Monday June 15, 2015
Much has been written about the dangers and challenges posed by China as a rising global power. Indeed, historians speak of generic tensions between rising powers and status quo powers that have often led to war.
But instability takes at least two players to create it: the rising power and the resistance of the once-reigning power. Today the US is that once-reigning power, now in a state of relative international decline. If the US itself, and the international order including rising powers, do not acknowledge and handle this transition wisely a dangerous confrontation awaits.
The reasons for US decline across the boards are well known and well described in many statistics. They are not, however, regularly acknowledged by large segments of the US population including Washington. Here I would like to look primarily at the foreign policy aspects of this decline and its implications.
The decline of US power abroad cannot be separated from many domestic failings: deadlocked governance, bloated military budgets and their huge opportunity costs, the rise of the military-industrial-security state and its massive cash infusions into Congress; an impoverished political spectrum that begins on the moderate right of center (Obama) and caroms on over into various degrees of crazy right.