So much for "soft power," "smart power," and "resets." The fact is, America is in a decline by choice and most foreign leaders recognize it.
Australia's foreign minister privately warned Sunday that foreign leaders see "America in decline," Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said.
Romney said he met with Foreign Minister Bob Carr in a San Francisco hotel Sunday night shortly before a Republican fundraiser.
He said Carr suggested that America could improve that international perception "with one budget deal" that helps balance the budget.
"And this idea of America in decline, it was interesting [Carr] said that; he led the talk of American being in decline," Romney said at the fundraiser, according to The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. "And if they're thinking about investing in America, entrepreneurs putting their future in America -- if they think America's in decline they're not gonna do it."
The foreign minister requested the private meeting, a Romney spokesman said. The campaign would not say whether the two discussed foreign policy.
Romney is scheduled to launch his first trip abroad as his party's presumptive presidential nominee later this week. He's set to meet with leaders in England, Israel and Poland.
Barack Obama has said many times that America should be "first among equals" in the world. He's done a fine job of making that promise a reality. The question is, what can Mitt Romney do if he's elected to change that?
Well, I doubt whether Romney would "lead from behind." And he would rely less on the circus at the United Nations. What is needed is the application of a little common sense -- and some realistic notions of how power is used in the world.
As for the rest, a balanced budget, control over our fiscal situation, and some solid economic growth will go a long way toward erasing the "America in decline" meme.