When U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office—likely masked and surrounded by socially distanced officials and family—he will look out on a country that many believe is in decline. The problems that propelled President Donald Trump to office, including a collapsing middle class and toxic internal divisions, remain. And Trump will bequeath new ills to his successor: a runaway pandemic, a struggling economy, burgeoning debt, a wounded democracy, and a diminished global reputation.
For the United States, decline is less a condition than a choice.
“Declinism,” or the belief that the United States is sliding irreversibly from its preeminent status, is tempting. But such fatalism would be misguided. The United States still retains enviable advantages: a young population, financial dominance, abundant resources, peaceful borders, strong alliances, and an innovative economy. Moreover, as Samuel Huntington wrote in Foreign Affairs decades ago, the United States possesses an unusual capacity for self-correction, with declinists ironically playing “an indispensable role in preventing what they are predicting.”
Read the full article and more in Foreign Affairs.
More from CNAS
PodcastAre the US and China entering a Cold War?
Demetri Sevastopulo, the FT’s US-China correspondent, talks to Michèle Flournoy about the expanded economic and political influence of China and how might Joe Biden break thro...
By Michèle Flournoy
America’s increasing focus on rivalry with China ensures that U.S. Africa policy will continue to be viewed, at least in part, through a China lens....
By David Shullman & Patrick Quirk
PodcastChinaTalk: Japan's China Challenge
Joshua Fitt cohosts the latest episode of ChinaTalk to discuss the relationship and challenges Japan faces with China. Listen to the full episode from ChinaTalk....
By Joshua Fitt & Jordan Schneider
CommentarySharper: The Beijing-Moscow Partnership
Cooperation between Russia and China has deepened across nearly every dimension of their relationship....
By Chris Estep, Carisa Nietsche & Gibbs McKinley