Absent US intervention, Darfur continues to be the scene of mass slaughter. Sri Lanka’s war with the LTTE has flared up again despite decades of Euro soft power intervention. As America’s resolve has slackened, Russian pressure on former Soviet Republics that we were helping like the Ukraine, Georgia, and Kazakhstan is increasing. Probably the most deleterious effect on future global stability is the loss of the Pax Americana that underpinned the low defense budgets and free trade that we saw in most of the world. The cause of the relative peace we’ve seen for the last 15 years was the reality that any country that attacked another would simply be destroyed by the US military. No matter how much money any country spent (Japan and Germany aside) they could never hope to match even a single American carrier and division. With zero chance of victory there was no reason to try. In a world without an active America that calculation changes drastically. There are still national hatreds and disputed territories to fight over around the world. Places like Arica, Kashmir, the Crimea, Taiwan, Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, and the Fergana Valley are potential scenes of centuries old grudge matches. This can also be seen by the growing defense budgets and the purchases of advanced military weapons by countries around the world. Just because Alsace-Lorraine, Silesia, the Skane, and Tirol are not at the moment disputed and Euro defense budgets are presently inadequate doesn’t mean conflict is a thing of the past. Zakaria ends his article by quoting Niall Ferguson about what may be in store for the “World without America”,
“In a provocative essay in Foreign Policy three years ago, the British historian Niall Ferguson speculated that the end of American hegemony might not fuel an orderly shift to a multipolar system but a descent into a world of highly fragmented powers, with no one exercising any global leadership. He called this "apolarity." "Apolarity could turn out to mean an anarchic new Dark Age," Ferguson wrote, "an era of waning empires and religious fanaticism, of economic plunder and pillage in the world's forgotten regions, of economic stagnation, and civilization's retreat into a few fortified enclaves."”
Something for Americans should remember, even if we aren’t exposed to the sort of depravations that Europe, Africa, and much of Asia will be, we’ll still be part of that world and it will far worse for us than anything Iraq can be imagined as. This is something that I've written about since the earliest days of this blog (all of 8 months ago). The earliest being my 8th post back in May 2006 about that contrary to what the left says we will have to fight and win this struggle and contrary to what some on the right say this isn’t the last great conflict, we’ll have to do it again and again. This post from June covers my general agreement with the top British strategist who warned the West is looking mightily like the Roman Empire at its end these days. Also from June are two posts, one dealing with how the insistence on treating every “nation” equally is creating many of the world’s problems that are then being fanned by the fatigue we are now showing in spades, and the other dealing with the problem of relying on Europe for our alliances in the future as the Democrats desire. There are other ones that deal tangentially with this topic but that should show that isn't something recent or surprising.
I should add that one of my quibbles with the article is that he states the power of the US and Europe in the world is declining. In my view there are two types of power, theoretical and real. Theoretical power is the total potential power of a nation realized or not while real power is that power which a nation is willing to use. Europe’s power, however you define it, is on the decline so I don’t dispute that point. As for us it is true that our real power is on the decline as we seem intent on no longer exercising the full breadth of our capabilities. However, our theoretical power is essentially unchanged. Our economy grows at roughly the world average so there isn’t much change there. Our population is growing at near the world average and will actually likely be above the world rate soon. Our military holds as big if not a bigger share of global military power than ever before, as we are the only nation with a fully combat experienced force, our weapons and tactics are proven in combat, and we dominate global R&D spending (both military and civilian). This is what is so disheartening about the current mood in America, we have the power of Britain in 1870 at the height of the Pax Britannica, yet we are behaving and electing politicians like the Britain of 1970 at the ebb of her power (when even France and Italy! were richer than England, may that never be said about us).