Rolf Englund IntCom internetional
"The entire politico-economic model of free enterprise, rugged individualism and small government on which America built its global hegemony seems to have broken down"
The crisis triggered by September's bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers appears to have discredited many of the assumptions on which American prosperity and democracy was founded.
To have any hope of repairing the ruin left behind by the Bush Administration, President Obama must first convince the 45 per cent of the population who voted against him that America really is broke.
Not only is the US trapped, as Mr Obama noted, in a geopolitical quagmire and the worst recession in living memory.
But behind both of these dreadful things lurks a horror even more existentially shocking:
How else can one describe a situation in which all of the country's main financial institutions and many of its biggest industrial companies are effectively bankrupt and on government life-support?
Communism was a monolithic and inflexible system that worked against the grain of human nature and had to be brutally imposed. Capitalism, by contrast, is a constantly evolving and organic set of human relationships. It advances by trial and error and takes a myriad different forms. Thus the demise of the post-1989 fundamentalist faith in market forces as the solution to all social problems now offers Mr Obama the chance to preside over a new evolution of American capitalism into a more stable and ultimately more successful form. Creating this new kind of capitalism will be the most important challenge of the Obama presidency and beyond.