News / USA

Is United States Still Number One?

A US flag flutters above the Statue of Liberty in New York, which has become an iconic symbol of freedom and of the United States, (File)
A US flag flutters above the Statue of Liberty in New York, which has become an iconic symbol of freedom and of the United States, (File)

Is the United States a power in decline?

For decades, the United States has been the number one global economic power. But during the past few years, it has faced a sluggish economy, millions of Americans out of work, a huge budget deficit and a polarized political environment. All of these factors have compelled some experts here and abroad to ask whether the United States is a powerful nation in decline.

John Bolton is former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations: “Oh I think it’s way too soon to say that. Just find another power in the world that would like to go up against us militarily and the takers are few and far between. There are other countries whose economies are expanding, but after World War II, when Europe was able to recover from the massive destruction of the war, as Japan recovered in its turn, that didn’t reduce America’s influence," he said. "It may have seen others rise in their share of the world’s total product, but the result really was that everybody in the world got wealthier.”

Experts say China is a country whose economic growth could make it a powerful player in the years ahead - and a potential rival to the United States.

Joseph Nye is a senior scholar at Harvard University: “China has had very impressive progress. It has raised several hundred million people out of poverty with its high growth rates and it is making very impressive progress. I think it is going to get closer to the United States, give the U.S. a run for its money, but I don’t see it passing the U.S,” he said.

For his part, Alan Meltzer, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University, does believe the U.S. is a declining power. He says one reason is that since the end of the Cold War, European nations have been accommodating American interests less and less because they don’t need Washington as much as they did during the Soviet threat.

And Meltzer says there is another reason for the American decline.

“The United States couldn’t solve its budget problems and a country that can’t solve its budget problems is not in a very good position to tell other people what they should do,” Meltzer stated.

President Barack Obama and congressional leaders recently reached an agreement to increase the country’s debt ceiling - but only after some acrimonious exchanges.

Nye says a polarized political climate in Washington is nothing new.

“The outside world sees a very messy political process and many people say it shows Americans in decline. But if one looks back historically, the Americans have always had a rather messy political process - the Founding Fathers had very bitter partisan politics among themselves," he explained. "I think we are going through a bad spell of polarization in politics, but we’ve been through things like that before.”

And Nye says there is also nothing new in the current discussion whether the United States is in decline. “We go through cycles like this every decade or two. After Sputnik [1957 - first satellite to be put into Earth’s orbit] we thought the Russians were 10 feet-tall. In the 1980s we thought the Japanese were 10 feet tall. Today people are claiming the Chinese are 10 feet-tall - but I think we’ll outgrow all of this,” he added.

Many experts, including Ambassador John Bolton, say in the final analysis, the role that America will play in the years ahead remains in its own hands - and that’s what a democracy is all about.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid