Thursday 02 Apr 2020 | 20:46 | SYDNEY
Thursday 02 Apr 2020 | 20:46 | SYDNEY

What is 'decline', anyway?


Sam Roggeveen


8 January 2009 12:59

There's little to disagree with in Hugh's analysis, yet I'm wary of even long term projections of American decline. Michael refers in his op-ed to a claim by an intelligence analyst that the high-water mark for US power came in 1941. I'd probably pick 1945, when not only had America's two wartime enemies been crushed, but even the other victor nations were prostrate.

To varying degrees, these countries all recovered over the next few decades to become economically and strategically much stonger in comparison to the US. In other words, they caught up in much the same way China is doing now.

But although the figures don't lie, it would be slightly perverse to view that period as one of American decline, wouldn't it? What I mean is, you'd be missing a large part of the 1945-1989 story if you defined it as one of relative US decline. Couldn't the next 40 or 50 years play out in a similar way?