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Reports of America's decline are greatly exaggerated

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3. The US military is without parallel. To be sure, it has been stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it remains the strongest fighting force in the world.

As just one indicator of its high-tech advantage, it has mastered stealth flight, while the Russians and Chinese are still in the theoretical planning stages for such technology – far behind America.

4. America's competitors lack good allies. Russia and China are suspicious of each other. Iran is at odds with key Arab countries. North Korea is a pariah. Libya is still in political rehab. Syria is trying to find itself in a globalized world. Meanwhile, the US has cautious but real allies in NATO, the European Union, the G-7 industrialized countries, and elsewhere that help it meet its national and international goals.

5. American ideals are becoming universal. Slowly but surely, self-government, free enterprise, and individual liberty are gaining ground around the world.

Take democracy. A century ago, just 2 of every 10 countries scored a 6 or higher in Freedom House's democracy scale – which ranges from 10 (completely democratic) to minus 10 (completely autocratic). In 2007, nearly 6 in 10 did.

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