Conrad Black: Decline, but Not Inevitable Decline

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom and Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full.]

For decades, I have been a militant anti-declinist in terms of America’s place in the world. The United States is a proud, determined, hard-working, talented, patriotic nation and people, and it is not over-extended in the manner of empires of the past that took over the lands of others and eventually collapsed under the weight of the over-ambitious hegemon. Thus came the twilight of all previous empires, from the Persian to the Russian, including several versions of the Chinese, and even the astounding nautical and commercial empire of Holland, built on the acumen and enterprise in the 17th century of scarcely a million avaricious and seafaring Dutch.

But the United States merely uprooted the native Americans (to make way for imported slaves, initially) and then swamped, thinned, or drove them into Canada before the riptide of settlers moving west. It had no interest in hanging on to Cuba, unfortunately for the Cubans, or the Philippines; President Cleveland was opposed even to accepting Hawaii as a territory; and the acquisition of Alaska by Pres. Andrew Johnson was seen as a “folly” for decades. There is no immutable or irresistible force of history ringing down the curtain on America. Yet the country is in decline. It is not logical and is certainly not irreversible, but that is not entirely relevant, because it is happening anyway....

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Jonathan Dresner - 8/26/2010

HNN routinely posts excerpts of news and opinion items related to history: full articles are available at the link below the header. Here is the link to the full NR article. Feel free to discuss it here, or there.

marte hall - 8/26/2010

I could not find the totality of this article here. I gather it's an update of his article in National Review June 17. I would dearly like to be able to see the full article here and some ensuing discussion.