Sensing a weakness of will, hostile nations appear to be ganging up on America. Some consider the United States a second-rate power. What are some of the specific problems, internationally and domestically, and how will they affect America's future?
Late last year Harvard historian Niall Ferguson labeled America as "the nation that fell to earth." In terms of dwindling domestic and international support, the war in Iraq is gradually becoming another Vietnam. In addition, what is currently occurring elsewhere on the international stage highlights the overall problem.
What are the Russians up to?
Recently Russia's President Vladimir Putin traveled to Tehran, where he declared that no other country should interfere militarily or politically in the affairs of the five Caspian bloc nations. Some observers understand this as a clear warning that the United States should not carry out any military action against Iran.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been invited to Moscow for further talks. Only a short time ago the Iranian president was allowed to vent his anger against America inside its own borders, during a visit to the UN headquarters in New York City. As U.S. News and World Report editor-in-chief Mortimer Zuckerman observed, "Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to America to stick his thumb in our eye and deliver a sanitized version of 'Death to America and the Holocaust Never Occurred'" (Oct. 8, 2007, emphasis added throughout).
Russian aid to Iran is nothing short of astonishing. For instance, it is a massive supplier of arms to Tehran, including a $700 million air-defense system.
Naturally both Russia and Iran oppose the eastward movement of NATO. Iran is counting on both Russia and China to oppose any future rounds on sanctions from the UN Security Council.
According to The Guardian, a resurgent Sino-Russian political embrace is already well under way: "Moscow and Beijing are closer now than in the Communist period…They have frustrated Western hopes for sanctions or other tough action on disputes ranging from Burma and Darfur to Iran. They are blocking a solution on Kosovo" (Jonathan Steele, "The Sino-Russian Embrace Leaves the U.S. Out in the Cold," Oct. 12, 2007). Russo/American tensions are clearly on the rise, alarmingly so.
On another issue, Russia is not budging on the American plan for missile defenses in Eastern Europe. A communiqué to USA Today (Oct. 26, 2007) quotes Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov as saying, "We are sticking to our position." The report continued: "The United States says its plan is aimed at Iran. Russia says Iran is years away from being a threat and the U.S. plan undermines Russian military strategies."
Robert Kagan is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He recently analyzed threats to world peace by writing:
"Many hoped the end of the Cold War might herald a genuinely new era in human development. But those expectations proved misplaced. China has not liberalised, but has shored up its autocratic government. Russia has turned from imperfect liberalism decisively towards autocracy… It is folly to expect China to help undermine a brutal regime in Khartoum [Sudan] or to be surprised if Russia rattles its sabre at pro-western democratic governments near its border" ("The World Divides…and Democracy Is at Bay," The Sunday Times, Sept. 2, 2007).
The Turkish conundrum
Turkey, a longtime American ally, is on the point of hindering American plans and intentions in Iraq. A large-scale Turkish incursion into northern Iraq to thwart Kurdish rebels may be imminent. Turkish jets have already attacked Kurdish bases from the air (The Daily Telegraph, Oct. 25, 2007). Clearly any large-scale attack would complicate Washington's plans in this strife-torn country.
At this crucial time of policy differences between the United States and Turkey, the Democratic Party-controlled House of Representatives tried to formally condemn the World War I-era massacre of Armenians by Turks as genocide. However valid the facts may be, the time is highly inopportune. So President George W. Bush has asked the House to think again, and the measure failed. These are not the easiest days for American diplomacy.
A fraying Anglo-American alliance
Another disturbing setback has been a cooling of the normally stable Anglo-American alliance. Gordon Brown is no Tony Blair. The new prime minister is not seen as fully supporting America in the same way.
Increasingly Britain is being sucked into Europe with more concessions of British sovereignty now in the offing should the new EU treaty be approved. As it stands now, the British people will apparently be denied a referendum. Yet only an independent Britain can fully stand shoulder to shoulder with America as new and more deadly challenges to Western civilization present themselves in the months and years ahead.
In 1940 Winston Churchill warned that unless the English-speaking countries triumphed over Nazism, the world would "sink into a new dark age." How much more would this be the case if the West should utterly fail in its war on terrorism?
America and Britain eventually prevailed in two 20th-century world wars. Our own century is not without its own civilizational showdowns. Albeit in different ways, recent trends show America and Britain are gradually being boxed into a corner and that should deeply concern us all.
Most do not understand the crucial importance of the origins of the English-speaking peoples around the world. The historic and prophetic implications will yet prove to be enormous. To understand just how, request or download our free booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy.
We've looked at the international front. Now consider briefly what is happening on the American domestic scene.
America becoming a second-rate power?
Alan Webber is founding editor of the business magazine Fast Company. On a recent business trip to Europe he heard some disturbing thoughts about the United States. At one gathering in Austria the comments came in the form of laments. "You used to be such a great country…What happened to the great idea that once defined America?"
Consider Mr. Webber's personal comment on America, looking at the country from afar: "You realize how far the United States has drifted from its promise, how large the gap is between what we profess and what we do…how diminished our economic superiority has become; and how worn our once impeccable image has become."
The dollar is currently viewed as a second-rate currency in Europe. The euro is looked at as towering over the once vaunted American dollar. Alan Webber asked: "Is there a point where diminished prestige actually becomes diminished economic leadership?"
Summing up, he concluded: "In America, it's business as usual. We've simply learned to accept our way of life, rather than confronting the reality of our decline. Maybe that's what happens to once-rich, once-powerful superpowers as they gradually decline. They lose track of their own standards" ("From Afar, America Resembles a 2nd-Rate Power, USA Today, Oct. 19, 2007).
Confronting the decline of American values
We are all familiar with the length and breadth of the United States (the Atlantic to the Pacific), its fabled strength in diversity, the capacity of one section of the country to come to the aid of another and an awesome ability to bounce back from adversity. Witness the America of the '40s and '50s and briefly even in the '80s. For a brief period after 9/11, moral standards actually improved.
What is disturbing is the persistence of serious moral problems: abortion, pornography, adultery, a growing gay movement and out-of-control personal debt—to name just a few.
In response to the tragedy at Virginia Tech, one reader wrote to a major newsweekly: "Why does it perplex us when these violent eruptions take place? One needs only to channel surf the television any night of the week to see show after show dealing with murder, rape, stalkers, violence toward police, gangs, war and domestic violence" ("Nation in Mourning," Time, Nov. 9, 2007).
America doesn't want the Ten Commandments in its schools or in its public buildings. Yet these laws are the master key to a much-needed moral revival. Summing up God's spiritual law, as revealed in the Bible, they reflect love for both God and neighbor.
You need our free booklet, simply titled The Ten Commandments. This publication shows how we break all 10 in ways we don't even realize anymore. You can obtain your free copy by mail or view it on the Internet at www.ucg.org/booklets . WNP