What almost always goes hand in hand with worry about the United States is a tendency to overstate how great things are going in China or India. So not only does the postponement of the Eagles game after a blizzard reflect the “wussification of America,” in Governor Edward Rendell’s memorable phrase, but this could never happen in Beijing or Shanghai. The Chinese would march to the stadium “doing calculus on the way down” (the winter storms of 2008 that stranded thousands of travelers in central and southern China and resulted in the death of over 100 people must have slipped the governor’s mind).
I have been guilty of this myself. Soon after I published “Is America Losing Its Edge?” in Foreign Affairs, I went to India expecting to hear a great deal about America’s decline. While there was huge and justifiable excitement and confidence about the rise of India’s software industry, there was also significant worry about how sustainable it was and how innovative India truly was. And almost every Indian CEO, scientist, and entrepreneur I spoke with cautioned me not to underestimate the resilience of the United States. As C.N.R Rao, Chair of the Prime Minister’s Scientific Advisory Council, put it at a 2008 conference: “America—whether you like it or not, however much you complain, howl and cry—continues to be the centre of science and innovation.”