A Subversive on a Hill

With America mired in two wars and our economy in shambles, the chorus of declinists has returned. But the United States will endure because it is an elastic power.

Issue: May-June 2009

DESPITE REGULAR reports of terminal decline, the United States continues to hold on to its preeminent international position. It has been able to do this because of two features which distinguish it from the dominant great powers of the past: American power is based on alliances rather than colonies and is associated with an ideology that is flexible, potentially universal and inherently subversive of alternative ideological forms. Together they provide a core of relationships and values to which America can return even after it has overextended itself in a particular area or decided that intervention in a particular conflict was imprudent and that withdrawal is necessary.

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