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Manufacturing Decline

Journalists love stories about American decline — not necessarily because they are anti-American, but because they are journalists.   “American Global Position Largely Unchanged” is not a headline that sells papers.

This FT column on US-China relations is a good example of ‘manufactured decline’.  The writer correctly notes that Secretary Clinton sought to bind China into the international trading order on her recent trip.  But then he goes off into never never land.  Once, he says, the US was so powerful that we could get China to behave as we wished.  Now those days are gone and the US must beg for favors.

Horse feathers.  There was never a time when the US had that kind of power in China.  Nixon couldn’t dictate terms to his Chinese hosts in the early 1970s, despite the fact that China was isolated from the USSR and vulnerable at the time. While still decades away from its current position of ascendance, China wrangled with the US over intellectual property rights and human rights throughout the 1980s and 90s. It thumbed its nose at President Clinton’s attempt to push a human rights agenda at the start of his term — and Clinton had no choice but to back down.  The standoffs we see today are nothing new.

In Asia particularly America has never had such good relations with so many countries and its core vision for the region has never been as widely popular as it is now; if this is decline, give me more.

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