David Rothkopf asks a great question this morning which can seemingly serve a larger purpose than he intends. American fatalism , or rather defeatism, is pervasive. People of all political leanings call for the decline of American hegemony, the rise of a new global order, the end of the West. But are these fears well founded?
The “decline” syndrome is cyclical, coming around every 10 years or so. Just like a person who faces existential questions at big points during their personal life, such as turning 30. As America faces uncertainty and challenge people are quick to prophesies the great end of American well-being. During the Cold War, it was the USSR who was bound to out-pace U.S. military production. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Japan was going to win the race in the production of information technology. In 2001 it was al-Qaida, and in 2011 it is China.
As we enter a heated political season, politicians and commentators will undoubtedly use the “golden-era” effect to earn cheap points by hearkening back to some earlier rose-colored decade where America had no enemies and everyone had white picket fences. But in reality this was never the case. America has had no golden years. For the past century, the only certainty in our world has been that America faces enemies, domestic and foreign, as well as economic uncertainty. But that is no reason to sour on the idea of our future.
Just because the next 10 years might be different, certainly does not mean they will be worse. America is emerging into a new century whilst ending two foreign wars, battling through a tough economic recession and dealing with long-term debt issues. In my honest opinion, the next 5-10 years look pretty bright, as we will take a national pause, collect ourselves, regroup and reassess. Try not to throw your chips into the ring with the moral declinists. The great thing about America is it’s always morning.