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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora