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Sunday, 20 September 2009

Superpowers Do Not Die

They commit suicide.

Though it’s a perennial favorite among left-wing enclaves, any (serious) talk of the demise of the US as the world’s sole superpower is so out of whack with reality that it’s normally not worth engaging your brain. When you’ve heard how the story goes once, you’ve heard it a thousand times.

Particularly when it’s Deepak Chopra (apologies, linked to a slightly aged piece in the Huff Po), who does nothing more than slightly re-heat all the tepid and vapid arguments of yesteryear about why a multi-polar world would be so, so nice.

Except, genius, that we’ve already had a multi-polar world on many previous occasions. And it resulted in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, World War I and World II (and, less directly, the Cold War), to name the biggies of the last two centuries alone.

Is even recent history that forgettable, now?

Significant state power, once gained, dissipates very slowly: few countries have lost their status as a superpower. Spain, Portugal and Holland are examples of this in the modern age, but, despite their deep problems, the United Kingdom, France and Russia still cling to their superpower standing, at least for now.

There has, however, never before been a power like the United States.

The (former) empires of France, Britain, Persia, Russia, China and Rome do not even come close to the military might of the US. Short of the entire world teaming up against America, none could take her down - and even then, my money would be on the US. It’d be like Hulk Hogan fighting a room full of toddlers: unpleasant, to be sure, but more irritating than anything else (for the Hulkster, anyway).

Not that the US’ authority comprises only military means. Combined with the twin allures of its (usually) dynamic economy and open society, the US towers over the rest of the world.

The real stake in the heart of this soft-intellectualism, however, is the most basic point: who would take over?

For as much as the Left loves to imagine it, there would be no orderly division of labor between America and the wannabees. There never has been and there never will be, until (God forbid) we have some kind of global governance rule.

That aside, intense (and violent) competition will emerge among those nation-states covetous of American influence. Historically, the world is at its most dangerous when states seek to change the prevailing order.

Which is precisely what is happening today. The ascension of a young and inexperienced president has afforded nefarious regimes the world over another opportunity to see how far they can push America back and expand their own influence. China is challenging the US Navy in the South China Sea. Latent Russian hostility is on the rise, as they achieve feats such as ousting the US from its only Central Asian air base in Kyrgyzstan. Iran is as belligerent as usual and closer than ever to obtaining nuclear weapons. North Korea, behaving true to form despite Kim Jong-il’s incapacity, is conducting nuclear tests without a care in the world. Serial basket-case Pakistan is nowhere nearer becoming the theoretical stable democracy that some analysts think not only possible, but also a panacea for their many problems. Finally, the mini-me Castros of Latin America are still nipping at America’s heels, but let’s leave them to their own plots and schemes while we focus on the big boys.

Within the last week alone – not that you’d know it from a domestic media that has focused exclusively on the riveting spectacle of Democrats blanketly defaming tens of millions of conservatives as racists – Russia has concluded pacts with the Georgian regions of Abkhazian and South Ossetia, allowing it to maintain military bases in both places for nearly a half-century to come. Everyone, please welcome back the Russian Empire. That, of course, is in addition to Russian warnings that it will seize (Georgian) ships in the Black Sea. Iran, meanwhile, is delirious with self-satisfaction now that its pure intransigence has led to its being dropped from the agenda for a September 24th meeting of the UNSC chaired by President Obama, a moratorium on further UNSC sanctions and the grand prize, bi-lateral negotiations with the United States. The DPRK, ever desperate to ensure that the world takes note of its pitiful existence, has been similarly rewarded with one-on-one talks, after it decided to renounce the 1953 armistice with South Korea.

More so even than acts of great strength, acts of weakness on this scale are never forgotten.

It is so dangerously naive to believe that we can all just get along, as Chopra and so many other left-wing flyweights unquestioningly do (with not the least among them being President Obama), that it defies comprehension.

Can they truly believe that China or Russia would be content with sharing global predominance with the US and do not harbor ambitions of usurping the US entirely? That they wouldn’t subsequently transpose their oppression from the domestic to the international level?

And do they really want to see that happen?

I’m not sure that I want to know the answer.