The distribution of power in the world has fundamentally altered over the two presidential terms of George W. Bush, both because of his policies and, more significant, despite them. Maybe the best way to understand how quickly history happens is to look just a bit ahead.
Improvements to America’s image may or may not occur, but either way, they mean little.
The more we appreciate the differences among the American, European and Chinese worldviews, the more we will see the planetary stakes of the new global game. Previous eras of balance of power have been among European powers sharing a common culture. The cold war, too, was not truly an “East-West” struggle; it remained essentially a contest over Europe. What we have today, for the first time in history, is a global, multicivilizational, multipolar battle.
Globalization is the weapon of choice. The main battlefield is what I call “the second world.”
In the coming decades, far from restoring its Soviet-era might, Russia will have to decide whether it wishes to exist peacefully as an asset to Europe or the alternative — becoming a petro-vassal of China.
Chávez’s challenge to the United States is, in inspiration, ideological, whereas the second-world shift is really structural.
Globalization is not synonymous with Americanization; in fact, nothing has brought about the erosion of American primacy faster than globalization.
Maintaining America’s empire can only get costlier in both blood and treasure. It isn’t worth it, and history promises the effort will fail. It already has.
We have learned the hard way that what others want for themselves trumps what we want for them — always. Neither America nor the world needs more competing ideologies, and moralizing exhortations are only useful if they point toward goals that are actually attainable. This new attitude must be more than an act: to obey this modest, hands-off principle is what would actually make America the exceptional empire it purports to be. It would also be something every other empire in history has failed to do.
Trade within the India-Japan-Australia triangle — of which China sits at the center — has surpassed trade across the Pacific.
For all its muscle flexing, Russia is also disappearing. Its population decline is a staggering half million citizens per year or more, meaning it will be not much larger than Turkey by 2025 or so — spread across a land so vast that it no longer even makes sense as a country.
There are currently more musicians in U.S. military marching bands than there are Foreign Service officers.