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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid