Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Center for Global Security Research (CGSR) and Global Security is sponsoring a talk entitled "The Myth of America's Decline." Following the lecture there will be a question and answer session. This is open to the Laboratory.

A provocative and contrarian thesis—filled with great lessons from history—that challenges the pervasive notion that America is on the decline.

Once every decade, it is "decline time" in America. In recent years, it has been the unstoppable rise of China that has spelled "finis America." What the Chinese juggernaut is today, the Soviet Union ("We shall bury you") was in the 1950s. The Vietnam decade of the 1960s was described as America's "collective suicide attempt," while in the 1970s, the United States succumbed to Jimmy Carter's famous "malaise," as the dollar dangerously plummeted. The 1980s unquestionably belonged to a resurgent Japan, the "Rising Sun," whereas in the 1990s, Europe shone forth as an "empire by example." In the naughts, it was "Asia Rising" that became the flavor of the decade. Despite a litany of prognostications, these contenders have all fallen back, one by one. While it may be catnip for the media to play up America as a has-been, Josef Joffe, a leading German commentator and Stanford University academic, compellingly shows that Declinism is not a cold-eyed diagnosis but a device in the style of the ancient prophets: "Thou shalt perish, unless…" Gloom is a prophecy that must be believed so that it will turn out wrong.

Dr. Josef Joffe is publisher-editor of Die Zeit, a Senior Fellow at Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, he is also the Marc and Anita Abramowitz Fellow in International Relations at the Hoover Institution and a courtesy professor of political science at Stanford University.