Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The world after Bush (and, hopefully, his parrott)

Writing in Prospect, Michael Lind (senior fellow at the New America Foundation and author of "The American Way of Strategy: US Foreign Policy and the American Way of Life," published by Oxford University Press), paints a grim picture of the post Bush world. Much of what he has to say about global settings and the foreign policy response of the Bush administration are applicable to the Howard years, notwithstanding the much narrower sphere of impact.

Following is an excerpt:

"...Much of America's weakness will be the result of self-inflicted wounds: the unnecessary invasion of Iraq, along with the Bush administration's gratuitous insults to allies, its arrogant unilateralism and its hostility to international law. But as tempting as it may be to put all of the blame on the Bush administration, the truth is that most of the trends that will limit American power and influence in the next decade are long-term phenomena produced by economic, demographic and ideological developments beyond the power of the US or any government to influence. The rise of China, the shift in the centre of the world economy to Asia, the growth of neo- mercantilist petro-politics, the spread of Islamism in both militant and moderate forms—these trends are reshaping the world order in ways that neither the US nor any of its allies can do much to control....

Whatever happens, it is clear that the long 1990s are finally over, their utopian hopes beyond realisation. The neoconservative vision of one big global market policed by the hegemonic US in a unipolar world now looks quaint. So does the related neoliberal vision of an alliance of north Atlantic democracies repudiating post-1945 notions of state sovereignty in order to dispatch soldiers and democratic missionaries to end ethnic conflicts, enforce human rights and bring democracy and liberty to the middle east and Africa. The multipolar and mercantilist world coalescing around us looks very different from the unipolar free-market order described by Clinton, Blair and Bush, even though it would have seemed familiar to Richard Nixon and Charles de Gaulle.

The neoconservative fantasy of unilateral global hegemony has been discredited, and the neoliberal dream of a UN-led international order is an illusion as well. A concert of great powers, organised and led by the US, offers the best hope for reconciling international peace with liberal order, in a world in which the perfect remains the enemy of the good."

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