Victor Davis Hanson: Back to the Pre-American World The declinists insist we have no choice. Globalization has spread power. America has depleted its resources, both natural and financial. And our prior leadership abroad is something worthy of apology rather than pride anyway. Think of receding postcolonial Britain around 1946 as our model, not the confident, rising postwar United States of Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

But decline is always a choice, not an inevitable fate. America's known fossil-fuel reserves -- natural gas, oil, coal, shale, tar-sands -- are larger than ever. The problem is not finding more energy but marshaling the will to use the vast new sources of energy we have recently discovered.

Our military is not just larger than the alternatives, but vastly larger and ever more lethal. Given the enormous size and productivity of the U.S. economy, we have the means -- but not yet the will -- to rapidly pay down our huge debt. In a world short on food, America is the world's greatest agricultural producer.

Other industrialized populations age and decline; ours is still growing. America is widely criticized abroad even as it remains by far the favored destination of global immigrants. Diverse religious practice is still vibrant in the United States. Elsewhere, it is fossilized in Europe, nonexistent in China, and intolerant in the Middle East.

While riots, strikes or revolutions sweep southern Europe and the Middle East, the United States remains stable and quiet -- despite far greater racial, ethnic and religious diversity. Globalization is still mostly a phenomenon of American innovation and originality to be licensed and outsourced abroad.

There have been plenty of thugs who threatened their neighbors over the last 30 years. Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Manuel Noriega and the Taliban were all deposed from rule only by American power. The "lost" war in Iraq resulted in a democratic and, for now, still viable government in place of genocide. Afghanistan is depressing, but the medieval Taliban still have remained out of power for nearly a decade.

In short, the old pre-American world was as unstable and dangerous as would be a new post-American update. But both retrenchments were choices that an unsure and depressed United States made -- not symptoms, then or now, of inherent weakness or inevitable decline. More: