EDITORIAL: End of the American superpower

Administration report surrenders future to the Far East

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It took more than 60 years, but the days of America as a superpower are coming to an end. This is the finding of the Obama administration’s latest report, “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds,” which the National Intelligence Council (NIC) released Monday. Analyzing geopolitical trends over the next 15 to 20 years, the document concludes China will have eclipsed the United States as the world’s premier economic and military giant by 2030. The administration is convinced the United States and the West are in permanent decline.

It doesn’t have to be so. The NIC analysts predict a “return to pre-2008 growth rates” is highly unlikely for America and the European Union — at least for another decade, as the West’s anemic economies are being dragged down by massive budget deficits and crushing debt. These are problems that could be resolved but for the resistance to spending restraint in Washington and Brussels.

Wealth and power have been flowing from the West to the East for the past several decades, and China has been the big winner. Its rise has come at the expense of America. Beijing has amassed huge trade surpluses by manipulating its currency and violating basic labor and environmental standards. China’s market remains relatively closed to U.S. goods, while our market is flooded with cheap Chinese products. Hence, Beijing’s manufacturing output has soared. Its economy is the second-largest in the world — and growing.

Right now, the U.S. economy is double the size of China‘s, but thanks to President Obama’s economic policies, we’re hardly growing. The Chinese leadership has largely avoided many of the mistakes committed by successive U.S. administrations. Beijing is to America what we once were to Great Britain: the emerging global powerhouse.

There is, however, a critical difference. America’s ascent represented a great advance for democracy and human freedom. China’s rise is a different matter. It poses a serious challenge to both the West and regional neighbors. Beijing’s state capitalism is being driven by bellicose nationalism. China is engaged in a massive military buildup. It makes territorial claims on Taiwan as well as islands disputed by Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. China’s goal is clear: Drive America out of the Pacific on the road to becoming an authoritarian colossus. A world dominated by Beijing will be very different — and much nastier — than the one led by the United States since 1945.

The NIC report quotes economist John Maynard Keynes on nations’ willful blindness to the future. In 1937, Keynes said that “the idea of the future being different from the present is so repugnant to our conventional modes of thought and behavior that we, most of us, offer a great resistance to acting on it in practice.” The irony is that Keynesianism — with its stress on big government, a vast public sector and huge deficit spending — is primarily responsible for the economic morass and debt crisis plaguing the West. Decline is not a fate — it is a choice. Sadly, it is one that America, especially the Obama administration, has made. Until we change course, the future belongs to China.


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