Have you heard? America is in decline. "I can't remember when I've been more demoralized about American governance," wrote Kevin Drum in a blog post at Mother Jones last month. "The demise of the United States as the global superpower could come far more quickly than anyone imagines," warned Alfred McCoy at The Huffington Post around the same time. "Is our decline inevitable?" wondered David Hogberg in a summer piece for The American Spectator. "It's harder now to shrug off the America-in-decline theories than ever before," wrote Andrew Nagorski in Newsweek last winter.
This particular bit of rhetoric is so prevalent that deflating it has become its own cottage industry, as shown in the past year by David Bell, Megan McArdle, and, um, The Atlantic Wire. But! According to Gideon Rachman at Foreign Policy, America is really in decline this time, for real. Like for real for real. You guys. For real. America. He's super cereal.
"This time it's different," writes Rachman. "It's certainly true that America has been through cycles of declinism in the past ... Americans can be forgiven if they greet talk of a new challenge from China as just another case of the boy who cried wolf. But a frequently overlooked fact about that fable is that the boy was eventually proved right. The wolf did arrive--and China is the wolf."
Rachman goes on to provide what is actually a pretty cogent analysis of China's strengths and advantages, and how inertia could easily cost America its position of global prominence in the next couple of decades. But we can't hear you, Rachman! We are too busy running from the hellmouths erupting everywhere.