Is This The End of the American Century?

This site features updates, analysis, discussion and comments related to the theme of my book published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2008 (hardbound) and 2009 (paperbound).

The Book

The End of the American Century documents the interrelated dimensions of American social, economic, political and international decline, marking the end of a period of economic affluence and world dominance that began with World War II. The war on terror and the Iraq War exacerbated American domestic weakness and malaise, and its image and stature in the world community. Dynamic economic and political powers like China and the European Union are steadily challenging and eroding US global influence. This global shift will require substantial adjustments for U.S. citizens and leaders alike.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Canadian Perspectives on "The End of the American Century"

Perhaps it is not so surprising that I have gotten more reactions to my book from outside the U.S. than inside it--especially from Canada. I have been interviewed on Canadian national television and radio, and have received more emails about the book from Canada than from any other country (including the U.S.).

The following is a recent email from Ann Ridyard from Montreal, who is a retired manager with a manufacturing company. Her thoughts, I venture to say, reflect those of many from north of the border. She gave me permission to post this, with her name. My responses to her points are indicated in brackets [].

Dr. Mason,

I finished reading your superb book The End of the American Century recently
and I wanted to write to thank you for publishing such a well-documented and
interesting book. You put into words all my thoughts and observations
concerning life in America at the beginning of this century.

As a Canadian living in Montreal, I feel that I received better information
from non-U.S. based media outlets than you did in the USA during the Bush
years. I was elated when Mr. Obama was elected as the new President, his
arrival could not have arrived at a better time.

I would like to offer a few comments.

1- Chapter 8, the World Sours on the US: I believe that most people felt
that the first Bush presidency was stolen from Al Gore. Furthermore, Bush
was still an unknown quantity. However, when Bush was re-elected for a
second term after the invasion of Iraq and the discovery not of weapons of
mass destruction but rather the discovery of Bush/Cheney lies, most
non-Americans were astounded and that caused the 'souring' to extend to the
American people at large.

[I had a similar response, Ann. I thought it was bad enough that this playboy millionaire was elected in the first place. It was his re-election in 2004 that prompted my writing of this book. See my earlier post on "The End of America's Shame")]

2- Military service was obligatory for many years and obeying a superior
officer was drummed into the population. This respect and blind obedience
to authority could be a reason why the people believe the president no
matter what.

[I am also astounded by the tendency of the public--and the media--to blindly accept whatever the president has to say. But I don't think obligatory military service explains this, since the military draft in the U.S. was ended in 1973. In my view, which I discuss in my book, it is the poor state of public education in the U.S., which erodes the ability of Americans to think critically about public affairs, and to effectively evaluate data and evidence]

3- This is just a thought, but could it be that keeping a large segment of
the population in poverty assures that there will always be an ample supply
of soldiers?

[I do not think there is any conspiracy here to stimulate the flow of young people into the military by keeping people poor. But I do think that the high rates of poverty, and the poor career prospects for many young people, does lead them into the military]

4- I believe that the G.W. Bush presidency came as close to a disguised
dictatorship as it could get. It is fortunate that the presidency is
limited to two terms, if not for that, I think Bush would have tried to
steal it another time. We all breathe easier now that Mr. Obama is

[I agree! G.W. Bush, with his abuse of executive authority and of fundamental human and Constitutional rights--especially habeas corpus--took us farther away from democratic politics than we have been in many generations. Obama is, indeed, a breath of fresh air!]

Once again, thank you for your fine book, I have recommended it to family
and friends. I continue to read and reflect on your comments posted on the
'endoftheamericancentury' website.

Yours truly,

Ann Ridyard

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