Data point: last month, the group SustainAbility polled their network on the most important emerging challenges to sustainability. Their answers?
"In the short to medium term, the stance of the US and more particularly of President Bush - on issues like security, climate change and sustainable development
"In the medium to long term, the impact of China and other emerging economies on the ability of developed world businesses not only to compete but also address the growing range of corporate responsibility and sustainability priorities."
(The whole series of answers to their query is worth a read if you're interested in these questions.)
In discussions with Indian leaders and economists, their answer to this question was a definitive end to the political arms race that diverted attention away from the needs of the people to invest in rabid militarization. The US was setting this tone around the world.
Unfortunately, we don't just set the tone. We often supply the arms.