“America’s present need is not heroics but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution but restoration.” This famous sentence pronounced by Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States, at the beginning of his office in 1921, could be, from certain points of view, perfectly adapted today. In fact, America’s situation and future for four decades, has been largly debated. Is she in decline? Is she stil an empire, a power, a hyperpower? Two English professors : Michael Cox and Michael John Williams, both experts in this question, looked into this problem. Professor Cox, first, drew a pessimistic view of America in his essay Is the United States in decline-again? In response to this essay, M.J.Williams wrote The empire writes back where he explains how much Cox’s argument about America’s decline are false.
Professor Cox, in his essay Is the United States in decline-again explains his theory about America’s decline. As we can see in the title America would be in decline “again”. In fact, until 1968 and during two decades the debate about America’s decline was in the air. People were talking about it, people were feeling it, people were reading it. They particularly read the work of Kennedy, an english historian who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. In his famous book, Kennedy had two major propositions to explain United States’s decline. The first one was based in a realist notion : the fact that all empires has a finite lifepan. The second was empiric : America’s century was simply coming to his end, faster than anyone expected. This decline had differents causes : the defeat in Vietnam, the rising of the national debt, and above all, the “emergence of a more complex interdependant world” (Cox, 2007, 645), and this new world would completely change USA’s place in the world.
Yet, in the nineties, things took a totally different turn. In fact, with the Gulf war of 91, the failure of Europe to resolve Yougolslavie’s issue, the economic crisis in Japan and then the Asian economic crisis, USA refound its place of first Power and everybody forgot the decline’s question during one decade. The major point wich changed everything for the USA was the end of the cold war, wich caused the dissolution of the USSR and consequently the collapse of only one alternative for the world : capitalism. At this moment started a new era, for the USA and for the world : “The world system had finally been united” (Cox, 2007, 648) The nature of the USA changed with this new era : the USA became a modern empire, a hegemon, a hyperpower. They changed a lot in their forein policy : they set up a massive military lead, an extensive system of global alliances, a massive intelligence gathering and a global culture and economy.
Under Clinton’s administration they also started to change the bases of their policy which became more unilateralist : “always more unilaterally inclined than their multilateral rethoric seemed to imply” (Cox, 2007, 648). The symbol of this unilateralism has been the invasion of Irak and Afghanistan after the events of the nine of eleven. In fact, they decided, against other coutry’s view to start a war, to fulfill their duty in fighting “the rogues sates” and declaring one each against Irak Afghanistan,Iran, North corea.. They found a new doctrine and it led them to their loss : “The US comitted one of the most basic of great power errorss : getting stuck into a quagmire in a country it would have been better to leave be” (Cox, 2007, 650).
This events had serious consequences, the Third world changed totally his point of view about USA and many of them started to be be hostile towards them. Further, USA ignored the international laws and made huge dammages to the liberal order and to trust between countries. In the same time the other powers in the world are rising : Europe and china are playing more effetively wich “altere the way international relations are now conducted”. In fact USA are now constently challenged from the euro, from the other competitors as Toyota, even from the other towns as London wich is now the first stock exchange in the world. American start to feel that USA is changing : the majority of the middle and working class are in a sombre mood, the inequalities and the insecurity are increasing and so are their personal debt. To Cox’s point of view, even if USA is stile a refence point, challenging times are now arrived.