Is America in decline? Laura Secor for the Boston Globe writes that there is certainly a recent rise in “declinism”.

Wherever anyone believes in progress, someone, possibly the same one, believes in decline. Declinism emerges today from the triumphalism of the right: In our greatness, conservatives say, there is much to lose, and many who threaten us. So, too, does it emerge from the pessimism of the left: Power corrupts, and the corrupt will get their comeuppance. At present, both impulses -- triumphalist and pessimistic, chest-beating and self-lacerating -- are on the upsurge. So too, then, declinism….. . .Many of those who argue that US power is currently ebbing draw on the pathbreaking work of Yale historian Paul Kennedy. In his 1987 classic, "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers," Kennedy analyzed former great powers such as the Netherlands, Austria-Hungary, and Spain. He observed that historically, wars were won and empires sustained by those who possessed superior economic, rather than simply military, strength, and that an excess of foreign commitments left great powers particularly vulnerable.

While empires collapsing has long been the stuff of legend it appears as if there are a greater number of vocal declinists today than in recent memory.

In books released in the last 12 months, the leftist SUNY-Binghamton sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein, Clinton security advisor and Georgetown international relations specialist Charles A. Kupchan, and French demographer Emmanuel Todd contend, for very different reasons, but each with a debt to Kennedy, that Pax Americana has come to a close. America, writes Wallerstein in "The Decline of American Power" (July 2003), is "a lone superpower that lacks true power, a world leader nobody follows and few respect, and a nation drifting dangerously amidst a global chaos it cannot control." That the United States has come unmoored is evident, writes Kupchan in "The End of the American Era" (October 2002), from its "contradictory and incoherent behavior" since the end of the Cold War. And as Todd, author of the French bestseller "Apres l'Empire" (forthcoming in English translation from Columbia University Press), told the British magazine Prospect, in Iraq the United States "used military means in response to a nonmilitary problem. I believe this shows it has lost its omnipotence."

What then to make of all this? Is America in decline or a state of flux reflective of a world immersed in change? What can be done to protect this nation state? What should be done?