During the 70s and 80s, Vietnam War, the oil check, economic stagnation and the supposedly superior political economy system of Japan were prompting eminent scholars to write books title “Japan as Number One” and “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers” prophesying the decline of American superpower. But it was not meant to be. In the early 90s, America’s biggest military rival and economic rival, respectively the Soviet Union dissolved, and Japan went into a decade of very low growth. While America rebounded to the longest continued economic growth in its history and just as its military seems invincible in the Gulf War, taking less than 150 casualties during the entire war. American preeminence, let to books title “The End of History” and articles like “The Unipolar Moment“. The declaration of American decline was premature, until now.
This time the strongest warning of American decline didn’t come in the form of economic crisis or military blunder, even though America had the 2008 financial crisis, and is waging 2.5 wars (Afganistan, Iraq and Libya). The most troubling sign of American decline came in the form of a BBC report titled “China ‘to overtake US on science’ in two years” along with this graph:
Americas relative decline in scientifica publications will influence its ability to innovate more than other relatively. Innovation drives economic prosperity which is in it self a political power resource and allows for maintaining a powerful military which is still in many cases the ultimate power resources. Even though scientific publication quantity does not reflect completely the state of innovation in America, since it does not take in account fully the overall quality of publication and private/commercial innovation, but it surely is an indication of the coming trend. America’s decline is certain, but there is still a long way to go from the decline in scientific publication to decline in innovation, to decline in economy, to decline in military and finally to truly losing its number one status in world politics. This coming change in the global power structure is, i believe, the most important foreseeable dynamic in the first half of 21st century. I have discuss one aspect of its impact in a previous post titled: “Chimerica 2.0 – the most important relationship in the world” check it out. American foreign policy and great power politics are fascinates me immensely, i will continue to write about it.
(Painting: “The Fall of Rome”)