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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Decline and fall 

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note just got back from Europe and this is what he observed:
. . . the Germans are angry at Bush and America as a whole for so badly screwing up a number of collective efforts -- particularly on climate change -- but also in the Middle East. They are angry that Europe is not in a position to fill the void America is leaving and focus their frustration not on their own leadership problems but at the U.S. for undermining the dynamics of global order.
A widespread view among elite Germans and the non-elite normal types I spoke to is that America is in fast decline -- sort of like Britain after World War II. I think that the impressions foreigners have of this decline is "overshooting reality" as there are many substantive realities about America's ability to deploy force and purpose in the world that remain formidable.
But conversation in some serious circles is turning to what Europe can do to help America stabilize in some position of "lesser global stature." There is also a sense that the nation that is filling much of America's previous geopolitical space is China and that Europe feels tension in its strong alliance with U.S. power in decline and its strategic distance from China clearly ascending.
A few of the commenters to this post disagreed with what Clemons said.
But everyone from outside the US thought Steve got it just about all right -- they objected only to Clemons' assertion that America still remained "formidable" in some ways.

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