After a struggle lasting some fifty years, a struggle waged whether by force of arms or by more peaceful means in almost every corner of the globe, the United States in the final decade of the twentieth century is witnessing the acknowledged triumph of the principles for which it has historically stood. In nation after nation dictatorship is in the process of being replaced by democracy, repression by freedom, and the stultification of planned economies by the dynamism of markets. With the collapse of communism in Eastern and Central Europe, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the abandonment of central planning even in China, America has become in many respects the model against which every nation must measure itself.
At the same time, however, the United States finds itself facing a host of formidable problems at home. Its economic power, which is the foundation of its military and political significance, has suffered a long- term decline relative to that of other nations, as shown especially in the weakness of its manufacturing industry, which has been saved in large part only by devaluing its dollar to less than half what it was thirty years ago. After four years the country is still struggling to emerge from a brutal recession which sent unprecedented numbers of businesses into bankruptcy, and rapidly increased unemployment. Its savings and loan system has been threatened with collapse, leading to an extremely expensive rescue by the federal government. Its system of public education, which consumes vast amounts of tax funds, is pervasively disappointing in its