Sunday, January 05, 2003
American Recessional - 5th January 2003, 23.35

Paul Kennedy, populariser of the historical principle that economic power underlies military power, wrote an article on the possibility of decline in the American hegemon for Newsweek. It was republished in the Daily Times of Pakistan.

Apart from allowing Kennedy to wax nostalgic for Kipling, the article is recycled journalese from his favoured argument. It is short on analysis or constructing arguments that speculate on the possible causes of American decline. And why? Because arguments on 'American decline' have been around for fifty-five years and none have been fulfilled. If any part of the globe is in relative economic decline, Western Europe and Russia fit the bill, with their associated economic, demographic and military crises.

The world is less multipolar now than it was ten years ago, undermining the claim of Paul Kennedy's text. However, perception of power is all, and if the United States were to become involved in a long and futile conflict without certain victory, then its role as hegemon may be undermined. Whatever the world is like by 2010, the current strategic direction of the United States raises the probability of further conflicts on more than one front, and such wars may well sap the human vitality and economic vigour of this nation.


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