America’s Decline

In Reports of America’s Decline Greatly Exaggerated, a piece for New Atlanticist, I argue that the revived talk of American decline — this time, blamed on the financial crisis — is without much foundation.

Uncle Sam and the Statue of Liberty - America in Decline?

Uncle Sam and the Statue of Liberty - America in Decline?

If the Eurozone were to emerge as a united economic system, the United States would quickly move into second place, overwhelmed by the sheer size and accumulation of human capital across the Atlantic.  As has been again demonstrated in the response to the global financial crisis, however, “Europe” is still an ideal far from being realized while the domesic politics and interests of the EU’s member states continue to prevail.  So long as that’s the case, the United States will lack a peer competitor on the economic front just as it does militarily.

If , on the other hand, Western Europe were to truly become a single economy, it would be one with essentially the same values, goals, and norms as our own.  As with the famous car rental ads from the 1970s, being number two would force us to try harder — to live up to our ideals more closely, shed antequated protectionism and corporate welfare for favored industries, and be much more prudent in our borrowing.  It would also make transatlantic trade much more efficient, providing a bilateral set of rules rather than more than a dozen.

The good news is that America benefits either way.

Read the rest here.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Brett says:

    It was a good piece, James, although we do need to be careful – people rarely see an actual collapse of an entity until it happens, although they might see a decline.

    I think the real test of whether Europe is more than the sum of its constituent countries or less would be if the U.S. were to revert to a more traditional military role that we’ve held – something along the lines of strong naval (and probably air) superiority, strong nuclear deterrance in this day and age (along with missile defense), and a limited, but hopefully good, army and marines (marines especially, since they’re supposed to be used for amphibious and quick strikes). In that case, Europe would have to increase its defense spending, and try to define its new military responsibilities – and we’d get to see if they did it as a whole or as separate countries.

  2. MNotaro says:

    Our economy is in turmoil and I haven’t heard any of those left wing illuminati in Washington come up with any ideas to help out the American people! Do any of them care people are losing their homes, their jobs, and their retirement accounts?