The Literature of Decline [Abstract]

Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 3 (1989)

December 2, 1989

This article compares reflections from four sources on the state of the American democracy in the international community (The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000, by Paul Kennedy; 1999: Victory Without War, by Richard Nixon; "Communism at Bay," The Economist; Long Cycles in World Politics, by George Modelski) within the framework of the 1980s, which was portrayed by leaders as "an era of good feelings." Yet drastically different positions on American rise or decline are propounded by historians and officeholders, former presidents and scholars, journalists and aspiring candidates for political office. These four writings reveal the complexity of the analysis of the American decline. Yet, it is crucial for leaders to maintain public devotion to their nation, not through passion, but rather, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, through "the solid quarry of sober reason,". America's capacity to preserve a strong and healthy resilience, the author concludes, is the exceptional value it continues to offer the world.


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