Spengler’s Ominous Prophecy: Is the Decline of America the Decline of the West?
If America really is in decline, does it mean the west is in decline as well? Can a political system in seeming permanent gridlock survive? Do Americans have the stomach for meaningful fiscal and political reforms?
The answers to those questions have far reaching implications. The rest of the world is watching just to see what we are made of. European Union nations, battered by currency instability, budget crises and burgeoning debt are looking for answers from the US. Asia, the emerging global economic giant threatens American and western economic dominance and hegemony. In addition, these nations are also building huge new military structures. Projecting power it seems is no longer a western manifestation of dominance.
The new Middle East reality poses threats of it’s own, from rogue states to very real terror threats. Whereas it used to take armies and navies to wreck havoc on a nation, terror can now do the same at a much lower cost.
Think about this: Since 9/11, we have changed the rhythm of the nation. Consider how many hours of productive business are lost because we have to show up at the airport hours before our flights. Consider the costs of layer upon layer of security and consider the costs of the national intelligence infrastructure. According to the Washington Post, there are now 3.984 counter terrorism organizations- and those are just the ones we know about abd doesn’t count the federal agencies which have grown by over a third since 9/11. The counter terror organizations in your area can be found by clicking here.
‘The government has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex and so hard to manage, no one really knows if it’s fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping its citizens safe.’- WAPO
When democracy has to contend with protecting itself as opposed to expanding freedoms, can it survive?
A QUESTION haunts America: Is it in decline on the world scene? Foreign-policy discourse is filled with commentary declaring that it is. Some—Parag Khanna’s work comes to mind—suggests the decline is the product of forces beyond America’s control. Others—Yale’s Paul Kennedy included—contend that America has fostered, at least partially, its own decline through “imperial overstretch” and other actions born of global ambition. Still others—Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution and Stratfor’s George Friedman, for example—dispute that America is in decline at all. But the question is front and center and inescapable.
It may be the wrong question. America is a product of Western civilization—part and parcel of it, inseparable from it. Thus, no serious analysis of America’s fate as a global power can be undertaken without placing it within the context of the West, meaning primarily Europe.
Kagan disputes this. In his influential little book of 2003, Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order, he famously suggested Americans are from Mars whereas Europeans are from Venus. “They agree on little and understand one another less and less,” he wrote, adding, “When it comes to setting national priorities, determining threats, defining challenges, and fashioning and implementing foreign and defense policies, the United States and Europe have parted ways.”
Perhaps. But they share the same cultural heritage, and their fates are bound together, whether they like it or not. Think of Greece and Rome, both part and parcel of the classical civilization. They honored the same gods, pursued the same modes of artistic expression and viewed politics in largely the same way during their periods of greatest flowering. And their fates were intertwined—enforced with brutal finality by Roman military potentates Mummius on the ground and Metellus at sea even as the younger Scipio was destroying Carthage in a way the Greeks never experienced because, unlike Carthage, they didn’t represent an alien civilization. Will Durant pegs the end of Greek civilization at ad 325, when Constantine founded Constantinople and Rome took a decisive turn away from its heritage—and that of Greece.