Those who dream of a permanent American imperium dismiss any difficulties or challenges. The U.S. remains strong, other nations aren’t likely to overtake America.
Most important, with work, Washington can maintain its military edge. So what if Americans have to sacrifice to sustain the force structure necessary to impose Washington’s will on other states? It is Uncle Sam’s destiny to rule the globe. People should cheerfully pay.
Yet for most Americans the more relevant destiny is living longer and facing the challenge of paying for ever more expensive health care. Federal deficits are back on the rise. There isn’t going to be much money for the national government to spend on “discretionary” items, including underwriting wealthy allies, rebuilding failed states, and enforcing international norms.

So far ignored in a presidential race most notable for the improbable candidacy of Donald Trump, America’s fiscal position is deteriorating sharply. Earlier this year the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) forecast that the federal deficit was back on the rise in 2016, with steady increases likely over the next decade.