Woody Allen and America's Declining Power to Persuade

The ability to persuade foreign leaders, particularly those who are allies, to support the U.S., both in big issues such as the war in Iraq, and more specific issues such as combating terrorism in one place or not initiating conflict, is a key piece of U.S. foreign policy. The ability to persuade rests on the critical assumption that there are benefits to helping the U.S. and costs to not doing that. These costs and benefits, however, need to be moderate in nature. A foreign policy that, for example, sought to cut off all assistance to countries that did not support the U.S. on everything would be bullying and ineffective. Similarly, it is essential to recognize that sometimes allies will have legitimate interests that differ from those of the U.S.