One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere


The self-anointed dismantler of foreign policy cliches, Robert Kagan, has, unsurprisingly, all but embraced the tired favorite of Republicans in every election: the charge of defeatism. This time, the culprits are “declinists,” and — surprise, surprise — Barack Obama is their white flag of surrender-wielding standard bearer.

What Kagan calls “faddish declinism” is not really much of either.  While, sure, there’s an inclination to be “declinist” as much as there is to be “pessimistic,” the examples from successive decades that he cites — “limits of our power,” “imperial overstretch,” “lonely superpower,” and “post-American world” — are in fact very different phenomena, not all merely wails of America-hating defeatists.

The “decline” of America is a debatable, and in many ways meaningless, assertion, but Kagan could do a bit more to engage with the charge.  He clearly misrepresents Fareed Zakaria’s argument — the world is not “post-American” because we no longer boast since 1893 have not boasted the world’s largest Ferris wheel — and a cursory mention of various crises in history do little to negate the painfully obvious point that America is not very well liked at the moment.

But, Election Day is Tuesday, and the Robert Kagans of right-wing punditry have to write something.  So, Barack Obama is a defeatist.  And America is great.

October 30, 2008 - Posted by | Conservatives, U.S. politics | ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] of the declinists The spectre of “declinism” is back.  Robert Kagan Kaplan proves that he is very much a top-down, old-school, […]

    Pingback by Return of the declinists « Boondoggle | December 17, 2008 | Reply

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