Friday, November 02, 2007

Hegemony, when it goes... "be a long time gone"

David Seaton's News Links
The definitive importance of what has been lost in Iraq is only just beginning to sink in. We are experiencing, at this very moment, the end of an era that began in 1945.

Western leaders feeling 'orphaned' gather and rally to Washington looking for leadership that no longer exists.

This vacuum will not be solved when a new president is elected, the vacuum is structural not personal. Bush is only a symptom, not a true cause, a symbol not the reality, the bad smell, not the mess itself.

Living so many years in Spain and studying its history has made me especially aware of the mechanisms of 'decline and fall'. Fewer people are better equipped by their history than the Spanish to understand how a brave, talented, energetic people can be led to ruin by a decadent, ruling elite. Spain also offers the example of how, even at great cost and at great pain, it is possible for a great country to finally leave aside prideful narcissism and learn the lessons that history happily teaches to those who attend her. DS

Philip Stephens: America is still indispensable but it must work with others - Financial Times
Abstract: Early next week George W. Bush will be greeting Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, at the White House. A day or so later France’s Nicolas Sarkozy will pitch up in Washington. By the weekend, Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, will be sharing a hamburger with the US president at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Lame-duck president he may be but Mr Bush does not lack for foreign visitors.(...) If American power is still indispensable, it is no longer sufficient. America’s choices condition, often decisively, the decisions of others. But their assent cannot be taken for granted.(...) During Mr Bush’s unilateralist first term, one US official told me a little while ago, the assumption had been that “first we decide and then we tell the rest of the world”. During the second term there had been a genuine attempt to “listen before we decide”. Crucially, though, the bit that had not changed was “we decide”.(...) The common thread that runs through both sets of campaigns, though, is an assumption that the US can somehow turn back the clock to the world before Iraq. Thus Mrs Clinton tells readers of Foreign Affairs that though American leadership has been “wanting”, it is still “wanted” by the rest of the world. Mr Obama has written in the same journal that: “The American moment is not over but it must be seized anew.” To the extent that the US will remain the pre-eminent power for some decades yet, they are right. But two things are missing: recognition that the rise of other powers – notably China and India – is already diminishing America’s relative strength, and anything more than the vaguest of senses of how the US might shape this landscape. There lies the purpose for American leadership: to begin to design, as it did for the west after the second world war, an international system that puts great power co-operation rather than competition at its core. Many will say that is too much to ask of today’s candidates for the White House. They may be right. But in that case we should prepare for the new global disorder. READ IT ALL

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