The Myth of American Decline

This article, written by Robert Kagan, takes the stance that American hegemony isn’t, in fact, in decline– instead, it’s as strong as ever. Kagan may be a hack for hegemony, but he makes some really good arguments as to why this is true.

What I think the best argument he makes (and the most logical one) is that our power projection worldwide is still stable because of our sheer military power. Our military is significantly larger than any other military in the world. In fact, Kagan indicates that it’s larger than the rest of the world’s military spending combined. Since military dominance is how a country like the US is able to maintain its control over the world, it seems to me that the size of our military means our hegemony is sound. Especially because of the amount of troops and military alliances we have in every region of the world, it’s hard to imagine a world in which we aren’t the strongest military power in the world.

Another argument that Kagan makes is that while other countries may be experiencing particularly high periods of economic growth, that growth helps the US more than anything. Since we have trade partnerships with countries like India and Turkey, we benefit economically from them growing economically. Some war hawks think that Chinese economic growth signals the end of American hegemony, but even if that’s true, it’s impossible to deny that their economic growth directly influences ours. Therefore, Chinese economic growth also helps America’s economy. And our economy is the lynchpin of our hegemony– it’s how we afford our massive military, and it’s how we can convince other countries to create new trade alliances and forge new relationships with us.

Kagan also analyzes historical periods in which American hegemony was supposedly in decline. He dissects each of these periods in time and indicates that even though we’ve had other problems domestically and abroad, they haven’t been enough to trigger a collapse in American hegemony. If decline wasn’t final in the past, there isn’t a reason why it’ll be final now.

Kagan’s article is really long and makes some really good arguments as to why American decline is a myth, and I absolutely encourage anyone who’s interested in this topic to read his article in its entirety.

Edit– I posted a broken link on accident. The real article can be found here. Sorry about that.


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