It matters to all of us whether the United States is in terminal decline or just going through one of those bouts of madness and self-doubt that, from time to time, seem almost to overwhelm America’s better angels. This is more than just a challenge match between American Carnage and American Dream. Rather, it’s whether the anchor of the current global order has the capacity, will and moral fiber to cope with its demons in ways that could underpin a revitalized globalism—which is obviously needed to cope with challenges like Covid and climate that are fundamentally global—or whether we are about to explore a brave new world of post-America.
Of course, the answer is unknowable, but we ought to try to understand the dynamics, identify scenarios, and consider what actions (if any) we can take to help shape a better outcome or, at least, to minimize damage that might come from an America “transfixed by disease, carnage and outrage.”
In the spirit that every journey starts somewhere, our “Hunkered down together” conversation on Thursday, June 11 is an opportunity to begin thinking about how to think about the United States and its future. What do Americans care about? What are the hopes and fears of non-Americans, who have to cope with whatever the United States does to itself, but have no ability to affect the outcome? Is it just about Trump and, in what may be a fairy tale, if he goes away somehow we would pop back to some past golden age? Or is this the skirmish before Thucyides trap war between the fading and legacy powers? Etc.