While some might look at Western Europe as a model for decaying gracefully, Steyn argues that's simply not possible for the U.S. since it is our military spending that subsidizes the modern European welfare state:
...the only reason Sweden can be Sweden and Germany Germany and France France is that America is America. Who will cushion America's decline as America cushioned Europe's?I'm sympathetic to this argument, as well as the one that there simply is no one in the world, not even China, that is able to play this role.
So I'm convinced decline is not the answer, but Steyn's alternative is that we double down on America as empire:
You can understand why the entire Left and an increasing chunk of the Right would rather vote for a quiet life. But that's not an option. The first victims of American retreat will be the many corners of the world that have benefited from an unusually benign hegemon. But the consequences of retreat will come home, too. In a more dangerous world, American decline will be steeper, faster, and more devastating than Britain's-and something far closer to Rome's.Well if embrace of a Euro-style welfare state is inimical to freedom, I'm willing to wager that a state of permanent global hegemony enabled by enormous military expenditures is no less so.
Is there really no other option? No third way between rolling over and watching a great nation recede, perhaps in dramatic fashion, and a perpetual state of nation destroying/building where we kick in the door of every madrassa and then turn around and drill every village a new well.