Friday, 21 May 2010

American Declinism - Obama's mission

In the article Obama and the end of Hegemonic Declinism taken from U.S. blog The Duck of Minerva, the writer discusses how America needs fundamental reform to "avoid a precipitous fall from grace". Written in July 2008, this was before the election of Barack Obama but his policies and the possible potential of his presidency drive the article. Examples of America's decline include a comparison with "the rise of China" and a "resurgent Europe" where even NBA stars are transferring to Europe for better pay. Both of these points suggest that America has lost its "edge".

The writer focuses on how in current World Affairs the recent phase of American Declinism has been attacked and it can be traced back to a general untertainty in regards to American politics. With its "political subtext", America's declinism has not only been caused by arguments over events but also by a fierce reaction to Bush's presidency. Statistics are given suggesting that the majority of Americans were dissatisfied with the direction the country during Bush's presidency as 80% of respondents said that the country was on the "wrong track". It is identified that this is a level of dissatisfaction that has not been seen since the early 1990s and the article emphasises how rampant declinism has occurred in America almost two decades on.

America's decline in "global power" is mentioned and again the article leans towards suggesting that America should adapt its policies to accommodate the "rise of the rest". However, others argue that such calls for reform are pointless as America's structural advantages in the sense of its "size, wealth, human and material resources, military strength, competetiveness, liberal political and economic traditions, flexibility, dynamism and capacity for reinvention" (<--- whoa!) matter much more than economic cycles, trade imbalances and Anti-Americanism and I have to agree; America always finds away to bounce back with so many of its "weapons" (advantages).

With canditates "running away from the Bush administration as either a maverick or agent of change", a renewal of American social purpose is suggested. Obama however capitialised on this not only in terms of renewing American hegemony, but politically as well. His message of "hope" and "change" triggered a "political awakening", especially among younger voters who were previously alienated from politics. Rather than presenting an American mission, Obama has presented a global mission; desipte the resulting actions loosely following a similar path of decline (such as more troops in Afghanistan), the social purposes of these actions are significantly different since they seek a more global purpose and "it is that renewal of social purpose that can arrest the very real sense of decline in the present hegemonic order".

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