Why is Brazil not a superpower

September 11, 2001

Jana Puglierin

To person

Dr. des. phil., born 1978; Research Associate in the German Bundestag, Office Roderich Kiesewetter MdB, German Bundestag, Platz der Republik 1, 11011 Berlin. [email protected]

Christoph Schwarz

To person

M.A., born 1977; Research assistant at the Institute for Political Science, Focus on International Relations and Political Economy, RWTH Aachen University, Ahornstrasse 55, 52074 Aachen. [email protected]

The US policy since September 11, 2001 has meant that the US can no longer maintain its unique position of power in the international system in the long term. But all swan songs have so far always proven to be premature.


Once again there is doom and gloom in America. After the self-inflation at the beginning of the new millennium, when Charles Krauthammer certified the United States as absolute superpower, [1] the thesis of the decline of the United States has been invoked again for some time. The foreign and domestic policy of the country since September 11, 2001, so the tenor of the swan song, would have meant that the USA could no longer maintain its unique position of power in the international system in the long term. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, fought in the name of the fight against terrorism, are cited as evidence that the military missions are overwhelming the army and overstretching the country.

The enormous costs of these wars, the massive national debt (also associated with it) and a devastating economic and financial policy would have initiated the economic decline of the USA. Through the invasion of Iraq, which is not covered by international law, the atrocities in Abu Ghraib, the arbitrary rule in Guantanamo and the restriction of civil rights through the USA Patriot Act (law to combat terrorism and strengthen national cohesion), the United States would also have massively affected Lost credibility and attraction. After all, the "declineists" see America's decline being accelerated by the rise of rising powers such as China and India.

The thesis of the American decline is by no means a new phenomenon - and all swan songs have so far always proven to be premature. In the late 1950s, the "Sputnik shock" triggered fears similar to those of today. This was followed by the "Missile Gap" of John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign and the "Carter Malaise" in the late 1970s. In the 1980s there was fear of the rise of Japan and worries about American competitiveness. In 1987 Paul Kennedy wrote in his bestseller The Rise and Fall of Great Powers the "imperial overstretch" brought about. [2] Just a few years later, the Cold War ended with a victory for the West, the Soviet empire collapsed, the Japanese economy stagnated, and the US, the only remaining superpower, was economically, militarily, diplomatically and culturally more powerful than ever. In the early 21st century, the United States accounted for five percent of the total population, accounting for a quarter of global economic output and nearly half of all global military spending. In addition, they had a strong cultural radiance. [3]

But must the current swan song for the USA be wrong simply because they have not come true in the past? Or have the policies of the Bush administration that began after "9/11" and the wars waged in the name of the fight against terrorism actually led to a loss of power in the USA? Instead of "Bound to Lead" [4] now "Bound to Decline"?