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be aging faster. Over the course of the century, Beckley notes, China will lose half of its workforce, or 470 million people.

Our alliance system is an enormous forcemultiplier, a network that, according to Beckley, “encompasses 25% of the Earth’s population and accounts for 75% of world GDP and defense spending.” China’s formal ally, in contrast, is North Korea.

None of this is to deny that the contemporary United States is racked by self-doubt, poisonous politics and institutional failure. It is only to say that if we are determined to squander our global position, it will take much more time and folly to do it. A further downward slide, like the disastrous withdrawal from Kabul itself, will be a choice, not an inevitability.

Rich Lowry is editor of the National Review.

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