America’s Future as a Global Power

Dec 8 2017
Written by NYU Shanghai

On December 3, renowned writer and journalist James Fallows brought observations on the current status of US politics and China-US relations to a panel organized by The Economist Global Business Review and the NYU Shanghai Center for Business Education and Research (CBER).

The discussion about “America’s Future as a Global Power,” was moderated by Wu Chen, Managing Director of The Economist Global Business Review, and joined by Jeffrey Lehman, Vice Chancellor of NYU Shanghai.

A senior national correspondent of The Atlantic Monthly, Fallows commented on the latest turmoil in Washington, driven by US President Donald Trump’s tax cut bill and the investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Being an optimist, Fallows said: “The main message of American history is essentially that the country has always been in trouble, whether economic crises or political tensions. The question is how we come back.”

In response, Lehman wondered whether certain features of the current situation might undermine some of America’s traditional sources of resilience. “The US has had many leaders of both parties who used the values of 'the American creed’ to unify the country in response to whatever challenges it was facing. The current assault on those values makes me worry whether the next president will be able to use them to the same effect,” he said.

With respect specifically to China-US relations, Fallows noted that, at least so far, there have not been “head-to-head collisions in bilateral relations.” “On both the Chinese and US sides, there is ongoing complexity, balance, contradiction. They both need each other and have that competitive, contradictory interest,” he said.



Fielding questions from the audience about his experience as both an award-winning author of 10 books and as President Jimmy Carter’s chief speechwriter, Fallows surprised the crowd by saying that speech writing is relatively easy compared with other types of writing, as it is designed to be heard.

“Being the president’s speech writer, you have to eliminate yourself and think, while writing, about what the president could say if he/she has the time.” He warned against resorting to sensations and titillations, while recommending instead using emotions for worthier goals in journalism.

Fallows and his wife previously visited NYU Shanghai in 2015, sharing experiences from their American Futures project, which was dedicated to discovering the smaller cities of the US and how they thrive and reinvent themselves on the local, social, and economic scale.

Prof. Chen Yuxin, Dean of Business and director of CBER, said the discussion was highly valuable to not only to students and faculty, who are interested in political science, but also to those in the fields of business and economics. “In today’s interconnected world, US politics have impacts far beyond US border and beyond politics,” he said.

See the American Futures project video series on The Atlantic here.



The Economist Global Business Review:

Edited in London since 1843, The Economist is a weekly international news and business publication, offering clear reporting, commentary and analysis on world current affairs, business, finance, science and technology, culture, society, media and the arts. As noted on its contents page, The Economist's goal is to "take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress."

The Economist Global Business Review, launched in May 2015, is a Chinese-English bilingual digital product with stories originated from the Economist. Each month, the best business, finance and technology articles from the weekly publication are selected and translated, and delivered to readers.