In a recent op-ed for Politico, co-authors Michael O’Hanlon and David H. Petraeus tackle the question that has plagued America for the past decade or so: “Are America’s best days behind us?” The two present the argument that America is, in fact, not in decline—it’s on the cusp of some great opportunities for remaining a world leader for decades to come. Or, as the article’s subtitle states: “The United States is not in decline. It’s on the cusp of a great revival.”
David Petraeus is a retired 4-star general, current KKR Global Institute chairman, and ex-CIA chief—among other prestigious roles. Co-author Michael O’Hanlon is a senior fellow at Brookings, as well as co-author of Strategic Reassurance and Resolve: U.S.-China Relations in the 21st Century.
The O’Hanlon and Petraeus article brings up several key reasons the U.S. is doing better than many Americans might thing—one of which is the energy boom. Unexpected by many, the United States is now the world leader in natural gas, which produces energy very cheaply.
One thing the article doesn’t touch on, however, is the U.S.’s clean energy market. The United States is in second place globally for investments made into clean energy, with over $300 billion spent in the past decade. A large portion of the investments made was into wind power, which has now achieved price parity with conventional fossil fuel methods of electricity generation. Since 2008, the cost of wind power has gone down by 43 percent and the cost of solar has gone down 80 percent.
Another area where the U.S. could easily continue to lead the world is in manufacturing—we are currently number two behind China, but with the energy boom and significant investments into green energy, that could bring lots of jobs home as well as help advance the clean energy movement.
If we can remove policy uncertainty surrounding clean energy, that sector will undoubtedly continue to grow at a rapid pace for many years to come, keeping the U.S. as a leader in energy innovation. Not only would that be good for the earth, but it would also be good for the U.S.’s ability to remain a world leader.