US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice says the coming of an Asian century with the rise of India and China does not mean the beginning of an era of American decline.
"The international system today is experiencing a degree of transformation that defies precedent," she said citing "the rise of China and India, the growth of truly global labour and capital markets, the spread of technology, massive new migrations of people, environmental challenges like global climate change."
"Developments like these are remaking our world before our very eyes. At the same time, all of this change brings with it a sense of uncertainty, of instability, feelings that I know are very real for Americans today," Rice said at the women's foreign policy group annual luncheon here Monday.
"Today, our society and economy are in the midst of a tectonic shift from an industrial to an information-based order. Globalisation is creating unprecedented opportunities, but many Americans still do not feel that they are sharing in them," she said.
"All of this is contributing to a sense of uncertainty, a concern that changes and developments abroad might not be helping us here at home. This is even leading some to speculate that we are entering an era of American decline," Rice said.
"This mood of decline hangs over some of those articles and news reports that we see daily about the rise of others: China; of India; the coming of a so-called Asian century. We are to believe that America has had a good run, but maybe it's all downhill from here," she said.
"Well, I don't believe that at all," Rice said. The US "desire to get in the game and not sit on the sidelines has always been our national disposition. It is our way of thinking about the world that we look to the future with hope, not with fear, as something that we will shape, not submit to."
"In every era, America has found the power to renew itself and to succeed," she said offering a prescription of "our unique form of American realism, with our ideals" to address these challenges.
Describing it as a task of "crucial importance" Rice suggested that the US "expand the circle of well-governed states that enshrine liberty under the rule of law, that create opportunities for their people, and that act responsibly in the international system."
"America cannot do this for other countries, nor should we," She said. "But we can help and we must help and we are helping. We are working with our friends and allies. We are drawing upon the full spectrum of our national power.
"We are creating incentives that reward and encourage political and economic reform. And we are doing this in a uniquely American way: American realism," Rice said.
Describing trade as not only critical for its economic success, but it as a vital tool of US foreign policy, Rice said Washington was using free trade to expand opportunity and prosperity for people worldwide.
With Asia changing dramatically and "new despots in Latin America want(ing) to drag that region back into authoritarianism," she said, "Our free trade agreements will help key allies to become democratic anchors of regional and global stability."
The US was also using its foreign assistance to promote good governance and to fight poverty, Rice said. "Finally, with American realism, we are using all elements of our power to help states transform, because in the face of violent enemies those who seek freedom need more than persuasion to prevail."
In all of these endeavours, the US "is joining great power with great purpose, and we are writing a new chapter in the history of American realism," Rice said.