ON-Lion Letter
Bradley Prize recipient Charles Krauthammer delivered the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research's 22nd annual Wriston Lecture in New York City in early October.  An adaptation of the lecture, "Decline is a Choice," is the cover article of The Weekly Standard's October 19 issue.
 
"The question of whether America is in decline cannot be answered yes or no," according to Krauthammer.  "There is no yes or no.  Both answers are wrong, because the assumption that somehow there exists some predetermined inevitable trajectory, the result of uncontrollable external forces, is wrong.  Nothing is inevitable.  Nothing is written.  For America today, decline is not a condition.  Decline is a choice.  Two decades into the unipolar world that came about with the fall of the Soviet Union, America is in the position of deciding whether to abdicate or retain its dominance. Decline -- or continued ascendancy -- is in our hands.

"The ascendant New Liberalism," the nationally syndicated columnist and commentator for Fox News believes, is "actively seeking to subsume America within the international community -- inter pares, not even primus -- and to enact a domestic social agenda to suit.  So why not?  Why not choose ease and bask in the adulation of the world as we serially renounce, withdraw, and concede?

"Because, while globalization has produced in some the illusion that human nature has changed, it has not," says Krauthammer, who was introduced by Manhattan Institute chairman Paul Singer.  "The international arena remains a Hobbesian state of nature in which countries naturally strive for power.  If we voluntarily renounce much of ours, others will not follow suit.  They will fill the vacuum.  Inevitably, an inversion of power relations will occur.

"We can reverse the slide," Krauthammer concludes, urging us to "[r]esist retreat as a matter of strategy and principle.  And provide the means to continue our dominant role in the world by keeping our economic house in order."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports the Manhattan Institute, whose Wriston Lecture series honors Walter B. Wriston -- banker, author, government advisor, and longtime member of the Institute's distinguished board of trustees.  Video of this year's Wriston Lecture is available online.
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