The American Decline

The American Decline liberal order

The American Decline

When we talk about human beings as organisms we can get a fairly clear sense of a trajectory and what it means to decline. If we start with an accurate baseline line, that most people often say in extraordinarily disorderly times today we have never seen anything like this, well in fact that is not true as Henry Kissinger points out in his book “ World Order”.

Future of American Liberal Order

The American Decline, The thoughts of Americans that they have been living in an age of American Hegemony for the last 75 years the answer would be no, at best it was half of Germany. If you ask about the International order that the Americans helped structure after 1945, it did not include China, India, Soviet Union if we see there more than half of the world is right there, so it was the set of like-minded countries which were obeying a set of rules and structuring a set of alliances but this view that the world order was an American Hegemony is again a bit fictitious.

International relations theory

The American Decline, If you look at international relations theory there is a theory called power transition theory which is about what happens when one country rises and another declines, and what we expect power transition theory is often associated with Lucida T`s and his famous Explanation of the causes of the Peloponnesian War in which the Greek city-state system towards self part In which he said: “ it was caused at the base by the rise in the power of Athens and the fear that created in Sparta”.

power transition theory ( 21st century)

Today as in the last century, WWI was caused by the rise of the power of Germany the fear that was created in Putin, and the fact the European state system tore itself apart and Europe ceased to be the center of the global balance of power. What we are going to see in the 21st century on this analogy on this view of Power Transition Theory. The power Transition theory is the rise in the power of China is going to cause fear in the United States Which is going to lead to some great conflagration.

The American Decline, Perhaps growing out of a major incident after the Peloponnesian war started with an Episode of Epidamnus which is of no great significance but in that climate of power transition and fear it led to escalation, which was of tremendous importance if that view of transition theory is correct.

The American Decline

The American Decline, War between the United States of America and China which the RAND Cooperation once analyzed as a war that the United States would win but at enormous cost to both sides that would be bad for the USA and China and thus bad for the world, so this is one view of power transition theory.

 Kindleberger trap

Power Transition theory in the view of Joseph Nye “  According to him that the rising power does not do enough and to get people to focus on that rather than merely the age-old lucidity, he have called the Kindleberger trap instead of the Thucydides trap. Now how is Kindleberger Charlie, he was a very distinguished economist at MIT, and he was a student of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

He argued that the problem of the 1930s the reason that it turned out so badly was that the United States became the most powerful country in the world but didn’t act like it, it was still a free rider and Britain had produced global public goods in the nineteenth century had been so severely weakened by world war one, they could no longer do the job, therefore the failure of the Americans to live up to their new position is the reason that you got in the 1930s, the poet WH Auden called a low miserable decade.

The public good is something from which we all can benefit and none can be excluded, the example of this in terms of domestic politics is clean Air, if we have clean air it’s going to benefit me but I can`t keep it from benefiting you and that`s a public good and in a well-ordered domestic polity we rely on governments to provide public goods because peoples don’t do enough to tax themselves on this. The government’s tax which he regulates and that` ‘s how the public goods are provided.

But internationally there is no government and therefore goods tend to be underproduced and the problem is that there is an incentive for most countries to freeride, if you are a small country let`s take Switzerland since we are in Switzerland it does not make a lot of difference whether you pay a lot into fund for global public goods or not, you are going to get the same amount whether you pay or not pay if that’s the case then why not freeride.

The American Decline

On the other hand the largest country for example Britain in the 19th century would produce public goods like, Freedom of the seas using the British Navy to police it a relatively stable international monetary system a relatively open international trading system, not out of the goodness of its heart or charity but because it affected Britain and Britain was so large, so important that if it did not do these things it would notice and it would suffer.

The American Decline,  so the largest country has the incentive to contribute to global public goods out of self-interest and accents Britain played that role, but the United States in the 1930s though it had become the world`s largest country didn’t play that role example in 1928 the United States passed the smooth-haw-ley tariff.


The American Decline, The United States of America has the power of intimidation but it also has the power of inspiration and that is soft power, ironically the general in charge of the Pentagon understands that the civilian in charge of the white house. Sometimes people look at the 2016 election and say this is a wave of populism sweeping away the global international order. The United States of America will have to see that if the Trump administration comes into power for the second time they will see an absolute decline.

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