U.S.-Algeria: Proof America's Not in Decline After All?


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The 90th minute of today's U.S.-Algeria match. Time to pop the corks and celebrate the proof of a very fashionable paradigm? We are living, after all, at "The End of the American Era," when we must confront "The Limits of American Power," to overcome "The Icarus Syndrome" and combat "American Hubris," to quote the titles of some recent influential books.

And what better confirmation that the "Time of the Americans" (to quote one book title that celebrated the era of apparent omnipotence after victory in World War II) had truly passed than a quick boot out of the World Cup at the hands of Algeria, of all places? And following draws with minuscule Slovenia and an England whose own imperial wings had melted long ago—helped along by some controversial referee calls that certainly showed no deference to the pretensions of American power, whether hard or soft.

But it was not to be. In extra time, Team USA broke through, after so many squandered chances, and scored to break the tie and fight onward into the tournament's knock-out round. And you know what? Cautionary paradigms be damned—there followed relief and pride and sheer simple joy. Maybe an American win is not so bad after all. Or does that only apply to the soccer field?

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Henry D. Fetter is the author of Taking on the Yankees: Winning and Losing in the Business of Baseball and has written widely about the business and politics of sports. More

Henry D. Fetter is the author of Taking on the Yankees: Winning and Losing in the Business of Baseball (WW Norton). He has written about the business and politics of sports, the American left, Jewish and Israeli history, and legal affairs for publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Times Literary Supplement, the Journal of Sport History, Israel Affairs, The Public Interest, American Communist History, The National Pastime, and the Encyclopedia of American Jewish History, and his work has appeared in several baseball history anthologies.

His article "Revising the Revisionists: Walter O' Malley, Robert Moses and the End of the Brooklyn Dodgers" was awarded the Kerr History Prize for the best article published in 2008 in the journal New York History; an earlier version of that article was presented at the Columbia University symposium "Robert Moses: New Perspectives on the Master Builder" (March 2007) and received a McFarland-SABR Baseball Research Award. He is the recipient of research grants from the Society for American Baseball Research and the Harry S. Truman Library Institute.

Fetter is a graduate of Harvard Law School and also holds degrees in history from Harvard College and the University of California, Berkeley. A native New Yorker, he attended his first major league baseball game at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field on Memorial Day 1955 and some years later followed the Dodgers to Los Angeles where he has practiced business and entertainment litigation for the past 30 years.
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