New World Coming: America’s Manufacturing Rebound

The reinvention of the U.S. industrial sector promises far-reaching global consequences

Pushing back against the deluge of punditry about America’s strategic eclipse, my last post argued that the U.S. global position is being bolstered greatly by a revolution in domestic energy production that began to take shape in the past few years.  Although it has not received as much attention, a looming rebound in the manufacturing sector will reinforce this outcome.  Like the energy renaissance, America’s industrial rebirth promises to have far-reaching global consequences.

The story of America’s Rust Belt – the leaching away over the past few decades of manufacturing capacity to lower-cost locales overseas, especially China – has become a byword for U.S. national decline, so much so that in February 2011the U.S. intelligence community launched an inter-agency assessment about the security implications of waning manufacturing activity in America. Continue reading

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New World Coming: America the Energy Superpower

The energy boom upends arguments about the inevitability of U.S. strategic decline

A previous post peered into the crystal ball to argue that America’s strategic prospects are dramatically brightening due to an unexpectedly improving energy outlook and the looming revitalization of its manufacturing base.  This thesis cuts against the reigning anxiety about the nation’s economic course as well as the torrent of prophesying about how China is poised to eat America’s lunch.*  A subsequent post extended this theme to suggest that among the foreign policy implications of the U.S. energy boom would be the denouement of Russia’s great power aspirations and the restoration of U.S. soft power.

In the few months since these two posts, other analysts have amplified these points and offered others worth pondering.  The present post focuses on the energy side of the story, while my next one will pick up the manufacturing side.

As a starting point, consider the sheer magnitude of the U.S. energy bonanza. Continue reading

The “Smart Power” Approach toward Pakistan Needs Work

Winning over Pakistani hearts and minds is proving difficult

Two new reports provide further insight into the breakdown of U.S.-Pakistan relations.  The first, put out by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, charts the growing hostility of Pakistani public opinion toward the United States.  The second, issued by the International Crisis Group (ICG), a respected non-governmental organization, argues that the record level of military and civilian assistance the U.S. provides Pakistan has failed to deliver much in the way of counter-terrorism dividends or help advance the country’s fragile democratic transition.  Taken together, both call into question the implementation of the Obama administration’s “smart power” approach toward Pakistan, which was suppose to balance the use of military force with the tools of diplomacy and development. Continue reading