Wallerstein on what if the US is neither feared nor loved

In Chapter 17 of The Prince, Machiavelli writes:

“Returning to the question of being feared or loved, I come to the conclusion that, men loving according to their own will and fearing according to that of the prince, a wise prince should establish himself on that which is in his own control and not in that of others; he must endeavour only to avoid hatred, as is noted.”

This last part is generally omitted when people insist that it is better to be feared than to be loved. The danger for the United States is that they way it has fought the recent wars has excited hatred in much of the world, and hatred is a force that can be used to override fear.

Now Immanuel Wallerstein raises a related and more terrifying question for the United States.

“The CFR [Council on Foreign Relations] published a commentary on the poll by three of its Fellows – Lee Feinstein, James M. Lindsay, and Max Boot. Here is their analysis:

These disparities suggest something deeper than divisions over the Iraq war are at work. Bush supporters and Kerry supporters are taking sides in the longstanding debate over the relative importance of ‘hard’ versus ‘soft’ power. Will the U.S. be safer and more prosperous if it is feared, or if it is loved? Are America’s military strength, and the willingness to use it, what count most, or is America’s reputation abroad equally important?

I believe that this commentary is correct, but it evades an important analytic question, which seems to have escaped the attention of the three CFR Fellows, and probably of the large bulk of the American population.

Suppose the United States is neither feared nor loved? Is this credible? And if so, what are the implications of such a view of the U.S. by people elsewhere for war and peace, geopolitical realignments, and the U.S. view of itself in the decades to come?” (My emphasis. Read on, here.)