A central quote would be this, I think:
“Theories of America’s obsolescence aspire to the status of science. But cycles of declinism tend to have a political subtext and, however impeccable the historical methodology that generates them seems to be, they often function as ideology by other means. “
Are Fareed Zakaria and Parag Khanna simply making cyclic declinist arguments, drawing erroneous conclusions from perhaps erroneous ideas?
Leiber offers some examples of potential “challengers:”
1. The EU is too politically fractured to make common domestic, let alone, foreign policy (and to raise an army) and direct its will abroad. It also has a low birth rate.
2. Russia is politically disorganized, still in internal decline, and relying too heavily on oil and natural gas. It has its many, many of its own problems.
3. Japan and India, while strong, are more closely alligned than ever with American interests, largely because of China.
4. China, to whom we owe:
“A huge trade surplus…the accumulation of $1.5 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, the bulk of it invested in U.S. government securities.”
…also has its own internal and political issues and while increasingly economically and politically infuential, it isn’t there yet.
Are you persuaded?