Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Decline of the American Empire

The notion that Washington had entered a "New American Century" -- a phrase used by the nationalist and neo-conservative unilateralists who championed the Iraq war -- seems largely to have gone the way of the dodo bird.

Yale Professor Paul Kennedy argued that the U.S. was falling into a familiar historical pattern where the combination of huge military budgets and ever-larger deficits led inevitably to the kind of "imperial overstretch" that transformed once-mighty empires into shadows of their former selves.

Washington Post neo-conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer exulted on [the American empire], "The fact is no country has been as dominant culturally, economically, technologically, and militarily in the history of the world since the Roman Empire."

What a difference five years and an invasion and bungled occupation of Iraq make! References to the Roman Empire at this point are more likely to refer to its decline than to its power.

"I’ve argued that not since the Roman Empire has anyone had such extraordinary power as the United States after the Cold War," says Donald Kagan, a dean of neo-conservatism. "But all of the elements of our strength are now being challenged, and it’s perfectly possible that we are seeing a relative decline in U.S. power that will prove lasting."

[Inter Press Services]

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