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.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Der Spiegel on "A Superpower in Decline"

Sometimes the most clear-eyed analysis of the United States comes from outside the country, and this may be especially true in these times when so many Americans are frightened and angry about the way things are going. Germany's weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel has published a long and thoughtful piece about the United States, entitled "A Superpower in Decline: Is the American Dream Over?" which reflects and updates many of the themes I raised in The End of the American Century.

For those who would dismiss Spiegel's analysis as biased, left-wing, or "socialist," I should point out that the magazine is generally considered to have a conservative (and capitalist!) slant. It is enlightening, and a little sobering, to read an intelligent analysis of our problems from outside the cauldron of contemporary U.S. politics.

Below are a few excerpts from the Spiegel article, though I would encourage everyone to read the whole thing.

• America has long been a country of limitless possibility. But the dream has now become a nightmare for many. The US is now realizing just how fragile its success has become -- and how bitter its reality. Should the superpower not find a way out of crisis, it could spell trouble ahead for the global economy.

• Americans have lived beyond their means for decades. It was a culture long defined by a mantra of entitlement, one that promised opportunities for all while ignoring the risks.

• The country is reacting strangely irrationally to the loss of its importance -- it is a reaction characterized primarily by rage. Significant portions of America simply want to return to a supposedly idyllic past.

• The rich keep getting richer, with the top 0.1 percent of income earners making more money than the 120 million people at the bottom of the income scale.

• Since the beginning of the millennium, no new jobs are being created on balance, because the US economy has undergone structural change. Companies are dominated by investors interested only in the kinds of quick and large profits that can be achieved by reducing the workforce.

• In 1978, the average income for men in the United States was $45,879. In 2007, it was $45,113, adjusted for inflation.

• How strong is the cement holding together a society that manically declares any social thinking to be socialist?

• The United States of 2010 is a country that has become paralyzed and inhibited by allowing itself to be distracted by things that are, in reality, not a threat: homosexuality, Mexicans, Democratic Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, health care reform and Obama.

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