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August 1, 2012 - News

BY Sherri Greenberg, Director of the LBJ School's Center for Politics and Governance

It was a night of insurgents and upsets. At the top of the ballot, Ted Cruz, former Texas solicitor general, rode his wave of enthusiasm to victory last night, defeating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Republican primary runoff for the U.S. Senate. The Cruz victory grabbed headlines nationwide as a decisive Tea Party victory in the second most populous state in the country. Cruz will face the winner of the Democratic runoff, Paul Sadler, in November, but in this red state, Cruz is the presumptive favorite.

July 30, 2012 - News

LBJ School faculty and students explored the question "Is America in Decline?" for the  National Intelligence Council (NIC) blog series, "Global Trends 2030".  Global Trends 2030  explores selected selected topics to be raised in the NIC's upcoming Global Trends 2030 publication. The blog was guest edited by LBJ School Professor William Inboden.

July 30, 2012 - News

BY William Inboden, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs
This article originally appeared in National Intelligence Council's blog "Global Trends 2030" on July 27, 2012.

Lamenting American decline is as American as, to borrow a phrase, baseball and apple pie. As the Yale historian Harry Stout has shown, even before the United States was a nation, as early as the 17th century Puritan ministers in New England regularly warned their flocks against the dangers of “declension” from their spiritual commitments and their calling to forge a new society. Such jeremiads a century before the founding of the American nation seem to have been subsequently hardwired into our national DNA. More recently, as Celeste Ward Gventer and Joseph Joffe have pointed out, the US has, almost like clockwork, every decade undergone hand-wringing over our looming decline – anxieties that, not coincidentally, occurred alongside America’s ascent to global superpower status. So the 1950s brought Sputnik and worries of the lost American edge in science and technology; the 1960s had the “missile gap” and descent into the Vietnam quagmire; the 1970s witnessed the oil embargo, recession and inflation, and declining global influence; the 1980s saw the rise of Japan as the dynamic economic competitor, and so on. Every decade, it seems, Americans fret that our nation is in decline.

July 30, 2012 - News

BY Catherine Weaver, Associate Professor of Public Affairs
This article originally appeared in National Intelligence Council's blog "Global Trends 2030" on July 27, 2012.

Robert Keohane, in a recent Foreign Affairs review article, warns that pundits pondering US decline inevitably draw the wrong conclusions when they neglect the broader institutional context in which US power, for better or worse, is firmly substantiated. He is absolutely right. One of the key lessons instilled in any student of international relations of the 20th century is that hegemonic power is often embedded in and exercised through international organizations. These multilateral organizations lock in systems of global governance that preserve the influence of their creator states even when their relative power wanes. One need only look briefly at the history of venerable postwar international institutions to observe how these organizations have served US interests in the world over the past several decades.

July 30, 2012 - News

BY Adam Parker, Master of Global Policy Studies student
This article originally appeared in National Intelligence Council's blog "Global Trends 2030" on July 26, 2012.

In international relations, measures of power are usually relative. Depending on the measure or definition of power, however, this relativity can be quite different. This has important implications for any discussion of American decline. One way to think about this is to attempt to measure aggregate capabilities: what can a given state do? This is a relative measure because the answer to the question depends on the powers of other states (Liechtenstein can’t successfully invade Germany, for instance). The second way to think about power would be to compare these aggregate capabilities: what can a state do that another state can’t? These two measures are distinct, but discussions about American decline often fail to adequately separate them.

July 30, 2012 - News

BY Megan Reiss, LBJ School Ph.D. student
This article originally appeared in National Intelligence Council's blog "Global Trends 2030" on July 26, 2012.

The implications of US power decline are great. In the Global Trends 2030 report, three scenarios about the way the world could look in 2030 are introduced. The first is a reverse engines scenario, whereby the US becomes fairly isolationist, current conflicts erupt, the world economy slows and even technology flatlines. In a fragmentation scenario, the lack of will to fix the current political, social, economic and governance problems leads to a world with greater risk of conflict, but without the dire predictions of the reversed engines. Finally, the utopian-like projections of the fusion scenario portray an environment where political will to solve problems leads to a prosperous, cooperative world. Of these three scenarios, the report argues that the fragmentation scenario is the most likely to come to fruition, based on the current trends.

July 30, 2012 - News

BY Gustavo O. Fernandez, Master of Global Policy Studies student
This article originally appeared in National Intelligence Council's blog "Global Trends 2030" on July 26, 2012.

When considering the question of American decline, one could point to yawning budget deficits, unaffordable entitlement programs, a creaking infrastructure or the coming ‘fiscal cliff,’ comprised of tax hikes and budget cuts, as domestic factors contributing to an American power in retreat. Internationally, one could cite China’s rise as a potential threat, and another indicator of possible American decline. Yet, when one looks at the country’s demographic projections through 2050 the US has a strong, positive outlook that will make solving these challenges manageable.

July 30, 2012 - News

BY Miha Vindis, LBJ School Ph.D. student
This article originally appeared in National Intelligence Council's blog "Global Trends 2030" on July 25, 2012.

The world has changed in many ways since the Cold War ended. The internet and mobile communication have opened up new possibilities across the world. As high-tech, high-value generating industries are no longer bound by national borders or access to restricted resources, a new world order has began to emerge. In this new world education has become even more important. The US – and the West as a whole – has seen its advantage in economic, technological and defense arenas erode, because we are beginning to fall behind the rest of the world. While the political establishment debates, increasingly on ideological grounds, the future of America is at risk.

July 30, 2012 - News

BY Robert Hutchings, Dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs
This article originally appeared in National Intelligence Council's blog "Global Trends 2030" on July 25, 2012.

In 1994, during a brief stint in the National Intelligence Council as director of its Analytic Group, I was involved in the first of the “Global Trends” exercises, organized by the then-chairman of the NIC, Joe Nye. (The “Global Trends 2010” report was published in early 1997 under the chairmanship of Dick Cooper.) In an essay that I wrote for the project (and later published in a book of mine called At the End of the American Century), I described a world that would remain militarily unipolar, with no power or group of powers capable of matching the global reach of the United States, but with a tripolar distribution of economic power among North America, Europe, and East Asia. Beneath the level of these familiar yardsticks of national power, moreover, I saw not the concentration of power but its diffusion among supranational, subnational and transnational actors beyond the control of any government.

July 30, 2012 - News

BY Larry O'Bryon, Master of Global Policy Studies student
This article originally appeared in National Intelligence Council's blog "Global Trends 2030" on July 25, 2012.

No patriotic American would like to admit that our country is in decline, but how does the evidence stack up? Time for a quick look in the mirror America, to assess what we see.

Economically, we are a society conditioned on too much debt and financial leverage. This conditioning, or addiction even, exists in Americans’ exposure to real estate and credit card debt, Wall Street’s excesses and now an increasingly untenable fiscal situation with our federal government.

Socially, we are concerned with the American middle class struggling with stagnant real wage growth during the past decade. Poverty levels of the population are approaching levels last seen in the 1960s. Images of the suffering in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina still reside in our collective memory, proof that our safety net isn’t what it should be. In education, the US struggles to break the top 20 nations in high school math and science scores.

July 30, 2012 - News

BY Celeste Ward Gventer, Associate Director, The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law
This article originally appeared in National Intelligence Council's blog "Global Trends 2030" on July 24, 2012.

The US has outlasted at least five previous episodes of declinism and in the last hundred years has navigated the dangerous waters of international politics with surprising adroitness. It has bested great power rivals, helped stamp out noxious ideologies, and built enduring global institutions. It has done this without sacrificing the legitimacy of its domestic system or crippling its economy by creating a garrison state. While the country suffers from a variety of pathologies today – fiscal prodigality, declining educational standards and attainment, sclerotic politics, et al – the US also possesses long term advantages compared to its challengers that may end up mattering most for national power in coming decades, as Francis Gavin has pointed out in this forum. If results are what count, America must be doing something right.

July 30, 2012 - News

BY Francis J. Gavin, Tom Slick Professor of International Affairs
This article originally appeared in National Intelligence Council's blog "Global Trends 2030" on July 23, 2012.

Assessing whether the US is in decline requires a better sense of what it is that is declining and compared to who or what. This revolves around the question of state power – what is it, how can it be measured, and how is it different from the past? From about the middle of the seventeenth century until the end of the last, we had a rough sense of how these things worked. Core state power was some combination of wealth, geography, and population that could be translated into military power, which is what really mattered in world politics. This military power was used either to conquer other states, so that the territory and population could be added to the invader’s aggregate power, or to defend or deter such an attack. There were rough measurements of these kinds of things: the soldiers, tanks, ships, sea port access, land mass, rivers, mountains, population and natural resources, etc. within a state could be counted and compared to others, and one could get a sense for which of the powers was rising and which was declining. The US was obviously endowed with great assets in this system, and was the greatest world power throughout the 20th century.

July 30, 2012 - News

BY Jason Brooks, Master of Global Policy Studies student
This article originally appeared in National Intelligence Council's blog "Global Trends 2030" on July 23, 2012.

The only thing declining in America is our own faith in our capacity for hard work, innovation and entrepreneurship. America is relatively strong and poised for another surge in ascendancy. However, this is understandably a contested position, so let us consider the notion of American decline. For a nation to be in decline, it should first be assumed that it is in economic or military decline, or both. Second, it should be assumed that said nation is in decline either relative to the rest of the world or some other nation – usually China is held to be the prime contender. Let’s review each of these propositions in turn, beginning with military decline relative to the rest of the world and then relative to China.

July 30, 2012 - News

BY Jeremi Suri, LBJ School Professor
This article originally appeared in National Intelligence Council's blog "Global Trends 2030" on July 23, 2012.

Vienna was the center of European creativity in the years between 1780 and 1914. It was the city of Mozart and Beethoven. No place could rival its music. It was also the city of Klimt and Kokoschka. Vienna pioneered modern art as we know it. In addition, the Austro-Hungarian capital led the new science of psychoanalysis with the work of Sigmund Freud and his many followers in medicine, philosophy and literature. The mix of ethnicities and cultures in this uniquely cosmopolitan nineteenth century city made it a true crucible of innovation and creativity. You can still see and hear the remnants of that long-gone golden age today in the music, the art and the libraries that have outlasted their political masters.

July 30, 2012 - News

BY William C. Inboden, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs

Following last week’s fascinating contributions from Drew Erdmann and his colleagues on urbanization, I will be moderating this week’s blog discussion and its focus on the question of “American decline.” The current draft of Global Trends 2030 describes three possible future scenarios for the state of the world in 2030. As varied as the scenarios are from each other, what all share in common is the assumption that the power of the United States will decline relative to the rest of the globe. These diverse declinist scenarios project a reduction in American power across several domains, including economic and military strength, and diplomatic and cultural influence. They also posit an array of potential actors accruing a greater share of the global power distribution at the expense of the United States, whether from a new superpower hegemon such as China, or the diffusion of power across a broader spectrum of middle powers around the world, or even the transformation of power as non-state and transnational actors take on greater influence in the international arena.

July 27, 2012 - Event

Event Date: Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm

Annual Alumni Reception in Washington, D.C.

July 27, 2012 - News

Use #GLI2012 to Follow on Twitter

LBJ School Professor Jeremi Suri will lead a weeklong seminar for K-12 teachers and library educators taking place on The University of Texas at Austin campus beginning July 29.

July 25, 2012 - News

LBJ School faculty members delve into the greater ramifications of the recent Supreme Court rulings on the Affordable Health Care Act, immigration and mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders. For state lawmakers and policymakers, the rulings mark just the beginning of what, in some cases, represent major, sweeping changes to state laws and policies.

July 25, 2012 - News

BY Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, LBJ School Adjunct Professor

The political implications of the Supreme Court’s SB 1070 ruling are a wash as far as the November election is concerned. On the one hand, the President can point to three out of the four provisions being blocked. On the other hand, Romney and the GOP can point to the heart of SB 1070, the “show me your papers” clause, standing intact.

July 25, 2012 - News

BY David Warner, Wilbur J. Cohen Professor in Health and Social Policy

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act means that changes already implemented will remain and projected changes in availability of insurance, penalties for those who do not obtain coverage, changes in taxes and fees and optional expansion of state Medicaid programs will all proceed as legislated in 2010.

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