Dr. Timothy Lynch, Professor in American Politics and the Associate Dean in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne. In 2022, he will be the Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of Wyoming, researching 'red state' foreign policy. Author of in the Shadow of the Cold War: American Foreign Policy from George Bush Sr. to Donald Trump.
Every day we come across numerous articles and political commentaries asserting that America is in decline. Terms like the “new world order”, referring to a world where United States is no longer the sole hegemon, have become ubiquitous. Foreign policy wonks churn out reports on how their nations should prepare for the imminent bipolar world or multipolar world. For those on the political Right, US has gone too far from its roots chasing political correctness and this has precipitated its fall. And for those on the Left, America’s prestige and authority have waned due to its inability to conform to its own values of equality and justice for all, as evident from the extreme inequality and endemic racism. Either side foretells America’s diminishing global stature.
Prophesies of American Decline are not new. The rise of Soviet Union, collapse of Breton Woods, Japan’s economic success, Sep 11, America’s war on terror, the global financial crisis, and now the China challenge…. All have been at some point claimed to be the harbinger of America’s end. Naturally such predictions have never come to much. United States remains the most powerful nation economically, militarily and culturally. But just because the declinists were wrong in the past, does not mean that US would reign supreme forever. The gap between the US and other powers has narrowed considerably. Is this time really different? Are we witnessing the decline of America?
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