Is the American Century Over?
January 2015, Polity
For more than a century, the United States has been the world's most powerful state. Now some analysts predict that China will soon take its place. Does this mean that we are living in a post-American world? Will China's rapid rise spark a new Cold War between the two titans?
In this compelling essay, world renowned foreign policy analyst, Joseph Nye, explains why the American century is far from over and what the US must do to retain its lead in an era of increasingly diffuse power politics. America's superpower status may well be tempered by its own domestic problems and China's economic boom, he argues, but its military, economic and soft power capabilities will continue to outstrip those of its closest rivals for decades to come.
Chapter 1 The Creation of the American Century
Chapter 2 Is America in Decline?
Chapter 3 Challengers and Relative Decline
Chapter 4 The Rise of China
Chapter 5 Absolute Decline: Is the U.S. Like Rome?
Chapter 6 Power Shifts and Global Complexity
Chapter 7 Conclusions
"A professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and one of the most esteemed analysts of world affairs, Nye has been countering declinism for a quarter century, beginning with his 1990 book Bound to Lead. The brevity of his latest text belies its sweep, and judging by the reception it has received, even among those who are considerably less optimistic about America's prospects...one suspects it will endure as a central text of the anti-declinist oeuvre."
Ali Wyne, American Interest
"In his clear, short, and closely reasoned book, Nye presents a far different view of American power, making some unfashionable but compelling arguments. Nye believes that the American century is far from over and that for the foreseeable future, the United States will retain a unique ability to shape global events."
Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Affairs
"Nye outlines each issue briskly, with economy and precision, creating an ideal primer for anyone wishing to better understand the global stage and where America stands on it."
LA Review of Books
"Nye does the great service of examining this claim in his new book, Is the American Century Over?, giving a subtle analysis in terms of hard power (military and economic) and soft power (a concept introduced by Nye to refer to an attractive practice, at least a model or ideals such as liberty or democracy)."
Is the American Century Over? is an excellent book that will help students of international affairs think carefully about the world and America s opportunities and challenges in the 21st century. It s brief, succinct and provocative."
The Washington Diplomat
"Academics and political junkies will probably breeze through Is the American Century Over? But the book is so well-written and accessible, general readers are likely to find it engaging and insightful as well. At its core, policy-oriented research and writing should strive to inform not just specialists or experts, but the public at large, making Nye's contribution to debates about America's purported decline that much more important."
This short, well-argued book offers a powerful rebuttal to America's premature obituarists.
A pioneer in the theory of soft power and the dean of American political scientists, Nye knows geopolitics. In his new book, Is the American Century Over?, Nye makes a strong case that American geopolitical superiority, far from being eclipsed, is still firmly in place and set to endure. And the biggest threat isn t China or India or Russia it's America itself.
In this short, thoughtful book, Nye presents his case convincingly. It is a case that policy makers should ponder carefully.
The United States will likely remain the world's predominant power for many decades to come, Joe Nye concludes in his insightful new book. This welcome prediction is tempered by Nye s warning about key challenges that could yet lead to American decline, most notably, political dysfunction at home.
The Boston Globe
US declinism can be overdone. In an excellent new essay asking Is the American Century Over? the Harvard scholar Joseph Nye points up America's enduring strengths economic, demographic and geographic as well as military.
"With his usual clarity and insight, Joe Nye gives us a fascinating analysis of the complexities of power, exploring hard and soft power, state and non-state actors, and how to retain leadership once domination is over. European readers have much to learn from the U.S. experience and its lessons for the evolution of the EU."
Mario Monti, Prime Minister of Italy (2011 13) and President of Bocconi University
"The future of American power is the great question of our century. No-one is better equipped than Joe Nye to answer it."
Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, USAF (Ret.), former Presidential National Security Advisor
"This calm, reflective, and thoughtful antidote to alarm about American decline displays Nye's astonishing capacity to engage with the full range of challenges to American leadership."
Michael Ignatieff, Harvard Kennedy School
"In this timely, compact book, Joe Nye makes a 'powerful' case for the continuation of American primacy through diplomacy and co-operation. This strategy would not be overstretch or retrenchment but instead the application of American Exceptionalism to shrewd power."
Robert B. Zoellick, former President of the World Bank Group, US Trade Representative and US Deputy Secretary of State
"The irreversibility of American decline is no longer a given. Joe Nye's compelling analysis shows that the future of the international order, and the respective roles of the US and China within it, will be shaped by a range of core domestic and foreign policy choices, rather than by some overwhelming, determinist, historical force that has somehow already decided the "natural" dimensions, depth and duration of American power. The history of nations, as Joe Nye rightly asserts, is a more dynamic process than that."
Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia
"Joe Nye is always worth reading - objective without being aloof, insightful without lecturing. Our disordered world needs answers to the challenges posed here."
David Miliband, UK Foreign Secretary 2007-2010
"Nye's masterful analysis shows the defenders of America's continued primacy how to make their most credible case while forcing the declinists to engage with its arguments, and even rethink their assumptions."
Amitav Acharya, American University and author of The End of American World Order
"In this tour de force Joe Nye proves that smart books about big ideas are best served in small packages: and if you are looking for one volume to read on a topic about which so much nonsense has been written since the disaster that was the Bush administration, this is the one to go for. Balanced, accessible, informed - but above all, wise - Nye demonstrates once more why he continues to influence the way we all think about the world."
Michael Cox, LSE IDEAS
"Joe Nye's clear-eyed analysis makes a very compelling case that the 'American century' is far from over, even though with a less preponderant America and a more complex world, its next chapter will look different. It s not the sexiest argument. But utterly convincing."
Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference and former German Ambassador to the United States
"Joe Nye's clear eyed assessments of America's place in the world have set the terms of the debate for more than a quarter century. This important book updates Nye's thinking and is an immensely valuable corrective to the pessimism and the complacency that are all too common in debates about America's future."
Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard University
"As Joseph S. Nye, Jr. brilliantly articulates, there are numerous challenges and challengers which will push the United States as the premier nation in the world over the next few decades. Bringing an objective, critical analysis and years of experience in economics and politics, Nye's Is the American Century Over? is both a cautionary tale for the patriotic and a celebration of emerging nations.