Is America in Decline?


In recent posts, here and here, I have been discussing some of the big challenges facing the United States:

  • We have huge economic strengths (world’s largest economy) and, at the same time, huge economic weaknesses (massive and rapidly growing debt).
  • A chaotic Middle East (four civil wars going on, a refugee crisis swamping Europe, drone strikes against terrorists) with no coherent strategy to address the overall problem.
    Capture6A new book by Ian Bremmer, “ Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World” considers America’s various options for future leadership.  Says Mr. Bremmer:
  • Even though our foreign policy is in decline, America itself is not in decline. Our per- capita income is eight times China’s, our biggest rival. We have an entrepreneurial culture which is the envy of the world. More than 30% of all money spent on research and innovation in 2014, some $465 billion, was spent in the U.S. Nowhere is the American capacity for innovation more obvious than in energy production, the lifeblood of economic growth.
  • Another crucial advantage is that time is on America’s side. Europe, Japan and China are all aging much more quickly than the U.S.
  • Seventeen of the world’s top twenty research universities are based in the U.S. But 40% of the people receiving advanced STEM degrees from American universities are foreign nationals with no legal way to stay here. We should fix this problem!
  • More and more Americans are tired of spending so much blood and treasure on overseas problems. The central flaw in our current strategy, they say, is that we have no real priorities. But they mostly recognize that America can never really be safe in an unsafe world.

Conclusion. Along with its many daunting challenges, the U.S. also has many strengths and will likely remain the world’s primary superpower for many years to come.  But the U.S. needs to develop a more widely acceptable strategy for projecting economic and military strength around the world.  Worldwide peace and stability depend on us getting the job done right.

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