The Decline and Fall of the American Republic
Harvard University Press (Inbooks), $42.95 hb, 270 pp, 9780674057036
As people around the world watch events in the United States, many will agree that it is indeed an exceptional, if conflicted, nation. The sole superpower, with the world’s largest economy and the most powerful military ever known, is hugely in debt, and struggles agonisingly just to produce a federal budget. The nation with the world’s best universities and hospitals has an inequitable education and health system, decaying public infrastructure, and high rates of imprisonment. The American people fought a war of independence, developed electricity and telephony, adopted decimal currency, founded the United Nations, put men and women in space, created rock and roll, and devised the Internet; yet to this day they perpetuate creationism, capital punishment, gun rights, and imperial measurement. The country’s full military capacity is too lethal to be used for most purposes, yet its weapons industry continues to produce increasingly sophisticated killing machines. Less than one per cent of Americans surveyed by the New York Times and CBS News in late 2010 and early 2011 considered abortion to be the most important problem facing the United States, yet Republicans who approve huge sums for killing foreigners oppose funding abortions for Americans.