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Declinists Be Damned: Bet on America

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  • Is American Decline Relative?

    Clip: Debaters argue whether or not a possible decline in America's fortunes should be argued relative to other countries around the world.

  • Peter Zeihan: Millennials Are REALLY Special

    Clip: Peter Zeihan, author of The Accidental Superpower, makes the case that America's strong Gen-Y demographic will keep its economy strong while other countries will suffer from population declines.

  • Is U.S. Education Bringing America Down?

    Clip: Canadian MP Chrystia Freeland and Stanford Fellow Josef Joffe spar over the quality of American education and access and opportunity for the middle and lower class.

Debate Details

America owes $6 trillion to China, our sprawling military complex often appears helpless against disparate threats abroad, and the War on Terror has stripped us of the moral high ground. Washington is paralyzed by bitter partisanship, our children are falling behind their international peers, and our middle class is no longer the world’s most affluent. But we’ve been warned about America’s decline before. Remember Sputnik? Yes, times are tough, but America is recovering from the Great Recession faster than almost any other advanced country, an energy boom could add billions to the GDP, we’re still a leader in technological innovation, and our military strength and geopolitical advantages remain unrivaled. Are our best days behind us, or should the world still bet on America?

The Debaters

For the motion

Josef Joffe

Senior Fellow, Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute & Publisher-Editor, Die Zeit

Josef Joffe is the publisher-editor of the German weekly Die Zeit and a senior fellow of Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies... Read More

Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist & Author, The Accidental Superpower

Peter Zeihan is a geopolitical strategist who has lived in the world of international affairs throughout his career. After stints with the Center... Read More

Against the motion

Chrystia Freeland

Member, Parliament of Canada & Journalist

Chrystia Freeland is the Canadian Member of Parliament for the riding of Toronto Centre. After starting as a Ukraine-based stringer for the Financial... Read More

James Rickards

Economist, Investment Banker & Author, The Death of Money

James Rickards is chief global strategist at the West Shore Funds, editor of Strategic Intelligence, a monthly newsletter, and director of The James... Read More

Are our best days behind us, or should the world still bet on America?

For The Motion
  • America's military strength remains unrivaled.
  • The U.S. has recovered from the recession faster than any country besides Germany.
  • America is blessed with geographical advantages—it is insulated by two oceans, held together by a vast network of waterways, and boasts vast stretches of arable land.
  • America is, and will remain, a leader in scientific and technological innovation.
Against The Motion
  • Inequality is on the rise and America's middle class is struggling.
  • Partisan politics has paralyzed government and left Washington incapable of addressing critical issues.
  • America's credibility and moral authority has been badly damaged in our fight against terror—from our detention and interrogation programs to NSA spying and the invasion of Iraq.
  • Despite America's military dominance, the rise of insurgents and terrorism render its conventional forces less effective.


  • Live Audience
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  • Results
  • Breakdown

The Research

The Research

America is No.2! And That's Great News.

Charles Kenny
January 17, 2014

America’s tenure on top is ending because much of the world is becoming more like America in many ways: richer, more democratic, more secure.

Decline Is a Choice

Charles Krauthammer
October 19, 2009

The new liberalism and the end of American ascendancy.

America's Overrated Decline

Joseph Nye
October 6, 2014

Questions about the health of America’s political institutions and the future of its global leadership have become rampant, with some citing partisan gridlock as evidence of America’s decline.

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