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Persistent primacy and the future of the American era

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Arguments are widely expressed that America is in decline, both at home and abroad. These admonitions extend not only to economic, diplomatic and geopolitical realms, but even to the cultural arena. The United States does face real and even serious problems, but there is an unmistakable echo of the past in current arguments. Antecedents of these views were evident in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, and on occasion even in identical language. Indeed, declinist proclamations have appeared on and off not only throughout the 20th Century, but also during the 18th and 19th Centuries. Moreover, periodic crises in US history have included challenges more daunting than those of today. It can thus be instructive to compare the arguments and prescriptions of the new declinism with those of earlier eras. The evidence suggests a pattern of over-reaction, a historicism, and a lack of appreciation for the robustness, adaptability and staying power of the United States.International Politics (2009) 46, 119–139. doi:10.1057/ip.2008.44
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1Department of Government, Georgetown University, Washington DC 20057-1034, USA., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 March 2009

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