28 Jan. 2008

Crash Test Dummies

Perhaps it's a sign of just how truly bad things are around the world that Australia - along with NZ and Brasil - is now being seen as a good place to park your money.

Meanwhile, the US neocon dream is over:
At best, America’s unipolar moment lasted through the 1990s, but that was also a decade adrift. The post-cold-war “peace dividend” was never converted into a global liberal order under American leadership. So now, rather than bestriding the globe, we are competing — and losing — in a geopolitical marketplace alongside the world’s other superpowers: the European Union and China. This is geopolitics in the 21st century: the new Big Three. Not Russia, an increasingly depopulated expanse run by Gazprom.gov; not an incoherent Islam embroiled in internal wars; and not India, lagging decades behind China in both development and strategic appetite. The Big Three make the rules — their own rules — without any one of them dominating. And the others are left to choose their suitors in this post-American world.

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.
Errgh, there's that military analogy shit again. Can't we frame things in any more civilized terms?
While America fumbles at nation-building, Europe spends its money and political capital on locking peripheral countries into its orbit. Many poor regions of the world have realized that they want the European dream, not the American dream. Africa wants a real African Union like the E.U.; we offer no equivalent. Activists in the Middle East want parliamentary democracy like Europe’s, not American-style presidential strongman rule. Many of the foreign students we shunned after 9/11 are now in London and Berlin: twice as many Chinese study in Europe as in the U.S. We didn’t educate them, so we have no claims on their brains or loyalties as we have in decades past. More broadly, America controls legacy institutions few seem to want — like the International Monetary Fund — while Europe excels at building new and sophisticated ones modeled on itself. The U.S. has a hard time getting its way even when it dominates summit meetings — consider the ill-fated Free Trade Area of the Americas — let alone when it’s not even invited, as with the new East Asian Community, the region’s answer to America’s Apec.
What's that? Funny, I haven't read much about this new "East Asian Community" in Teh Australian... (Yes, Australia is included). Here's something else the Murdoch prss doesn't much highlight:
Every country in the world currently considered a rogue state by the U.S. now enjoys a diplomatic, economic or strategic lifeline from China, Iran being the most prominent example.
The author of this NYT article, Parag Khanna, is a senior research fellow in the American Strategy Program of the New America Foundation. This essay is adapted from his new book, “The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order". There's another 7 pages of it online - well worth a read.

Come to think of it, I don't think anyone in the US media has published anything as interesting for quite some time. If this means there's less column space for foolish ideologues like Bill Kristol, bravo. Hat tip to Atrios for the link.

Change is fun, isn't it?