April 02, 2018

The Decline of the American Brand

For the first time in decades, America is consciously squandering the gifts of its geography.

What is the United States in functional, geopolitical terms?

In the words of the great British geographer of a century ago, Halford Mackinder, the temperate zone of North America is the greatest of the island-satellites of the Afro-Eurasian land mass, able to deeply affect the Old World while protected from its daily political eruptions at the same time. World War II damaged or decimated the infrastructure of every great power—except that of the United States.

Moreover, bordering not one ocean but two, the United States since its emergence on the world stage in the Spanish-American War of 1898 has been a naval power. Because of the moral taboo against the use of nuclear weapons, the Navy has always been America’s principal strategic instrument. One cannot deploy tens of thousands of American soldiers or marines overseas without a great public debate, but aircraft carrier strike groups—with their colossal firepower and thousands of sailors—move regularly from one geographic theater to another with barely any media notice. The deadliest navy in history aligned with a unique, resource-rich geography has made America a natural leader. After all, naval power by itself indicates a certain security on land, allowing for the luxury of liberal ideals in the first place.

Read the full op-ed at The National Interest