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America is broke, and needs its old friends

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The end of the American empire has long been foretold. But it's not hubris or hostile action that brings it low. It's a lack of readies, meaning unpaid, high-interest, foreign-owned debt, and an unaffordable lifestyle. And unlike the postwar period, when a Europe with common interests, a broadly similar political outlook, and shared values passed the security baton to the US, America has no like-minded, amicable successor to turn to as its own power fades. Quite the opposite, in fact.

China, the country most likely to replace the US some time this century as the world's top dog, has sent blunt signals in recent months indicating how very different a post-American world will look. At Copenhagen, by many accounts, it played spoiler against the developed world, deliberately humbling Obama. It made political advantage, not climate change, the most pressing issue.


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