Not only is the U.S. losing its ability to shape world events; the U.S. is being shaped by other nations that are controlling its destiny from abroad.
As we watch the United States and the rest of the British-descended nations of the world struggling to manage an ever mounting number of threats, foreign and domestic, it is prudent to contemplate what the average person's life would be like without America. All over the globe, in spite of their distaste for U.S. international policies, people still yearn to come to the United States to participate in the "American dream." After all, even with its many real or imagined faults, it is still perceived as one of the best places on earth to find personal freedom and economic opportunity.
For decades, the United States has been the world's "breadbasket," providing about half of the food consumed by the hungry masses of the "third world" nations. The U.S. has been a generous benefactor, lending to troubled regions and then forgiving loan debts when struggling nations could not repay. Even those nations that had "lost" a war against the U.S. emerged victorious in a sense, financially speaking, thanks to generous American post-war reconstruction aid. The U.S. gave post-war Germany and Japan the means to become fierce economic competitors against the nation that had "defeated" them in battle. Searching the pages of history, one would be hard-pressed to find a more magnanimous antagonist than America.
Because of its unique status as a world super-power, the U.S. has come to be seen as arrogant, even by many nations it once counted as friends. Enemies and supporters alike have noted increasing signs of hypocrisy from a nation that once presented itself as an idealized "shining city on a hill." On the one hand, American foreign policy talks of its desire to export democracy to the world; on the other hand, American foreign aid props up undemocratic nations. Around the world, America today is less known for its massive food exports than for its exports of military power and perverse entertainment. As the world economy sours, and major American financial institutions are being exposed for their greedy and deceptive financial practices, America is being seen not as the engine driving world prosperity, but rather as an out-of-control locomotive that will soon pull the world into an economic train-wreck!
More than 200 years ago, the original 13 American colonies broke away from the British crown. The young U.S. held high its lofty ideals of freedom, and awakened the desire for freedom in the hearts of oppressed and downtrodden peoples around the globe. Now, however, the U.S. is increasingly seen as a bully that needs to be taken down for the good of the planet.
As long-time readers of Tomorrow's World realize, Bible prophecy reveals that the enemies of the U.S. will ultimately succeed in their efforts to destroy that once-proud nation. The U.S. has been sowing the seeds of its own destruction, but Bible prophecy also reveals that although some tough times are ahead, the long-term future for the peoples of the U.S. is awesome and wonderful.
Last May, Newsweek magazine published an insightful look at the decline of the U.S. and its implications for the world scene. Political analyst Fareed Zakaria observed, "For the first time in living memory, the United States does not seem to be leading the charge. Americans see that a new world is coming into being, but fear it is one being shaped in distant lands and by foreign people" ("The Rise of the Rest," May 12, 2008).
Not only is the U.S. losing its ability to shape world events; the U.S. is being shaped by other nations that are controlling its destiny from abroad. Those nations whom your Bible identifies as descended from the "Lost Ten Tribes" of ancient Israel are still magnets for immigrants seeking a better life (see "When Cultures Clash" on page 22 of this issue). Although the U.S. is hated for the war and perversity it is perceived as exporting, millions of people still see it as a land where they can find a better life.
But will the U.S. be able to offer that better life for much longer? Bogged down by an intractable war in the Middle East, as well as by an economic downturn and double-digit inflation, Americans are starting to lose confidence in their future. As one news report put it, "a battered public seems discouraged by the onslaught of dispiriting things. An Associated Press-Ipsos poll says a barrel-scraping 17 percent of people surveyed believe the country is moving in the right direction" ("Everything seemingly is spinning out of control," Associated Press, June 21, 2008).
America is now reeling. It is suffering the devastation of natural disasters large and small, such as Hurricane Katrina and the Midwest floods of this past summer, along with increasing droughts and other weather calamities. Several American industries, which once provided many well-paying jobs, are on the ropes or in ruins. The price of basic foodstuffs and fuel is skyrocketing. No wonder so many are losing confidence in their nation's future! Americans increasingly feel helpless as they watch other nations achieve prominence on the world stage. There is a sense that something is going terribly wrong while the world thrashes about, seeking new leadership. And there is a new leader on the horizon: the nations of the European Union are organizing to fill the void left by a declining U.S., just as foretold in Bible prophecy.
What exactly is good leadership? Down through the history of the human race, countless nations have experimented with almost every imaginable form of government. Kingdoms, oligarchies, republics, democracies, dictatorships and anarchies have come and gone. Feudalism, socialism, communism and capitalism—under their various guises—have all proven to be unstable and unsustainable economic systems. "Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime! Has not the Lord Almighty determined that the people's labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?" (Habakkuk 2:12–13, NIV).
There is one form of government that is guaranteed to bring lasting peace and prosperity—yet neither the U.S. nor any other nation today is willing to consider it. The laws of that government are found in the pages of your Bible! The Head of that government is the God who created us, and who sustains us.
Millennia ago, God decreed punishments that His people would suffer in increasing degree until they return to Him. He makes it clear what human beings must do—and must not do—in order to receive His blessings (Leviticus 26:1–8). He also describes the progressive horrors that will come upon those who disobey Him (vv. 14–39). Reading those words, can we deny that the U.S. is now under a curse from the Almighty? If the U.S. continues on its present course, it will cease to exist and its peoples will be scattered to the four corners of the globe. Yet even then, God will take us back—individually as well as nationally—if we call out to Him from our captivity (vv. 40–46).
Yes, America is in decline. But there is deliverance for its people—and for all the peoples of the earth—at Christ's return. Until then, it is up to us as individuals to "buck the trend" and turn back to our God, individually, so that we may receive His blessings and be spared the worst of the terrible times ahead. Will you respond to Him?