Islamist terrorism, the weakening dollar, recession, the rise of the East, foreign debt, bungled wars, oil prices and dependency, worldwide hostility. Some would argue, in light of the aforementioned problems, that America is in decline. I disagree strongly.
Recently I’ve heard commentary, from various corners, on the supposedly inexorable fall of the United States.
Comparisons are made to the Roman and British Empires. Indeed, it’s easy to get caught up in the pessimism of the day trumpeted by the media, presidential candidates and others.
However, judging by our country’s past experiences, I believe we are fully capable of meeting the challenges before us. The only thing that has “declined” is our resiliency. To be sure, our difficulties are significant and require a focused, long-term effort. The seeming confluence of crises appears daunting, but consider some historical analogies.
The Vietnam War was bungled on a much larger scale than the war in Iraq. At that time, we were not even considered the world’s sole superpower, and the apparent inability of our military was a sure sign of doom in the face of the Soviet Union. How could we confront the growing forces of communism if we created such a mess in Vietnam?
However, in the ensuing decades, we revolutionized the structure and strategy of our military, in the process creating a force unparalleled in human history.
More so than any other country, we established a robust all-volunteer military and took singular advantage of the digital revolution to create the most technologically dominant military ever. This was a remarkable turnaround from the pessimism of the Vietnam War.
Skyrocketing oil prices is another problem we have faced before. In the 1970’s oil crisis, we were unprepared and hit hard. But we survived, thanks in part to effective governmental policies.
For example, recognizing the need for more fuel-efficient vehicles, the government mandated digitally regulated engines, thereby applying an innovative solution to a pressing problem.
Of course, some of the problems we now face are completely new, most notably an emerging China. In relation to the foreign entanglements and domestic squabbles that mark the United States today, China appears to be doing quite well. With its more centralized and directly controlled government and economy, it can lay low and pursue a concerted, long-term strategy of growth.
The prospect of China becoming a rival superpower is real. But keep in mind that it is far off, which leaves much time for improvement on our part.
Our economy is the most dynamic, and still the largest, in the world. Our influence over world affairs is considerable, though perhaps not as much as we sometimes would like to believe.
Due to these factors and others, China is very much a surmountable obstacle.
In the end, the United States’ pessimism and self-deprecation far eclipses its actual problems. Our news media, in particular, is a great liability in its current state because it cripples any semblance of stable, long-term policy.
In my view, our sheer power, coupled with our ingenuity, is grounds for optimism. The recovery from 9/11 is a prime example. Quit ranting and raving, America, and do something about your problems.
Ian Deitz is a senior political science major from Gettysburg, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected]