Any American who travels sees it. From Davos 07, Joseph Nye wrote, "American soft power is at a low ebb." Remember, Davos -- an historic destination for the rich and ailing -- represents the coming together and expression of collective wisdom of big international corporations. This year's theme - debate - is the slow, inevitable decline of the US.
No one doubts this. The global view of the United States' role in world affairs has significantly deteriorated over the last year, according to a BBC poll released two days ago of more than 26,000 people across 25 different countries.
The survey reveals that three in four (73%) respondents disapprove of how the US government has dealt with Iraq.
· One citizen in two (49%) across all 25 countries polled now says the US is playing a mainly negative role in the world.
· Over two-thirds (68%) believe the US military presence in the Middle East provokes more conflict than it prevents and only 17% believe US troops there are a stabilizing force.
· A majority (57%) of the British public continues to see US influence as mainly negative and 81% disapprove of US actions in the war in Iraq.
· The US military presence in the Middle East is exceedingly unpopular. In 23 of 25 countries the most common view is that it "provokes more conflict than it prevents." More than 7 in 10 Britons share this opinion. Only 14% of Britons believe that the US is a "stabilizing force" in the region.
· Only one country polled (Nigeria) held the view that the US presence is stabilizing.
Why is it important what the world thinks of us?
For a long time, the US economy - and our overall prosperity and well-being - has relied on the "kindness" and good will of strangers.
The US has borrowed more than $3 trillion in the last six years. Last year's trade deficit was over $800 billion.
World confidence in the US economy and currency has supported a favorable global business climate and powered US political and economic clout. But with a humongous and rapidly accruing trade and budget deficit, foreigners are increasingly losing confidence in the US economy - and policy-making. It could all come apart very quickly.
They will want their money back and the dollar will fall, which will trigger a run on the US Bank.
Secondly, like it or not, our American Empire - and the US powerhouse economy - has relied on Globalization to enrich our domestic coffers. Globalization, in turn, has relied on the confidence of the world to fuel the domestic and international investments of the US.
But Globalization has reached its high water mark and may be receding, according to Walden Bello. Free trade treaties are getting harder and harder to pass, with more local resistance to US influence. Moreover, Bush has hypocritically pushed free trade for the rest of the world, and protectionism for the US.
Last fall, a survey released by the World Economic Forum found that the US has fallen from 1st to 6th in economic competitiveness ranking.
Looks like the chickens are coming home to roost as the doomsayers have been predicting for years.
The consequences to our American Empire will be disastrous and swift, if the trust of global investors and dealmakers is shaken. Will America succumb to the same imperial overstretch as the Roman, Dutch, Spanish, Soviet, and British Empires?