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From left to right, U.S. haunted by 'decline of empire'

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In the annals of history, new powers have challenged the old on blood-soaked battlefields, in chandelier-decked negotiating rooms and through the brandishing of ahead-of-the-curve technology.

And then there's Muscatine, Iowa, a quiet town on the Mississippi River once home to Mark Twain.

When Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visited Muscatine in February, he was seizing on his connection to the town forged during a study excursion 27 years earlier to stage a made-for-television U.S. trip.

While his tone was friendly, the visit may eventually be remembered as a historical marker -- Xi is expected to become China's top leader next year and, sometime during his presidency, his country is forecast to surpass the United States as the world's largest economy.

Behind the ubiquitous red-white-and-blue flags that proudly dot the American landscape, a passionate debate is under way on whether the United States has already seen its best days.

The United States is saddled with historic debt after a decade of war and the Great Recession yet leaders are rarely able to agree on much other than that the political system is dysfunctional. Unemployment rates in recent years have been at their worst in three decades and income inequality is by some accounts at modern highs.

For a tangible case study in the theory of decline, one need only fly from an aging US airport to one of Asia's glittering new air hubs.

And yet students from around the world flock to U.S. universities. Few objective observers can argue that the country that invented the airplane, the Internet and "The Simpsons" is short of innovation and creativity.

And that is to say nothing of the staggering gap in military spending between the United States and every other country.

Sole, indispensable power

Talk of US decline is hardly new -- the Vietnam War and Japan's meteoric economic rise were also both, to some eyes, the beginning of the end of the American moment. And yet the question is shaping out to be a defining national debate in this election year.

Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee to seek the White House, has relentlessly attacked President Barack Obama for what he charges is a focus on managing decline instead of asserting the "exceptionalism" of the United States.

In the early days of the Obama administration, some aides -- while careful not to assert that the United States was in decline -- said they were studying the lessons of previous global transitions, such as the US eclipse of Britain as the top power a century ago, in hopes of avoiding conflict with China.

That tone has changed. In January, Obama said that his commitment to working with other nations had restored "a sense of America as the sole, indispensable power."

In a recent speech, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a robust defence of an active U.S. role in the world and assured that 2012 "is not 1912", when friction between a declining Britain and a rising Germany set the stage for global conflict.

Decline has also become a favorite theme for prominent U.S. scholars. In new books, Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution and former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski both argue that U.S. decline is exaggerated and that the world is far better off with a strong United States.

Yet whatever the reality, the very perception of U.S. decline has effects. In a widely read recent essay, Wang Jisi, one of China's top experts on the United States, said that Chinese policymakers are convinced of U.S. decline and increasingly see U.S. actions -- even longstanding policies such as urging more respect for human rights and selling weapons to Taiwan -- as signs of a diminished power trying to keep down a rising China.

China seen from Iowa

Which brings us back to Iowa. Despite all of the historic talk of China's rise and America's fall, the people of Muscatine expressed views that are arguably more nuanced than those of many politicians. Numerous people in the town of 23,000 said that they had visited China, either for work or study, and the local high school offers instruction in Mandarin.

When I asked residents about China, several voiced concern about human rights in the communist state but just as many saw China's economic growth as beneficial. No one, when asked, seemed to be losing sleep about China overtaking the United States.

Muscatine is not a fluke. Recent nationwide surveys have shown that more Americans than not believe that China will replace the United States as the top power. Yet polls also consistently show that most Americans see China favourably.

With a population more than four times that of the United States and consecutive years of rapid growth, it would seem inevitable that China will emerge as the world's largest economy.

Yet even many Chinese support a strong United States -- if nothing else, as a consumer market for its products. On the other side of the Pacific, meanwhile, any leader who openly renounces the country's role as a world leader is seen as committing political suicide.

And so, regardless of Americans' boundless self-confidence and Xi Jinping's conciliatory words, the United States and China seem destined for more friction, not necessarily on the battlefield or even in the marketplace, but in beneath-the-surface moments in quiet places like Muscatine.

The idea of U.S. decline is hotly contested, but the debate itself is at no risk of declining.

© 2012 AFP

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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sfjp330Jun. 09, 2012 - 06:46AM JST Wanda-kunJun . . . If you didn't know, China is already doing that. China will equal U.S. in R&D investments in ten years to around $600-$700 billion annually. Nothing symbolizes China's drive to be a dominant player in the tech world more than the giant technology park in Beijing that has some of China's biggest tech companies.

China may get there yet, but presently the Chinese are doing no meaningful original research or design. China's modus oporendi has been to, not unlike Japan about 50 years ago, "borrow" or, at best, reverse engineer European, American or Japanese technology. Their home-built aircraft are copies of Boeing and Airbus and their "gee whiz" trains are copies of German and Japanese.

China's universities, by most accounts, are second rate at best. Again, you can turn about as many engineers as you like, but if they are second rate to being with and really don't have anything meaningful work, they are just one more member of the under or unemployed.

China had surpassed South Korea and Europe in total patents and closing in on the U.S. and Japan. However, China's most successful companies to date have proved at mimicking an existing technology or business model than creating breakthrough innovations. They still have some ways to go.

The factoid about patents is precious since the Chinese have zero respect for intellectual property rights and they have a lot more than "some ways to go" as a technological power and unless they liberalize their society, they'll be like a better healed version of the Soviet Union, but never innovative or sustainable.

China's looking at serious, can't suppress the news social unrest in the next decade as it's still export dominant economy cannot make the leap to domestic consumption at a sufficient level to make sure that too many Chinese aren't left behind.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

All empires has fallen. USA will be no exception.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Wanda-kunJun. 09, 2012 - 05:44AM JST. The only way nations like India and China can ever hope to absorb this surplus of skill is if they both embark on multiple government-sponsored programs with the sort of messianic zeal that the U.S. did with our space program.

If you didn't know, China is already doing that. China will equal U.S. in R&D investments in ten years to around $600-$700 billion annually. Nothing symbolizes China's drive to be a dominant player in the tech world more than the giant technology park in Beijing that has some of China's biggest tech companies. which includes more than 20,000 companies, is considered the world's largest government-backed technology innovation zone. Last year, China surpassed Japan as the second-highest funder of research and development.Though it still lags behind the U.S., it is gaining ground fast. The U.S. is forecast to spend about twice as more than China in R&D this year. Scare part of this is that in ten years, China will equal U.S. in R&D spending. China had surpassed South Korea and Europe in total patents and closing in on the U.S. and Japan. However, China's most successful companies to date have proved at mimicking an existing technology or business model than creating breakthrough innovations. They still have some ways to go.

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sfjp330Jun. 07, 2012 - 07:40AM JST What politicians are bemoaning is the loss of manufacturing jobs which require no more then a high school diploma. This is the real issue facing U.S., the lack of suffiently educated workforce to take up those new jobs at intel, microsoft, google, etc.

Actually, no. As Frank Vaughn notes, the U.S. universities are still the finest in the world. And while it's true that many of the advanced degrees go to foreign students who then take their talents home, there are more than enough home-grown mathematicians and engineers.

The fact of the matter is that many of the U.S. best tech companies (Google is not a tech company per se, though they are certainly trying to become one) prefer to hire foreign talent on H1 visas because they come cheap (racing to the bottom is not unique to low value added manufacturing/assembly). This is so important to Microsoft that it was the last thing Bill Gates personally lobbied Washington for on behalf of the company before effectively retiring.

Furthermore, scientist, engineers and mathematicians are, on the whole, a very productive class of labor, i.e. you don't need as many of them to get the work done (see Robert Reich's The Work of Nations for an explanation of this). Consider India and China, two countries often thought of as the U.S. potential replacements for economic leadership, for how this can go wrong. Both nations are turning out too many technical specialists. Like the old saw about guys with PhDs. in English driving cabs in NYC, well this is true as well in India, but they're technically trained. You can produce as many engineers, scientists and mathematicians as you like. But the laws of supply and demand still dictate how many of these highly-skilled people are actually needed in our, mostly, work-a-day world.

The only way nations like India and China can ever hope to absorb this surplus of skill is if they both embark on multiple government-sponsored programs with the sort of messianic zeal that the U.S. did with our space program. Only if both nation's governments decided to tackle agriculture, pollution, water supplies and energy with the sums of money and more that they both waste on their militaries could they hope to achieve full meaningful employment in the technical fields. Hoping that they otherwise can somehow get a leg up in manufacturing for consumer goods and services by producing all these techies is a pipe dream.

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sfjp330

The universities and colleges in the U.S. are turning out plenty of engineering and science (and similar) graduates, problem is a large percentage of them are foreign students who take that education back to their homelands.

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What politicians are bemoaning is the loss of manufacturing jobs which require no more then a high school diploma. This is the real issue facing U.S., the lack of suffiently educated workforce to take up those new jobs at intel, microsoft, google, etc. While it can't be argued that the number of college educated Americans has already risen increasingly over the last century, many of them are not choosing engineering, math, science, which will offer them better job prospects in the years to come. You can't design the factory machine which took your father's job, unless you choose to study engineering, etc. I wish all politicians will wake up to this fact and have that "straight talk" with their constituents. Recent presidents has tried to do that, but sometimes drowned out by the voices who would rather bicker about evolution vs. creationisms instead about worrying about their child's math scores The large companies only want people who have exactly the skills that the last guy had, and more.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Um, the United States is not an empire.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

America has been in economic decline, in relative and absolute terms, since the 1970s. Many people were predicting even greater decline in the early 80s when the economy was again in recession and federal debt was growing. We recovered from that and may do so yet again.

No one, particularly not the writer above, can predict "the end" of any empire. And the U.S., in spite of what idiots like Niall Ferguson may insist, is not an empire. We have been a hegemonic power since the end of WWII and remain one, if diminished. Currently, for good and ill, there are no other nations with the economic and military reach of the U.S.

What is necessary for a U.S. resurgence is a dramatically reduced military budget (we could cut ours in half and still have the most lethal with the longest reach), greater investment in public health and education. and a more progressive federal tax system. What happens vis-a-vis China is pretty immaterial and needn't be a zero sum game.

China's economy may continue to grow but, like India, the nation is so over-populated that only so much per capita economic growth can be expected without greater and more equitable legal strictures for running the country. It remains to be seen whether China can achieve this.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

All of this noise about who is or is going to be the top dog is mute.

Humans have lost control of their future as the developing environmental disaster will prove out. The only viable economic structure for a sustainable future is cottage industry trading in a circle of 250-400 miles, rather then great circle routes of higher and higher costs environmentally and financially. The resources just aren't out there to sustain 'world powers'.

Thinking, caring Americans are tired of our unrealistic, costly, unsustainable position in the world. It was all based on supporting our economy and corporations by controlling global resources and markets too the detriment of all peoples everywhere. China and India are now following that model to their end.

Earth will abide, will humans

Kudos to the many great comments here, especially Thomas Michael Lewis with his clear headed, unprejudiced, take no prisoners view.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

All the empires in human history have risen and fallen. There is no reason to believe that the "American Empire" will be any different. In every case the collapse of an Empire isn't attributed to any one single cause but to many causes. Americans believe their empire will not fall but then so did the Romans, The Spanish, the English, The Manchus and on and on. They all fell so will the present one. The laws of nature....what goes up must sooner or later come down.

Many Americans (as shown in the above comments) think that the Constitution will save the empire. Not to argue the merits of that document or any other historically important document but the people must be aware of the document for it to have power. A few years ago a bunch of high school students in Washington D.C. wrote up the Preamble of the Constitution in the form of a petition. They then went house to house asking the average citizen to sign the petition...almost no one would sign it. Many slammed the door in the kids' faces telling them that they would never sign such a subversive document, it must be some "commie" propaganda. No I doubt that any document will save the empire. When it's time to go it will go and, in all probability another will rise to take its place.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

REMzzz, does America really have free speech? Did America have free speech in the days of McCarthy? Were Americans free to advocate and support communism? Regarding the constitution, the Republican Govenrment under George Bush imprisoned people without trial, performed searches without warranted, eavesdropped and even tortured people while claiming to support freedom and democracy.

I said that even the most uninformed and uneducated believe in those basic rights. Whether they do anything to uphold and defend the Constitution is another matter. It's true that people have become complacent, expecting that someone else will protect their rights for them, for free. Sometimes it's true, like the times when ACLU steps up to defend someone, no mater how unpopular or unpalatable the subject is.

The thing is, we do still have the Constitution, and the stuff you've pointed out as a counter-argument isn't exactly legal, it's only allowed to stand until someone challenges it in the court of law. No one seems to have the guts and the conscience as of right now, but it doesn't take away the truth of the situation.

The Constitution is like the Statue of Liberty, a symbol, something that inspires. For the rest of the world, at least. Even if most Americans regard is as a convenient umbrella, or a hankie or a towel, to use when a need arises. Something can be holy to one person and utilitarian to the next, and the third only pretends to respect it when it suits them.

Human rights are a serious issue, no matter how you look at it. Take a look at Iran, China, and the majority of the former Soviet Union. It makes your hair stand up on end if you look deep enough, at things other than the GDP and the other finances.

In China, a few years ago a woman was forced to have an abortion on her delivery day, and the child was placed in a bucket of ice water to make sure she was dead. Not long ago, the Russian government expelled the entire staff of many foreign NGOs that provide free help for AIDS sufferers, provide free HIV testing and work to raise awareness. Needle exchanges have been criminalized, and there are harsher sentences for acquiring Methadone to recover from addiction than for consuming drugs on the street. In Iran, 2 years ago, peaceful protesters who were the first to stand up for common sense and inspired everyone else, were being arrested and executed for treason. They were young people in their teens and 20s.

That isn't my cup of tea, ok. I object to warrant-less wiretapping just as well, but it would be wrong for anyone to say that the Constitution hasn't given us anything.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Plan for the future, thats what Britain did, and now we have the Commonwealth of Nations

Oh yay, a group of nations united in their love for cricket and a common fashion sense in the law courts. Each begging for Chinese investment where the Japanese have abandoned around the mid 90s.

and let's not forget Japan, she will open her legs to the highest bidder.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Greece was an Empire once.

Imagine, all these Ivy League educated American people serving as personal assistants to wealthy and politically powerful Chinese people. Kind of like Greek slaves in the service of Roman patricians.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

"invented the airplane, the Internet" Erm no actually, there were almost dozens of other aeroplanes that flew before the Wright brothers, check the Wright brothers claim and it is a very long list of the "first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight" ergo, all of those had been done before in some form or another. The Internet is widely regarded as the World Wide Web, if you said Internet protocol Suite then fine, but the Internet as almost everyone recognises what it is -WWW- was by Tim Berners Lee at CERN.

Gaijinfo has a good point. Is it really pure chance that Saddam and Gaddafi were killed after many years "service" to the West, only when they started plans to trade Oil in Euros and Gold Dinars respectively. The Dollar would probably be in the Euros shoes right now had Saddam succeeded and turned Euros into the Oil currency, as many others planned to follow suite

Nothing is permanent and people are fooling themselves if they think the US will forever be number one, esp with things like Gauntanamo bay, the extortionate cost of healthcare and education, and the government constantly spying on its citizens it cannot last forever.

Plan for the future, thats what Britain did, and now we have the Commonwealth of Nations -though the damned EU has largely forced us to cut ties with it.

The West isnt in decline. Its merely fulfilled its potential, the East has yet to do that, and with millions more people it shouldnt surprise me if China became a bigger economy.

Question is, why do we rate GDP over everything. Better to be a poor Greek sitting in the Sun, than a wealthy Chinaman in a polluted city.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

there is no doubt that China will surpass the US as the world's #1 economy

Just like there was no doubt in people's minds back in the eighties that Japan would soon be #1. China is all smoke and mirrors. 40% of its GDP is government spending. They can't keep that up forever. Their fake money bubble will soon pop, just as Japan's did. The only reason the U.S. can keep printing money is that because the dollar is the world's reserve currency, the U.S. can effectively export all its inflation until that changes. And unless somebody comes up with another currency that's backed by something other than a printing press of a soon to be bankrupt government, that's not going to change any time soon. Especially since Saudia Arabia recently agreed to continue to only accept dollars for oil.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

REMzzz, does America really have free speech? Did America have free speech in the days of McCarthy? Were Americans free to advocate and support communism? Regarding the constitution, the Republican Govenrment under George Bush imprisoned people without trial, performed searches without warranted, eavesdropped and even tortured people while claiming to support freedom and democracy.

Yes they do. Senator McCarthy was an embarassing anomaly. Even his fellow supporters abandoned him when it became obvious what was going on. There are Communist Party candidates that run for office every election (but never get elected), I'd say that's being "free to advocate and support Communisim" in America.

As far as "Dubya", Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick "Don't Shoot Me, Bro!" Cheney... well we just have to learn from our mistakes as to what it means to hand a moron and his party too much power.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

REMzzz, does America really have free speech? Did America have free speech in the days of McCarthy? Were Americans free to advocate and support communism? Regarding the constitution, the Republican Govenrment under George Bush imprisoned people without trial, performed searches without warranted, eavesdropped and even tortured people while claiming to support freedom and democracy.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

per capita GDP of the US is still miles ahead of China, but again these economic indicators will never tell the true story of what is happening inside a country. The US has an utterly broken political system and the Chinese have an utterly broken social system

there is no doubt that China will surpass the US as the world's #1 economy and as a poster above pointed out, China has been the most powerful country in the world previous times. This is the ebb and flow of the world. In the past, empires would last for hundreds of years.. today, thanks to the speed of technology.. what are we seeing, 50 years tops?

I just hope that when China does become #1, it acts like a responsible nation, i.e not threatening its neighbours over resource reserves, free speech and all that

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This so-called "decline" isn't. America's GDP is still increasing. What's happening, though, is China's GDP is increasing at a faster rate and overtaking the U.S. Hence all the pundits wailing about "America's decline". Ask me if I'm worried about "America's decline". What I AM worried about is the national debt and how a certain political party refuses to allow all the tools available to fix the debt issue to be used. THAT is something to lose sleep over at night.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Auhh, the US as an empire is diminishing as she loses her grip on the dollar as the world trading currency. The only reason why the US was able to maintain her position was of the greenback being utilized as the sole trading currency and this was enforced by the US's constant intervention into region affairs after the end of the cold war.

The US's grip as a global power is fairly recent after the plaza agreement and the creation of OPEC when they signed that the sole transaction currency would be US dollar after that many commodity Bourse followed making the US dollar status quo as the world trading currency in which any and all nation wanting to purchase natural resources overseas required to purchase US dollars and any nation wanting to sell natural resources needs to sell the US dollar to purchase a foreign currency of need so they can purchase any kind of industrial goods over seas. SO the US dollar was in constant demand with a constant cash flow placing the US or more precisely US Federal Reserve Banks in center of global commerce.

The beginning of the end started with the second gulf war when Iraq tried to negotiate with Europe with the so called oil for food negotiation in which Iraq tried to negotiate with France to sell oil using the Euro circumventing the US dollar. After that the wall started tumbling down with the dollar tumbling down with it with Iran creating it's own oil Bourse offering to trade oil with Euro, Yen or US dollar. If there were to be the last nail to the coffin, I would say direct currency exchange like the Yen - Yuan direct exchange that started last week. If this becomes the norm then Wallstreet will be pulled down from the main solo to a mere position in the choir making it impossible to maintain it's position as the power house of the US economy.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

what the author means to say is that on the left the blue model of the massive welfare nanny state is dying; on the right the theocratic model of mohammedan social engineering is also doomed. and in the center is the United States, haunted by the lessons of modern history.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Greece was a bunch of City states that sometimes worked together.

Up until Alexander. Then it became a short-lived empire, though probably better referred to as Macedonian than Greek, but still, very much Hellenistic.

Probably the most surprising thing is that there are not a bunch of pundits here insisting that America is not an empire.

"A democracy is always temporary in nature;

And America is not really a democracy. But the human nature of the piece still holds, hardly matters the form of government. Somebody is going to have power and somebody is going to abuse it. Democracies, representative democracies, theocracies, communist states, monarchies, dictatorships, etc...they are all temporary for much the same reasons. The much maligned Soviet Union had great power as long as the people had spirit. When they lost that spirit, it fell.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Here is an essay from more than one hundred years ago, it appears to support this article.

In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh ,had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship."

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to complacency; From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage."

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul , Minnesota believes the United States is now somewhere between the "complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

Then on the lighter side, my wife was watching a Russian economic program much like CNBC. She started laughing herself silly at something one of the analyst had said. When she regained her composure she told me that he had said:

The Russian optimist is learning to speak English. The pessimist is learning Chinese. The realist is learning how to use a Kalashnikov. (AK-47 riffle)

But personally I hope the article and essay are wrong.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@JapanGal, no it was not, the Roman empire was, Greece was a bunch of City states that sometimes worked together.

Well it is clear that America' economic power is in decline, and it will have an impact on it's millitary if they do not address this issue.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Greece was an Empire once.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The more advanced society becomes, the faster empires fall. The civilized world is indeed on an unsustainable path, and when the end comes, there will be a lot of people that suffer. Anybody that depends on the government for their job, either directly or indirectly, or their retirement, either directly or indirectly, will suffer some fairly painful financial suffering.

When it comes is anybody's guess, but it's gonna be a doozy when it does.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The writer seems to think that economy is the defining factor in empire. Well, its not. There is also the holding of strategic location, political alliances, the skills and ability of your people, alliegiance of your people to the country and the empire, how well equipped and trained the military is and ability to deliver that military where needed.

Its not so much that America has declined as China has risen anyway. It does not bode well that America is so deep in debt, among other economic problems, but there are peaks and troughs in stability too. Best not to make too much of them.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I like your analysis, tkoind2

While China can surpass anyone with the sheer scale of its economy and the size of its population, the US still has something more valuable, even if intangible, the Constitution. Even the most uneducated believe in free speech and the basic freedoms. Social prejudices and economic obstacles obviously exist in the real world but the Idea lives on, as a symbol and a reminder..

The problem is that many people in the developed world have become complacent and the "mass production" bee hive society doesn't give any stimulus to be different or innovative. But the biggest problem is "slum culture". It unfortunately sells and creeps upward. Slum culture has replaced working class culture in many countries, and has also made a foothold in middle class society, being accepted as normal. China is one of the only few countries that hasn't allowed that to happen.

I'm awfully sleepy right now, but i can elaborate if anything is not clear. The slum culture takes away the dignity of human existence...

1 ( +4 / -3 )

If you read history you will quickly find that the mainstream take on reality is very often wrong. Few writers have the vision to see the wide range of variables that will define the coming future.

There are many writers who expect China to imploder under their own issues, economic bubbles, a growing disaffected rural class, rising demand for liberty in conflict with rising desire to maintain governement control over political thought. The future for China is clearly on the upswing, but the sustainability of that is anything but clear.

The US on the other hand is still a key player. Event if surpassed, it will be the second most important economy and probably still the first most important military power on the planet.

Sadly I think Europe and Japan are facing greater decline. And nearly all of the world is facing the very real danger of losing more liberty.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

The US will end up as a two-tiered society.

A superclass of ultra-elite and masses of poor people down below them.

Separating the two and protecting the elite from trouble will be massive US police state apparatus, a la TSA checkpoints, Homeland Security and the drones which are now being tested and used in Pakistan.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Empires come and go and the US is no exception. They are clearly a empire in decline which in some ways is a good thing for peace as declining empire sreturn to their own borders. Having the biggest army or navy does not make you a world leader.

It will probably come as a surprise to many Americans to learn that China has been a "world leader" 4 (or is it 5) times in their history.

0 ( +4 / -3 )

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