'America was Rome, it has become Athens, and is now in danger of becoming Sparta," was the comment made to me a few years back by an outspoken Chinese ambassador in Europe.
In the ancient world, Rome was the dominant centre of economic, cultural, and military power taking over from an Athens known more for its cultural entertainments, sports and arts, which in turn had subdued a Sparta based solely on military prowess.
At his confirmation hearings, new US Secretary of State John Forbes Kerry argued that America "can't be strong in the world unless we are strong at home", and urged that America must first put its economic and fiscal house in order. "More than ever, foreign policy is economic policy," he said.
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