Bush-bashing commentary from the German publication’s Washington correspondent George Peter Schmitz:

The smoke was still rising from the rubble of the World Trade Center when Richard Armitage, at the time the US deputy secretary of state, spoke in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. “History begins today,” he said.

In the coming decade, Armitage would turn out to be right — except the politician could not have foreseen how tragic the history would be following the epochal event.

It is the history of the decline of the USA as a superpower.

Immediately before the attacks, this country was in full bloom — like Rome at its peak, as TV host Joe Scarborough recalls today.

The Republican President George W. Bush had inherited a fat budget surplus from the Democrat Bill Clinton. In Kosovo, the US, which Madeleine Albright dubbed “the indispensable nation,” had just shown the Europeans how it could resolve conflicts, even in their own backyard. Bill Gates and Microsoft were still cool.

And who gets to replace us? Europe? Not so fast, George Peter Schmitz.