With such lessons in mind, it is useful to look at what is highlighted in the major journals of policy and opinion today. Let us keep to the most prestigious of the establishment journals, Foreign Affairs. The headline blaring on the cover of the December 2011 issue reads in bold face: "Is America Over?"
The title article calls for "retrenchment" in the "humanitarian missions" abroad that are consuming the country’s wealth, so as to arrest the American decline that is a major theme of international affairs discourse, usually accompanied by the corollary that power is shifting to the East, to China and (maybe) India.
The lead articles are on Israel-Palestine. The first, by two high Israeli officials, is entitled "The Problem is Palestinian Rejection": the conflict cannot be resolved because Palestinians refuse to recognise Israel as a Jewish state - thereby conforming to standard diplomatic practice: states are recognised, but not privileged sectors within them. The demand is hardly more than a new device to deter the threat of political settlement that would undermine Israel’s expansionist goals.
The opposing position, defended by an American professor, is entitled "The Problem Is the Occupation". The subtitle reads "How the Occupation is Destroying the Nation". Which nation? Israel, of course. The paired articles appear under the heading "Israel under Siege".
The January 2012 issue features yet another call to bomb Iran now, before it is too late. Warning of "the dangers of deterrence", the author suggests that "skeptics of military action fail to appreciate the true danger that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to US interests in the Middle East and beyond. And their grim forecasts assume that the cure would be worse than the disease - that is, that the consequences of a US assault on Iran would be as bad as or worse than those of Iran achieving its nuclear ambitions. But that is a faulty assumption. The truth is that a military strike intended to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, if managed carefully, could spare the region and the world a very real threat and dramatically improve the long-term national security of the United States."
Others argue that the costs would be too high, and at the extremes some even point out that an attack would violate international law - as does the stand of the moderates, who regularly deliver threats of violence, in violation of the UN Charter.
Let us review these dominant concerns in turn.
American decline is real, though the apocalyptic vision reflects the familiar ruling class perception that anything short of total control amounts to total disaster. Despite the piteous laments, the US remains the world dominant power by a large margin, and no competitor is in sight, not only in the military dimension, in which of course the US reigns supreme...
February 16, 2012
Questioning America’s Global Supremacy
The ongoing debate over the status of America’s power and potential decline is transiting its latest media upswing. Washington insider and Brookings fellow Robert Kagan discussed the issue on Tuesday with PBS’s Charlie Rose. Norm Chomsky, Institute Professor emeritus in the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, provided Al Jazeera with a historical counterweight to Kagan’s arguments: