Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Is Pax Americana Over?

No. Over the past year there has been a great deal of handwringing about whether America will soon have a diminished role in the world, or even lose its superpower status.

It’s true that these are tough times. We have a large deficit that concerns people across the political spectrum. Countries like Iran appear as intransigent as ever. Mostly though, I think the worry has to do with the economy. Millions are out of work, and millions more are unemployed. Young people are having a tough time grabbing hold of the bottom rung of the ladder.

But these times aren’t tougher than the worst ones America’s faced by any means. We went through a civil war where a different result during Picket’s charge could have divided the country permanently. We’ve experienced a great depression far worse than this great recession. Our darkest days might have come during Valley Forge when it seemed like the continental army might not outlast winter. If we could overcome all that, we can overcome our present difficulties.

Besides, what country is really doing better than us right now? Most of the world is suffering economically, same as us. European countries are struggling with high debt and unemployment. China, despite its growth, has all sorts of social ills, and a weird fusion of capitalism and repression that’s unsustainable in my view.

We have plenty of things to draw upon: abundant natural resources, large amounts of human capital, and a standard of living that’s still the envy of the world. Fear not. America is still number one.

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