Who Hijacked Our Country

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Is America Still Relevant?

That’s the question being being asked in this Newsweek column. The author, Fareed Zakaria, wonders what a post-America world will be like. He's referring to the annual Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. He says “For the first time in my memory, America was somewhat peripheral. There were few demands, pleas, complaints or tantrums directed at the United States. In this small but significant global cocoon, people—for the moment at least—seemed to be moving beyond America.”

People in Europe and the Middle East seem to think that their views about America’s foreign policy in general — and George W. Bush in particular — have been vindicated. Everyone else is united in their opposition to America’s Mad Cowboy; so it just seems redundant to keep beating the same dead horse by bashing Bush.

This year’s theme at Davos was “Shaping the Global Agenda: The Shifting Power Equation.” The consensus was that Asia is on the rise, and Europe and America are on the decline. Like it or not, the global dynamic seems to be shifting.

The author describes what a post-America world might be like. “It will be free of American domination, but perhaps also free of leadership—a world in which problems fester and the buck is endlessly passed, until problems explode.”

For one thing, international cooperation on global warming could go from Godawful to worse. A high-ranking Chinese official said “The ball is not in China’s court. The ball is in everybody’s court.” India’s planning czar said “every country should have the same per capita rights to pollution.” If the combined population of India and China (2.3 billion) starts polluting at Western levels, we’ll have global meltdown.

Cooperation on trade and tariffs may also start going from bad to worse, especially within the European Union. For that matter, China, India and Brazil talk about flexibility and cooperation, but without any concrete actions. As the author says, “The ball for every problem is in everybody's court, which means that it is in nobody’s court.”

According to Zakaria, the global system — economic, social, political — is not self-managing. It needs leaders to handle stresses and problems. He compares the coming post-America period to the 1920s. Then, as now, technology (electricity, radio, movies, cars) had transformed the world. Britain was declining and America was isolationist. The author describes the 1920s as “truly a world without direction” which begat protectionism, nationalism, xenophobia and ultimately World War II.

The author quotes a British historian who says “the end of American hegemony might not fuel an orderly shift to a multi-polar system but a descent into a world of highly fragmented powers, with no one exercising any global leadership.” He uses the term apolarity. This coming apolarity “could turn out to mean an anarchic new Dark Age, an era of waning empires and religious fanaticism, of economic plunder and pillage in the world’s forgotten regions, of economic stagnation, and civilization’s retreat into a few fortified enclaves.”

OK, so that sounds more like a bad science fiction movie than anything else. But as Zakaria says, “for those who have been fondly waiting for the waning of American dominance—be careful what you wish for.”

Food for thought.

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Blogger I.M. Dedd said...

Empires have a shelf life. Simple as that, no?

February 5, 2007 at 5:22 AM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

Food for thought indeed. Gone are the days when a third world country can play one of the superpowers for favors (or both like the masterful Tunisians did). Now everyone is on their own and must produce from their investments.

China just invested $800 in Gambia (or was it Zambia? So many countries in Africa). They will have to actually put that money to use instead of just lining their own po,.....

Hey, maybe this won't be so bad after all!

February 5, 2007 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

I.M. Dedd: A shelf life? For our Empire?? But what about God's will and Manifest Destiny :)

Prague Twin: Yeah, a lot of 3rd World leaders have been incredibly shrewd and manipulative in their dealings with the U.S. and other past superpowers. It'll be interesting to see how everything shakes out.

February 5, 2007 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Mike V. said...

funny you should mention that, read Paul Craig Robert's new column:


And we're hardly dealing with a "moonbat" here:

"Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct."

February 5, 2007 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger PoliShifter said...

This picture of the future is so dim that I gotta wear Night Vision Goggles.

I still hold out hope that as time grinds on, the younger generations are just going to outgrow this sort of global economic 20th century thinking.

I still hold out hope that the pace of technological advancement will continue to get faster.

I don't think technology can solve all of our problems. Our problems stem from human nature. But a nuclear fusion reactor producing clean limitless energy could do us wonders.

Technologies, specifically information are bringing us closer together. Most kids these days are much more racially tolerant that previous generations. Intermarriages are much more common and socially acceptable.

And most kids are fully wired; on facebook, webcams, youtube, chat rooms, cell phones, etc.

But as always, we will be in danger from those pyschotic charismatic people who convince others that it is their right to take another country's natural resources by force plunging their country into war.

I just don't see future generations playing this same game.

Ofcourse, those in charge of multinational corporations who manipulate the public and its government for their own profit only understand the exploitation of cheap labor and the raping of Natural Resources.

They are not likely to kick their habits any time soon. I would venture to say that the bulk of conflicts and tension in the world can be traced back to a multinational souless corp trying to buttfuck some poor, defenseless country.

February 5, 2007 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mike: Thanks for the link. Interesting perspective for somebody who was a high-ranking member of the Reagan Administration. Our country has swung way too far to the right when a former Reaganite can sound like a bleeding heart liberal in comparison.

PoliShifter: That's probably true that improved technology and increased global communication -- the "flattening of the Earth" or whatever you want to call it -- will ultimately help with the world's problems. Like you said, the largest multinational corporations are probably the most powerful forces right now. They have no allegiance to any government; they have no stake anywhere.

February 5, 2007 at 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I realize that all empires can come to an end and therefore the US can be no exception, but They seem to be more of a Military empires while the US seems to be a financial one as well.

And as long as there is money to buy things, there will be someone to sell it, and he who owns the most toys, is still on top.



February 5, 2007 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: This global shift is happening gradually. For now, our financial and military might still has us at "number one." We still have the most toys. But how long will this last? Nobody will ever conquer us, but China and Japan have a powerful financial hold on us. Our continual outsourcing and crumbling infrastructure will slowly but surely drag us down if some changes aren't made.

February 5, 2007 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

Very interesting post.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to live in a country that isn't perpetually in the middle of every geopolitical crisis. There are too many countries in the world who are all too happy coasting along while the stupid American taxpayers continue to pay for an overextended military decade after decade after decade.

February 5, 2007 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

J. Marquis: Yeah, I wouldn't mind a bit if America wasn't the center of the world and in the middle of every crisis. Some of the trillions we've spent on worldwide military operations could be spent here on highways, mass transit, job training, health care -- all the areas where the rest of the industrialized world leaves us biting the dust.

February 6, 2007 at 12:23 AM  
Blogger MichaelBains said...

It'll be interesting to see how everything shakes out.

We seem to be Cursed by an ancient Chinese. One whose descendants will help make it so.

Thoughtful post. As usual, eh.

February 6, 2007 at 3:54 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

I hope the British author isn't right... I tend to agree with Polishifter, that future generations may not be the way we are now in some regards.

As for the world moving on without America, that kind of suggests to me that they view America in its current state as a "lost cause", or as an anachronism, behind the times, out of touch...

It WOULD be great if we didn't spend so much money on the rest of the world. Just think of what America could be like... free health care and medicine for everyone... free education for everyone... and instead we pour billions and billions of dollars into the military and we now have an administration that wants to use that military to try and prolong the empire. Are times getting desperate for the empire builders and the empire sustainers? Looks like it.

What is Bush asking in his new budget for military spending, something like $659 billion? Yikes...

February 6, 2007 at 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Michael Bains: An ancient Chinese curse, maybe so. BTW, interesting post at your blog about the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I clicked to send the e-mail.

Snave: I too would be just fine with the U.S. being less involved in the world, for foreign aid and military adventures. You're right, think of what we could have (i.e. what every other industrialized country already has) if we spent that money here.

February 6, 2007 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Wasn't a major part of the downfall of the Soviet Union the amount of money that government spent on military as a percentage of its total budget? Didn't the USSR kind of militarily spend itself into oblivion? (I know that notion runs contrary to the popular rightwing urban legend that Ronald Reagan brought the USSR to its knees and tore down the Berlin Wall brick by brick, all by himself, with only a cowboy hat, jeans, a workshirt, boots and a pickaxe!)

Is this what the U.S. is now doing? Spending so much on the military that it is crippling itself? It makes me wonder.

February 6, 2007 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: Yup, we’re doing exactly what the Soviet Union was doing right up until they imploded in 1989. I couldn’t believe Reagan was considered such a hero then. It was obvious to me (and millions of others) that the U.S. and the Soviets were both hurtling toward the edge of a cliff, and fortunately the Russians fell off first.

The Russians were spending billions that they didn’t have on military adventures and letting their entire infrastructure and treasury collapse. That should've been an example of what not to do, but Bush seems determined to duplicate it. Monkey see monkey do.

February 6, 2007 at 5:46 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

That's odd. Bush won't do anything Clinton did, because it was Clinton did. But he will do something the Soviets did. Go figure!

February 6, 2007 at 9:45 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Snave: Yup, the Republicans have outdone themselves this time. They have such hatred of Clinton that they wouldn't breathe air if they knew that's what Clinton did; but they'll do exactly as that evil communist Gorbachev was doing. Go figure.

February 6, 2007 at 11:14 PM  

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