April 10, 2019 (Washington, D.C.)— In the 1990s, when the diplomat Richard Holbrooke ended a war in the Balkans with the signing of the Dayton Accords, American influence seemed poised to reach new heights. The superpower had brought peace to Bosnia after years of civil war, and the country was poised to build on that success under President Bill Clinton. But instead of leading the world in the decades since, American influence began to decline.
In “Elegy for the American Century” appearing as the cover of The Atlantic’s May issue, staff writer George Packer reports on the long, slow deterioration of American global influence. He explains how the foreign policy decisions of presidential administrations in the past two decades have led the United State to retreat into “a nationalism whose ugliness more and more reminds me of Balkan politics.” Through the story of Holbrooke’s work to bring peace to Bosnia in 1995, Packer illustrates the power of American muscle at the bargaining table, and looks at what is lost when America decides to leave the world alone. The cover, adapted from his forthcoming book, OUR MAN: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century, is published now at TheAtlantic.com, and will be available on newsstands April 23.