My weekly GlobalPost column …
NEW YORK, New York — Through the patriotic haze of an American political campaign year, it is tempting to believe our own hooey.
America is exceptional and not in decline, Barack Obama insisted in his most recent State of the Union address. Mitt Romney, his leading GOP rival, insists against the opinion of most economists that the US economy can achieve average annual growth of 4 percent a year and anyone who says otherwise is a defeatist.
In fact, both are dead wrong. Gravity does affect the US just like any other nation, and 4 percent average annual growth for a mature economy is a pipedream.
US power — measured in terms of its relative economic importance and its diplomatic influence — is slipping all over the planet. US influence was written off as irrelevant in Europe’s debt crisis, and is being chased out of the Middle East by popular consent and unhappy results on the Iraqi and Afghan battlefields. In Latin America, America’s “backyard,” Washington’s writ increasingly is displaced by Brazil, just as it has been checked by Russia in the post-Soviet “near abroad.”