The year 2013 has been a good one for autocrats. In Egypt, a military dictatorship seized power from a democratically elected government and has been crushing opposition. In Syria, the Assad regime survived probably its greatest challenge and may continue in power indefinitely. In Burma, a potential political opening has been left dangling, while in Thailand, a fledgling democracy is under siege. In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega is consolidating his hold on power, while the Venezuelan dictatorship has seemingly outlived its founder. Events in 2014 will tell us whether this was coincidence or a trend. If the latter, it may be a foretaste of the much-anticipated ‘post-American world.’
If you take the Syria issue which is before us right now, what people are waiting for is for the United States to step up and start pulling everyone together. And what's been missing has been the United States playing that role.