ actions and to expect cooperation from other countries in all circumstances.  The president today has to try harder to persuade other countries to follow the lead of the US. 

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