American military might was crucial to the Allies’ victory in World War II. But so were the military efforts of Great Britain, the Soviet Union, China, and others. America was cemented as the single “indispensable nation,” because America led the efforts that won the peace.
America became pre-eminent by championing the Marshall Plan, the United Nations, the International Declaration of Human Rights, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and other internationalist institutions. While not entirely benign, these efforts created a stable international system that allowed respect for human rights, self-governance, and free exchanges of ideas and goods to flourish, helping to lift billions out of misery.