Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, May 10, 2004
IT'S BEEN A TOUGH SIXTEEN YEARS FOR UNCLE SAM according to Professor Paul Kennedy, warmly endorsed by Peter Thompson on his Breakfast programme.

When the Yale historian, Paul Kennedy published his book The Rise and Fall of Great Powers in 1988, it caused a huge controversy. In the book he argued that throughout history, great powers have risen to a point where they become overextended by their own imperialism. The costs and commitments become too much, and the decline begins. The idea that the United States might reach a point where it would go into decline was not well received in America.

Since Kennedy published the US has seen its only serious competitor collapse, thereby saving Europe from Russian domination, saved the Muslims of Kosovo and the East Timorese, while continuing to underwrite the survival of Japan and Taiwan and other countries like those of Western Europe, .

But, sixteen years on, with the US now the sole superpower, and with concerns over its commitments in several countries - most notably Iraq - some Americans are having a rethink.

And some Americans eat worms for breakfast, like some Australians listen to Peter Thompson.

And one particular author has been waiting sixteen years to find a marketing opportunity for his dud book.