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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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 Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More