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Old 05-02-2009, 05:26 AM
 
Location: Kent-the Garden of England
69 posts, read 204,970 times
Reputation: 110

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This is not an anti-American post! Just a curious one.

A conversation I had with an American friend recently revealed that he thought that the pre-eminence of the United States was going to be more or less eternal. We debated it a great deal and I think I won him round a little bit.

It got me to wondering: how many Americans genuinely or sub-consciously believe that this is it. That the USA is #1 for keeps.

My view is that if history has taught us absolutely nothing else, it is that all pre-eminent powers eventually decline. Exactly the same will happen to the USA. In some ways I regret this. I am far from sure I have identified a more benign influence on the world than the USA has been...or maybe I should say used to be. It's maybe not that benign recently.

Persia, Greece, China, Rome, Arabia, France, England/UK, Spain, I guess Turkey, and more recently the USSR have at different times been either extraordinarily powerful and wealthy in a large part of the world, or all of it. They have either declined totally, or declined into comfortable middle-rank nation status. I suppose France and England/UK could be regarded as being fairly long-standing: they have either been at the top or very near the top for not so far off a thousand years. But both are being over-taken by the nations that will eventually topple the USA as the world's pre-eminent powers.

We could argue about when the United States became the world's undisputed richest, most pwoerful country. I'd put it at around 1920, very roughly. Much before then Britain and Germany still had far more industrial and financial might, and France joined them in terms of diplomatic clout and ability to swagger on the world stage.

Each of the empires/nations had a very clear golden age. A couple of centuries or so where they were undeniably THE world power. Sometimes much more.

In relation to the rest of the world, the richest the USA has ever been was in the 1950s and 60s. It was so hugely more affluent, modern and powerful then, compared to the rest, that it was almost a joke. Ever since the late 60s the rest of the world has been catching up extremely fast. In all sorts of fields these days, 'stuff' can be better/newer/faster/more advanced in countries beyond the United States. I think America still more or less wears the crown for quality of life for the majority these days....but only just, and foreigners are easily able to nit-pick about whether that is even true. In the 1950s and 60s that would have been utterly impossible.

Although the USA is far further out in front militarily than it is economically, is that changing too? America has not really slapped down an enemy since WW2.

How long do folks think American pre-eminence in the world will total? I'd put it at around 150 years, from 1920 to around 2070. It's not really that long. Perhaps it is becoming far harder than it was to hold onto that level of power? If I am right, Rome, England, France, Spain lasted much longer as superpowers.
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Old 05-02-2009, 05:38 AM
 
Location: western East Roman Empire
6,112 posts, read 10,153,432 times
Reputation: 4850
Grass springs up in the morning, it is burned by the afternoon sun, then by evening it wilts away.

Return to dust O sons of men.

It is a petty question, really.
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Old 05-02-2009, 08:15 PM
 
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
14,933 posts, read 16,534,340 times
Reputation: 28710
I come across that attitude from time to time mainly around young, simple, uneducated folks that you might meet at a monster-truck rally or knife-and-gun show. I chalk it up to simple ignorance of history combined with a naive nationalism.


ABQConvict
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Old 05-03-2009, 01:40 AM
 
3,566 posts, read 4,491,128 times
Reputation: 1846
Quote:
Originally Posted by littleandoften View Post
This is not an anti-American post! Just a curious one.

A conversation I had with an American friend recently revealed that he thought that the pre-eminence of the United States was going to be more or less eternal. We debated it a great deal and I think I won him round a little bit.

It got me to wondering: how many Americans genuinely or sub-consciously believe that this is it. That the USA is #1 for keeps.

My view is that if history has taught us absolutely nothing else, it is that all pre-eminent powers eventually decline. Exactly the same will happen to the USA. In some ways I regret this. I am far from sure I have identified a more benign influence on the world than the USA has been...or maybe I should say used to be. It's maybe not that benign recently.

Persia, Greece, China, Rome, Arabia, France, England/UK, Spain, I guess Turkey, and more recently the USSR have at different times been either extraordinarily powerful and wealthy in a large part of the world, or all of it. They have either declined totally, or declined into comfortable middle-rank nation status. I suppose France and England/UK could be regarded as being fairly long-standing: they have either been at the top or very near the top for not so far off a thousand years. But both are being over-taken by the nations that will eventually topple the USA as the world's pre-eminent powers.

We could argue about when the United States became the world's undisputed richest, most pwoerful country. I'd put it at around 1920, very roughly. Much before then Britain and Germany still had far more industrial and financial might, and France joined them in terms of diplomatic clout and ability to swagger on the world stage.

Each of the empires/nations had a very clear golden age. A couple of centuries or so where they were undeniably THE world power. Sometimes much more.

In relation to the rest of the world, the richest the USA has ever been was in the 1950s and 60s. It was so hugely more affluent, modern and powerful then, compared to the rest, that it was almost a joke. Ever since the late 60s the rest of the world has been catching up extremely fast. In all sorts of fields these days, 'stuff' can be better/newer/faster/more advanced in countries beyond the United States. I think America still more or less wears the crown for quality of life for the majority these days....but only just, and foreigners are easily able to nit-pick about whether that is even true. In the 1950s and 60s that would have been utterly impossible.

Although the USA is far further out in front militarily than it is economically, is that changing too? America has not really slapped down an enemy since WW2.

How long do folks think American pre-eminence in the world will total? I'd put it at around 150 years, from 1920 to around 2070. It's not really that long. Perhaps it is becoming far harder than it was to hold onto that level of power? If I am right, Rome, England, France, Spain lasted much longer as superpowers.
Well, I sure won't speak for all Americans but I don't (and most that I know don't) believe that the US is number one forevah. We are well aware that all empires fall. Now, I have some friends in Croydon and, in our discussions that we have had ,the belief is that it is because of the sheer size of the US that will bring us down. That it is too much land to control. I don't think so. It will be a downfall due to what we always fight over.....resources.

I do not think that Americans wear the crown for the quality of life. In fact we are not known to have a high quality of life. Just because we can go to the store and have 20 choices of bread does not make quality of life. It means that there are 20 choices. Just because we can go to one store and buy everything does not mean quality of life. Just because we have a Walmart Superstore ......does not mean we have quality of life.
In fact, the most depressing thing is to watch some European stores go 24/7. That is jacked up.

Further, we have the best medical response in the entire world but we have crap for prevention. This is huge. Medical is huge. And if your comparison is limited to the 50's and 60's then your looking only at middle to upper class white people.......you have neglected everyone else. But it sure is pretty on the screen.

Our military has toys that no one else has. China currently holds 24-27 pretty toys pointed at California, however, they can say we are going for LA and nail San Franscisco. Most countries can have those same toys only on a boat. Do you know how many carriers we have? More than any other. And isn't that sexy? For now.

We have nailed countries in inconspicuous ways. Not even counting how the bombs were dropped in Japan and that Russia had been an enemy of the England and they desperatley wanted them put in their place. Let me see, does Mossadegh ring a bell? I believe that was 1953. England asked, it was done. They could have just have easily made sure that everyone that the Iranians that lived there had running water and didn't live in run down shacks, but they didn't choose that path.

By the late 1970's and before 1978, the US went in and willingly utilized what is known as the Arc of Islam in Afghanistan using Pakistan while aiding and abetting both Iraq and Iran during their war. Then, when Kuwait was drilling for oil sideways into Iraq and Saddam got pissed off and the US went and nailed him, we were protecting the only country that England still had a foothold in.

Now, believe me when I tell you that I am not proud of our foreign policy. In fact, it is horrendous. But England benefits and I have heard it stated from those that are not too happy about being in the pockets of the US. Everything that I have just stated is beyond disgusting. So, yep, it may be a short run but then it doesn't take 6 months to travel either.
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Old 05-03-2009, 09:25 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,556,197 times
Reputation: 35864
Most Americans do believe, now, if challenged to rationalize, that nothing is invincible. But a single generation ago, thoughts of an eternal America were widespread, before we were smacked up aside the head with a rolled up newspaper, first by the Chinesa, and then by the lending bankers. Now, it takes a certain amount of dreamy intoxication to still believe that, but most still wander lost in a fog of laughing gas.

When the elevator cable snaps and the car goes into free fall, the passengers still have that nice, light, weightless, airy feeling.
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Old 05-03-2009, 04:03 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
7,091 posts, read 10,488,886 times
Reputation: 4104
The only constant in life is change. I think it's good, too many people seem to expect they will be at the top just because...when it's due to the hard work and diligence of people. I think people have gotten too content, and need a good kick in the butt to realize that just complaining that other countries are getting more presence doesn't do anything.
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