FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Does America Risk Global Decline?

We are so used to thinking of the US as the "leader of the free world" and "the world's only superpower" that we may fail to heed warning signs pointing to a loss of America's global edge. In a recent essay, Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakaria compares America's current world position with that of Great Britain in the 1890's -- a time when few imagined that any entity other than the British Empire could dominate the globe:

Well, Americans have replaced Britons atop the world, and we are now worried that history is happening to us. History has arrived in the form of "Three Billion New Capitalists," as Clyde Prestowitz's recent book puts it, people from countries like China, India and the former Soviet Union, which all once scorned the global market economy but are now enthusiastic and increasingly sophisticated participants in it. They are poorer, hungrier and in some cases well trained, and will inevitably compete with Americans and America for a slice of the pie. A Goldman Sachs study concludes that by 2045, China will be the largest economy in the world, replacing the United States.

Zakaria doesn't think America's decline is inevitable -- in fact, he cites many areas of unparalleled US leadership and excellence -- he warns that our continued neglect of our infrastructure, combined with losses in technical and manufacturing expertise, could very well compromise America's position on the world stage in the coming years.

RELATED: Seed magazine asks a damn good question: "How come scientists are famous in Asia, and we get Kevin Federline?"