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These Colors Do Run? Is the USA No Longer a Superpower?

Is America place at the head of the class, finished? Well-known intellectuals, think tank thunkers, and MSM elite seem to think so.

Citing headlines from the Times asking "who shrunk the superpower?" to Fareed Zakaria's book, The Post-American World, and the French foreign minister saying of America's standing, “The magic is over . . . It will never be as it was before." It seems like a logical conclusion: The US Party of A is over. Take the streamers down.

But! According to this piece in World Affairs it's not the first time such talk has been bandied about, and it's hardly cause for panic.

The United States does contend with serious problems at home and abroad, but these prophecies of doom, which spread like a computer virus, hardly reflect a rational appraisal of where we stand. Moreover, it is not too difficult to see the ghosts of declinism past in the current rush to pen America’s epitaph. Gloomsayers have been with us, after all, since this country’s founding.

Though it sure seems like the drumbeat of America fading is a new millennial challenge, it's not. It reared up in the late-18th century from royalists, the 1920s and 30s from fascists, the 1970s from similar challenges to the ones the country is facing today (shored up by Jimmy Carter's malaise speech) and became terribly chic in the 1980s. Bashing America's standing is in like shoulder pads.

Are the "declinists," pointing to the Bush doctrine, over-stretched military, and squashed economy right — is the US out of first place? Or is history just repeating itself?


Join The Conversation
samantha999 samantha999 9 years
The benefit of globalization is better communication and a chance to try something we might not have here. To be explorers without leaving home turf. It has nothing to do an ideal to helping others it has to do with exploiting. We put our own people out of work so that someone who is willing to work a lot cheaper does. Not better, just cheaper. It has always been about the bottom line, share holders and the whispered numbers of wall street.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Thanks for the clarification stephley. I always wondered where the phrase "superpower" came from.
stephley stephley 9 years
Many credit the coining of Superpower to an American professor in the 1940s. Either way, it's not a term that 'we never called ourselves."
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
That is a benefit of globalization. When there was a strong American sentiment within the US, outsourcing for a larger dividend was unthinkable. Now the bottom line is the is the only consideration. We've opened the global market with the humanistic ideal of helping the world "develope", but in the end, it only hurts the only superpower.
samantha999 samantha999 9 years
Superpower was given to US and Russia by the Euro press prior to the cold war. We've been stuck with it ever since. Russia no longer holds the title and China will soon. The only reason we are outsourcing is due to the cheap foreign labor. An engineer in India earns about 25-30% of what an American engineer would. Basic economics - bigger profits for the greedy corporations. How many times have you had to hang up with some customer service because of the accent?
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I'm curious, does anyone else see this as another biproduct of globalism. Of course the US is going to shrink while the rest of the world catches up. The US is "outsourcing" jobs and technology in the name of globalizing our economy. If we kept our jobs at home, we would profit, but at the rest of the world's expense. What is more palatable here? IMO, I'd rather be a superpower.
stephley stephley 9 years
We've called ourselves a, and often The, Superpower for decades - it's grossly untrue to say otherwise.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
We call it defense, but it's turning more into offense.
samantha999 samantha999 9 years
We never called ourselves a superpower. Everyone else did and it stuck. As for Europeans working together....NOT. They are splintering over issues and are being eaten from the inside out. Immigration, people's parties, medicine, rising crime & islam. Having been on the other side of the pond every time I come home and customs ask "anything to declare" I always reply "YES, its great to home!" Europe will always look down at us until they screw something up and need us to fix it.
snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 9 years
It still has a lot of power, because of its defense. But with the growing economic problems, there might be less funding for that soon.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
I have no propblem with Europe, I just like America more. And as an American who likes America, I'd like it to still BE America and NOT be Europe. If I wanted to live in Europe, I would. But I don't, at least not for my whole life, so thats why I live in America.
Brendelwoman Brendelwoman 9 years
I don't understand why you would answer for someone else, Rac.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
Haha, I didn't think comment #26 would go unanswered.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 9 years
:notworthy: :jumpin: :notworthy:
syako syako 9 years
socialism is what is wrong about becoming more european. I don't need others answering for me, thank you very much.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 9 years
I think if you (universal you) hate our country and aren't willing to do anything but b*tch about it, then leave. See where else you will enjoy living.
Roarman Roarman 9 years
I don't think we are a superpower and I don't see that we are a leader in anything? Nor do I think there is much to be jealous of. We are a nation of ever growing poverty, we produce nothing, we have abysmal education and health care systems. Out priorities are really screwed up.
pequeña pequeña 9 years
Thanks for explaining raciccarone!
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
When you're American, the idea of the European is scary because it means having to work more communally with your neighbors. Because resources are more scarce, people have to work together more and with less. In America, that idea is terrifying to us. We are bred on the idea that you can have as much as you want whenever you want it and you don't need to share. That's really not a put down, I actually believe that's an American psychological trait.
pequeña pequeña 9 years
syako and cabaker, what is wrong about becoming more european?
amybdk amybdk 9 years
"I think we need to worry less about our superpower status and more about the realities of the challenges we're facing." EXACTLY! JudeC.... I'm obsessed with your comments.
XSofieX XSofieX 9 years
WHY all this "war-like" talk??? Seriously HOW is the US in the lead and why is it so important for you guys to maintain that illusion?? By what standards are you judging other countries and why can't the US just exist among other strong countries such as India and China and appreciate a more diverse and strong world rather than declare jealousy and hatred among foreigners??? Really, this is stupid
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
We will always have periodic challenges. This is one of those times. It doesn't mean we're down for the count; historically, we've always risen to challenges with aplomb. (I'm not as confident in our current generation, though.) So who else is as much of a world leader or influencer as the US? China? Russia? The UK? All have major problems of their own, and are having problems dealing with them. GS: "Our country is being destroyed from the inside. It is damn depressing." Absolutely. We're being eaten away by traitors and invaders, and there doesn't seem to be any recognition of what's happening or what the long-term effects may be.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
Is this a race? I agree completely with Jude C, I don't think the US should judge their power relative to that of the other countries, but should worry more about how well it is providing for its citizens by having a strong economy and good security.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
I think we need to worry less about our superpower status and more about the realities of the challenges we're facing. If there really is any loss in our superpower status, overcoming the problems we have now and adapting to the changes in the world order will surely win it back, and perhaps on better footing than before.
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