The Post-American World
June 30, 2011 9:07 PM   Subscribe

What does a post-American world look like? NPR interviews Fareed Zakaria on America's future role in world events.
posted by bitmage (65 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's a bit premature. However:

So that stupid loopholes, that are really institutionalized corruption, that have been made in the tax code to favor certain industries or favor certain interest groups in return for campaign contributions - we can't even close those because he says that's technically raising taxes on someone and Republicans have signed a pledge that they will raise taxes on no one. So youve lost the one kind of easy mechanism that the Simpson-Bowles commission found to raise revenues without raising general rates. And as I say, it leaves you with the feeling that the system has now become, essentially, paralyzed.

Basically, the choice Americans are faced with is to get over Republicanism, or say goodbye to being a first world country.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:20 PM on June 30, 2011 [13 favorites]


Zakaria was also interviewed by NPR's Planet Money team.
posted by gen at 9:27 PM on June 30, 2011


It's either anarchy or a Chinese-run dictatorship.

I have no idea if I'm joking, but I'm not sure what we'd do without America's world policeman role.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:29 PM on June 30, 2011


I'm not sure what we'd do without America's world policeman role.

HA HA HA HA HA. Ohhhhh ha ha. Some of you Americans, lol, you just think the world can't live without you. It did, it can and it will. Lots of people would probably prefer it. Western Europe seems a bit more reticent about torturing people, at least.
posted by smoke at 9:32 PM on June 30, 2011 [22 favorites]


I'm only half way through this interview, but I have to say to anyone questioning reading it Fareed gives great interview. It's clear and insightful and not a bleak forecast of the Fall Of Empire.
posted by artof.mulata at 9:34 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]



HA HA HA HA HA. Ohhhhh ha ha. Some of you Americans, lol, you just think the world can't live without you. It did, it can and it will. Lots of people would probably prefer it. Western Europe seems a bit more reticent about torturing people, at least.


They can do that because they're under America's protection.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:36 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Some of you Americans, lol, you just think the world can't live without you.

Smoke, can you please get a room already and hash out your authentic-Aussie versus transplanted-Aussie drama elsewhere? Thanks. Your projection is a derail, here.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:37 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's interesting because reading about other countries that have dropped out of first without being conquered, they do a lot of soul-searching and figuring out their place in the world. We just seem to be blundering onward and getting louder and more desperate and frantically hoping if we just make enough noise and chant "U-S-A! U-S-A!" loud enough, we'll stay in the top spot. We really could use some self-reflection as a society.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:38 PM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


FZ has some interesting thoughts, but he was (is?) an atrocious writer. I remember buying "The Post American World" with much eager anticipation, and being bitterly disappointed by the time I was on page 50 or so. I did not finish the book. This was a couple of years ago, so the details escape me, but the impression I carry is that a lot of his ideas weren't fleshed out at all, and the overall content was in the Thomas Meet-my-taxi-driver Friedman territory.

But this interview is interesting. Thanks for posting this.
posted by vidur at 9:39 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]



HA HA HA HA HA. Ohhhhh ha ha. Some of you Americans, lol, you just think the world can't live without you. It did, it can and it will. Lots of people would probably prefer it. Western Europe seems a bit more reticent about torturing people, at least.


Yippie ki yay, motherfucker.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:39 PM on June 30, 2011


We really could use some self-reflection as a society.

I concur, but this holds for every society at all times everywhere. But I concur.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:39 PM on June 30, 2011


What, exactly, does that mean?
posted by The Whelk at 9:40 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just wanna say, I'm a pretty liberal guy and all, and I sure have listened to some NPR in my day. But headlines like this do have a lot to do with why right-wing assholes think NPR is a den of communists and shit. You might as well run an article called "Santa: Huge Fucking Fraud" on Christmas Eve.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:42 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, smoke. That was much harsher than I intended.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:44 PM on June 30, 2011


Also, I've pretty much moved to Vancouver, BC. They didn't even mention that.
posted by LordSludge at 9:54 PM on June 30, 2011


Hey no worries, Joe. I really wasn't trying to bring Australia vs. US into the debate at all. The reality is, however, that lots of different people in lots of countries have been thinking about a world, post-pax americana, for years - if not decades - and many of them are looking forward to it. That applies to powers "hostile" to the US, and those that benefit from it (as Australia has for much of its history).

I think part of this reason - as Zakaria points out - is that no one outside of North Korea and a few fringe states is truly actually hostile to the US, in a meaningful sense. Globalisation is sometimes over-hyped, but one real-world consequence of the last thirty years' development is that the world is not only more multi-polar now, but also multi-dependent.

Zakaria talks about the unconscionable risks of US govt defaulting on debt, and how almost every other nation on Earth would hate to see that happen - would go out of its way to make sure that doesn't happen. That's the kind of multi-polar world we're looking at now - and though free trade hasn't been as free as its proponents pretend (I'm certainly not starry-eyed about it), the freer movement of goods and capital has demonstrably helped share both risks and rewards for the world, and I think mostly for the better - and definitely mostly for the better in regards to trying to pull together a cogent response to global warming. As difficult as it currently seems, it would have been unimaginable in the fifties and sixties, I think.

So in that respect, a multi-lateral world I think is going to be an ultimate good. It may make unilateral action more difficult, but there are billions of people out there who have long been deprived of a voice on the global stage, and the 21st century is going to start giving them one to equal America's.
posted by smoke at 9:55 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was struck by the bit about the world waiting nervously for the US to come to its senses about raising the debt ceiling. There used to be a phrase; "Backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government." I think Gitmo dispelled the worlds faith in the US, and now we're doing the same to our credit.
posted by bitmage at 9:55 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, the interview isn't about the collapse of America, it's instead about the rise of everyone else. This is a good thing.

NPR:In your book, you say we're living through the great power shift of the modern era, and you say this book isn't about the decline of America but rather about the rise of everyone else, the rise of the rest.

FZ: If you look at that world today, the number of countries growing at three percent a year is about 90. Before the financial crash, it was 124. The sea change that has taken place has been the collapse of communism, the collapse of the Soviet empire, and the joining of countries from all over the world, from Latin America, from Asia, into this one global market system.

And the result is that you have countries all over the world thriving, taking advantage of the political civility that they have achieved, the economic connection into this global market, the technological connection into this market, and we are all witnessing this phenomenon.

And it's not - the mistake people sometimes make is to think of it as just China or just China and India. It's happening in Latin America. It's happening there's about 30 countries in Africa that are growing at three percent a year.

And so what I tried to capture in the book is this new world being shaped for the first time by everyone,

posted by KokuRyu at 9:57 PM on June 30, 2011


I just wanna say, I'm a pretty liberal guy and all, and I sure have listened to some NPR in my day. But headlines like this do have a lot to do with why right-wing assholes think NPR is a den of communists and shit. You might as well run an article called "Santa: Huge Fucking Fraud" on Christmas Eve.

But that's part of the problem and what I was talking about. We can't even talk about real, genuine problems we have because admitting we may have a problem is implying we're not the best in the world anymore and, well, mustn't do that! I think as Americans we need to figure out what kind of country we're going to be (and if we truly want to be #1, it's damn sure not going to come from slashing spending on everything and cutting taxes), but we can't do that because admitting anything is amiss is communist crazy talk.

The elephant in the room is that the country really is falling apart. Our infrastructure is degrading rapidly, the university system we so prize is getting defunded as we cut back, the interstate highway system that enables our prized suburban lifestyle is slowly falling into disrepair, rail travel is a mess, etc., but we can't even begin having that sorely needed conversation because it may possibly imply that America is not #1 at everything anymore.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:04 PM on June 30, 2011 [32 favorites]


Maybe I'm just cynical, but this strikes me as whistling past the graveyard.

The issue isn't whether the US will cease being Team America Fuck Yeah, but how. I think a lot of the opprobrium directed at President Obama by the right wing is because they sense, correctly, that he is the first US president whose mission is not to grow our power and influence, but to manage its decline. That the decline is due to the hubris, venality, and stupidity of W and his team of jackals as well as economic and historical forces beyond our control is glossed over in their rush to point fingers at the Black Guy With The Funny Name.

Obama's willingness to cut deals with crooked multinationals is, IMO, just him trying to manage the rate of descent.

I was blessed to live at the height of US prosperity, I fear. It's all downhill from here.

So my advice is to do what I did: marry a Canadian!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:05 PM on June 30, 2011 [13 favorites]


But that's part of the problem and what I was talking about. We can't even talk about real, genuine problems we have because admitting we may have a problem is implying we're not the best in the world anymore and, well, mustn't do that!

I'm just speaking of the very practical consideration of how an organization that routinely asks for government money and is routinely tarred as being anti-American should possibly not run stories like this on Independence Day weekend. It just looks bad. As to whether we have problems? I think most of us are comfortable acknowledging we do. As to whether we're "best in the world," which could mean just about anything, really, there sure seem to be a lot of people eager to hear that we're not the best in the world. That seems to imply something.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:12 PM on June 30, 2011


It may make unilateral action more difficult, but there are billions of people out there who have long been deprived of a voice on the global stage, and the 21st century is going to start giving them one to equal America's.

Yeah, ok, keep dreaming.
posted by phaedon at 10:22 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


So my advice is to do what I did: marry a Canadian!

Now you tell me!

P.S. I love my American wife.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:29 PM on June 30, 2011


Metafilter: P.S. I love my American wife.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:32 PM on June 30, 2011


Well, I married her because she's punk as fuck and twenty different kinds of awesome. That she comes from a country with 90% of the world's remaining fresh water was a happy bonus. Now, whether they'll let me across the border or not is a different question....
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:38 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was blessed to live at the height of US prosperity, I fear. It's all downhill from here.

When was the height of US prosperity? In the 50s, when Jim Crow was still around? Or the 60s, with the Vietnam War raging? Or perhaps the 70s, with stagflation? Or was it the 80s with Reagan? I guess that leaves the 90s, which did have Super Nintendo.

Maybe it's because I'm not seasoned, but when the old guard says things are gonna suck, I'm just gonna translate that as things are going to be different, and they don't like it so they think it's bad. But at least when the old guard makes movies about the future, we get gems like Road Warrior and Blade Runner.
posted by FJT at 10:38 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


So my advice is to do what I did: marry a Canadian!

*ahem*
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:40 PM on June 30, 2011


I guess that leaves the 90s, which did have Super Nintendo

I think you just answered your own question.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:42 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Western Europe seems a bit more reticent about torturing people, at least.

Except for that whole gassing 3 million Jews and shooting 3 million more and dumping them into graves they dug themselves thing.

Or did you forget?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:09 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


But that's part of the problem and what I was talking about. We can't even talk about real, genuine problems we have because admitting we may have a problem is implying we're not the best in the world anymore and, well, mustn't do that!

What country are you living in? We're constantly talking about these problems--non-stop. We just can't agree on how to solve them. Because we are a democracy, it means we have to eventually agree.

Listen, this isn't the West Wing. It is going to be real hard to make these changes. A lot of people put a lot of effort into the contradictions in our system. That investment comes with huge baggage and they are going to spend a lot of time fighting to defend those positions, not realizing that there were incredible inconsistencies internally. And they are Americans, which means, believe it or not, they have a right to take those positions, as short-sighted as they are. Right now, those people are backed into a corner. As they've lost more and more ground, they've become more and more rigid--they are on the edge of having to change their world view. And, frankly, this summer is that summer where that realization is hitting home. NY has full-on Gay marriage and they are going to have to eat their no-tax pledge or send the country reeling--while the mass of the American people support the needed higher taxes.

But to say we aren't talking about it? We can't stop talking about it.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:21 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


FZ has some interesting thoughts, but he was (is?) an atrocious writer. I remember buying "The Post American World" with much eager anticipation, and being bitterly disappointed by the time I was on page 50 or so. I did not finish the book. This was a couple of years ago, so the details escape me, but the impression I carry is that a lot of his ideas weren't fleshed out at all, and the overall content was in the Thomas Meet-my-taxi-driver Friedman territory.

He's a journalist. You can't expect analysis from them. They operate only in the present moment. No matter what, everything will never change to them until the next big thing comes around, then they write a whole bunch of stories saying how the change was inevitable.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:25 PM on June 30, 2011


Godwin in 29 comments, awesome!
posted by dibblda at 12:06 AM on July 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ironmouth, you could go after the more recent anti-Muslim measures in Europe. I'm guessing most people commenting on metafilter weren't born before or during WWII.
posted by dibblda at 12:08 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


The world's policeman
posted by delmoi at 12:12 AM on July 1, 2011


The problem with self-appointed, rather then democratically controlled police is that if you can't vote out the cops, and you can't do anything if they break the laws they're supposed to enforce, then you basically are living in a police state.

The problem with calling America the "World's policeman" is that they didn't pick us, we just decided to take up that role. And in fact, most Americans would vote against taking that roll if it were up to a vote. It's mainly about keeping defense dollars rolling, as far as I can tell.
posted by delmoi at 12:17 AM on July 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


Western Europe seems a bit more reticent about torturing people, at least.

Except for that whole gassing 3 million Jews and shooting 3 million more and


That's, like, central Europe. (And of course the cold war border between 'eastern' and 'western' Europe actually ran right through Germany, with Berlin being on the eastern side)
posted by delmoi at 12:20 AM on July 1, 2011


Maybe it's because I'm not seasoned, but when the old guard says things are gonna suck, I'm just gonna translate that as things are going to be different, and they don't like it so they think it's bad.

Technology is going to be cooler, but prosperity and wealth is going to be lower. Whether the technological raising of the standards of living continues to advance faster than falling prosperity lowers the standards of living, has yet to be seen, but either way, there is is going to be stuff that is not just different, but bad. Really actually bad.
posted by anonymisc at 12:22 AM on July 1, 2011


What does a post-British world look like?
What does a post-Ottoman world look like?
What does a post-Roman world look like?

Some other asshole civilization will rise to power, run the world how they want to for a while until they screw up and let the next civilization take their turn.

I'm sure if China gets their turn things will be shitty for a generation or two before they all die out from overpopulation and their aggressive population management then the Pax Indus will start.
posted by Talez at 12:27 AM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Or did you forget?

Great response. Subtle, well-reasoned. You lawyers, always enriching the dialogue...
posted by smoke at 12:38 AM on July 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I heard part of the interview today, thought it was quite good. Talking about the debt ceiling, I thought he misspoke when he said this:
The 14th Amendment very clearly says the validity of America's credit and its debts cannot be questioned. I don't have the exact phrase, but it's about as clear as you can get. And so for people who believe in the Constitution, it is to me, beyond bizarre that they're doing this. And I think that President Obama should if he is forced to assert that what Congress is doing is unconstitutional and simply use his a consecutive authority to do what he needs to, to make sure that the United States makes good on its debts.
That's not in the 14th Amendment I remember, but sure enough it's in there:
Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
posted by peeedro at 12:40 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not sure I'd be tempted to read his book based on the few bits about the international order we got there before it turned to more domestic US issues - think Giovanni Arrighi has (nearly twenty years back) said much more useful things about cycles of capital and associated hegemonies. With his 'rise of the rest', Zakaria does seem to be glossing over the crisis at the core - though, as I say, there's only a part of the linked interview that addresses his theories, so I may be being unfair.
posted by Abiezer at 12:44 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Quite honestly, the bruised egos that will undoubtedly be numerous if/when the US' eventual downfall is made impossible to ignore for even the dimmest of the dim scare me more than anything else. There are a lot of people who won't take it well when they realize we aren't on top of the shit heap anymore.

I'm not as fatalistic as BOP, though. I think there's still a decent chance the US will come out on top after this period of economic turmoil is over. Basically, I think that if the Euro ends up going away before China stops being so dependent on foreign demand, the US will be in the driver's seat for a while longer. If not, the Chinese will have plenty of leverage to use against us.

Sad that it pretty much comes down to whether the Eurozone or the US can kick the can down the road longer.

Personally, I'd be quite fine with seeing the US return to our seat and stop standing on the stage with a ruler in our hand like some demented schoolmarm, even though it's almost certain to be less awesome for me than attaining complete economic hegemony over the world, which is easily within our grasp given a few judicious dirty tricks.

And all the while, the GOP inadvertently pushes us ever closer to immediate turmoil instead of the gradual descent laid out before us.

Re: the 14th Amendment argument, it could be argued that since Congress set forth a specific limit as to the indebtedness of the nation, any debts in excess of that limit would not be authorized by law.
posted by wierdo at 12:45 AM on July 1, 2011


Here's what I don't understand about the debt ceiling.

The U.S congress passes a budget every year. The budget is a law that say X Y and Z dollars will be spent on items x, y and z. It also sets the taxes A B and C. But there is also a law that says the debt can't go above a certain amount (call it D)

So what happens if X+Y+Z-A-B-C > D. aren't those laws then in conflict? Why doesn't the most recent law take precedent. If the law says you HAVE to spend X Y and Z how can they not spend it?
posted by delmoi at 12:50 AM on July 1, 2011


Re: the 14th Amendment argument, it could be argued that since Congress set forth a specific limit as to the indebtedness of the nation, any debts in excess of that limit would not be authorized by law.

Sure but that's a pretty weak argument. Congress has the exclusive power to set spending levels and taxation rates. They are free to do so until their action are contradicted by the Constitution. If the Constitution says the public debt "shall not be questioned" then it looks like going into default is verboten.
posted by peeedro at 1:09 AM on July 1, 2011


In the past, we didn't rely upon routine issues of debt for the functioning of our government (or economic system), so Congress approved each issue individually. Apparently, at some point, Congress saw fit to delegate the details to the executive branch. Where would the executive claim their authority to issue debt arose, if they chose to issue debt in excess of the limit? (genuine question, not snark)
posted by wierdo at 1:24 AM on July 1, 2011


Maybe it's because I'm not seasoned, but when the old guard says things are gonna suck, I'm just gonna translate that as things are going to be different, and they don't like it so they think it's bad.

Actually, some of the old guard are looking forward to sturm und drang - enough to wake people up, get them off their TV-watchin', facebook frendin'. coca-cola sippin', french-fry eatin', suburban auto commutin' arses and realize that life don't run on automatic, unless you wanna to be a robot - or worse.

What we don't have is a good dictator, for just a few days; that's what we need - with just enough time to nationalize the banks, completely destroy the insurance industry, put large corporate polluters in jail, and a few other choice moves; then we could get back to gettin' back.
posted by Vibrissae at 3:54 AM on July 1, 2011


What we don't have is a good dictator, for just a few days; that's what we need

You never get a good dictator just for a few days. Ask any Russian about the "withering away of the state" that was supposed to happen once the Dictatorship of the Proletariat had served its purpose.
posted by acb at 4:07 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


This may be a derail, but as a serious, non-rhetorical question: could someone explain why Zakaria is so often identified as a Conservative?
posted by lodurr at 4:20 AM on July 1, 2011


Where would the executive claim their authority to issue debt arose, if they chose to issue debt in excess of the limit? (genuine question, not snark)

Isn't Zakaria's point that it's the limit that's unconstitutional?
posted by lodurr at 4:22 AM on July 1, 2011


Why doesn't the most recent law take precedent.

Because then, there's no point for the previous law to even exist.

Now, it may turn out that this is not a compelling reason, and that they're free to pass laws that turn out to be pointless, and if they wanted to restrict their own ability to pass future laws, they should've gotten a Constitutional amendment through.
posted by Jpfed at 4:25 AM on July 1, 2011


So what happens if X+Y+Z-A-B-C > D. aren't those laws then in conflict? Why doesn't the most recent law take precedent. If the law says you HAVE to spend X Y and Z how can they not spend it?

I'm just guessing here, but I'd imagine there's some copy-paste language in the budget bills that affirm the debt limit.
posted by spaltavian at 5:21 AM on July 1, 2011


I see absolutely no evidence that US influence is on the wane globally - there are places where it was never as solid as we believed (Pakistan), and there are competitors for Soft Power influence, but the Chinese and UAE are so far removed from the cold-war shenanigans of the Soviets, Cubans and Eastern Block, they can't even see it on a clear day. Get back to me when China gets up to it's elbows in an African or South American civil war.

The US has proved it can wage war on an apocalyptic level, in a land-locked country famous for guerrilla resistance, for a solid decade, without raising taxes. We proved we can invade and kill any regime you can think of on credit.

Just because there are countries who are suspicious of the US, and would rather not be seen as a vassal state, doesn't mean the US's power is on the wane.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:57 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm with Talez on this one.

In terms of the history of Civilization, the USA hasn't been around long at all. That it grew to dominate the world over the course of a century or so was quite remarkable - but that it will lose that position in time is inevitable. Perhaps that is what we are seeing now, or perhaps it won't happen for 100 years or more. But it will happen.

Not that it's a bad thing. As a Brit, I think the collapse of our empire has changed our national character for the better. Generally speaking, we have a sense of humour and humility about it. My great fear is not losing America's protection - it's that America will handle the decline badly, and we'll be forced to decide between staying friends with the psychotic superpower and total annihilation.

If Rome had had nukes...
posted by Acey at 6:25 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


That it grew to dominate the world over the course of a century or so was quite remarkable

Not so remarkable at all - Europe decided to incinerate itself, in the process cranking up a massive American industrial machine to fight that war, and then that industrial machine proceeded to sell Europe all it needed to rebuild, without much competition. Also, the cold war kept that machine busy in all sorts of ways.

Here's what I don't understand about the debt ceiling.
Planet Money did a wonderful story on how we got into this mess. And it is, indeed, absurd.

As for the debt limit... I think politics is a lot more sane in many countries, especially in Europe, because these countries have paid the price for political extremism - war, totalitarianism, etc. America has admittedly been politically extreme for a long time, but I think the last time the US paid for it was the civil war. Since then, our high place in the post-WW2 order and our insane growth rate have shielded us from the effects of our own extremism because there was sufficient money going around to make a dysfunctional political system tolerable, but thats not the case anymore.

So, a part of me kind of wants the dems to call the republican bluff, and if the country defaults, maybe we'd learn a lesson about ideological extremism.
posted by tempythethird at 7:06 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


This may be a derail, but as a serious, non-rhetorical question: could someone explain why Zakaria is so often identified as a Conservative?

He's taken a few "conservative" positions in the past - initially pro-Iraq War, for example. And with the polarization that's been taking place over the past few election cycles, it's easier to just stick someone in a pigeonhole than to take a closer look. He's a centrist, essentially, who swings Left or Right to a limited degree depending on the specific issue.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:19 AM on July 1, 2011




As a Republican, I welcome America not having such an influence in the world, a world comig onto it's own voice. Countries are freeing themselves from tryanny. China pretty much leds in manufacturing, thus the responsiblity is eased. (who can fight communist controled interlaced with naked capitalist desires.) Less dirty deals, more money to spend on the debt and rebuilding our infra.

What most of you don't relize this had been planned for 15 years now.
I dream of the day when we don't have to protect Germany, Japan, Korea, the Middle East, Central America...leave anyone out.

Time to retire, just like ole Cincinnatus.

Here is material for smoke to read when the resousce wars start
posted by clavdivs at 7:34 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing most people commenting on metafilter weren't born before or during WWII.
The subject is the world post-Pax-Americana, right? So if we want data we pretty much *have* to look at WWII and earlier. We're trying to imagine a future more like the past, one where success as a dictator correlates less with kissing-DC-ass skill and even more with ruthlessly-crushing-opposition skill. It seems relevant that the last time we lived in a world where dreams of world domination were considered plausible, would-be-world-dominators were relatively common and poorly behaved, and even the "good guys" were cruel imperialists (in the literal sense, not just the modern often-metaphorical usage) and communist dictators.

This isn't to say that Western Europe is going to *suddenly* undergo a cultural shift and start cranking out Napoleons and Hitlers again. But in the long run? No country in the world is anything like sociologically stable today, and assuming that a few historically-recent cultural improvements are actually permanent human rights victories may just be wishful thinking.
posted by roystgnr at 8:03 AM on July 1, 2011


This isn't to say that Western Europe is going to *suddenly* undergo a cultural shift and start cranking out Napoleons and Hitlers again.

If you meant these as potential opposites that Europe could culturally swing to, then great. If you mistook them as having something in common, then shame. The fact that they were both involved in pan-European wars that killed millions is as near as they come in similarity. Hitler was always going to be a monster from the depths of the European psyche. But in another age, Napoleon is our Washington.
posted by Jehan at 9:45 AM on July 1, 2011


I agree w/Vidur and Ironmouth about Zakaria as a writer . Very light, rapid, interminable stuff.

(Heh - Zakaria on Middle East protesters, and himself, and NPR:
I think what one would call them, honestly, is yuppies. They're all sort of young urban professionals for the most part.

GROSS: So what's it been like for you to watch them become activists?

Mr. ZAKARIA: You know, I just - I have to say you are - I've been just struck with awe, because these are people who are just like us. They're just ordinary people.
)
posted by doctornemo at 10:30 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


But in another age, Napoleon is our Washington.

I would have though, more like our Henry Ford. Or maybe FDR. He was too much of an iconoclast to qualify as a Washington, who (much as his intellect has been underestimated) was basically a guardian type at root.

Napoleon:Hitler comparisons can be really instructive, actually, if they are framed in the context of a good discussion. Napoleon was far from an entirely admirable person, but I think you're right that he was a person of ordinary sanity and great ambition taking advantage of incredibly bad times. France was in seriously shit shape; the great historical question is whether they could have dragged themselves out of it without a dictator. I like to think the answer is 'yes', but when a country is in that kind of shape, some kind of dictatorship is almost inevitable. (I.e., if they'd had the chance, yes -- but they were never going to get the chance.)
posted by lodurr at 10:40 AM on July 1, 2011


doctormemo, unless you know someone's real name, I think you're mashing my handle up with someone else's to get 'vidur', because I don't have an opinion about zakaria as a writer.
posted by lodurr at 10:44 AM on July 1, 2011


This is an interesting book on that issue, even if Will Hutton underplays the immense influence of the US on post-war social-democracies.
Which is why a lot of thinking Europeans really, really want the US to stay strong. But the age of Bush the 2nd has been a tragedy for America of epic dimensions. Seriously, unless you guys get going soon, I think generations will look at the 00's and ask what happened. The richest and wisest nation in the world, with amazing material and spiritual resources, managed to go from riches to rags in eight years, and left the world to the corrupt and selfish robbers of all nations. I have no reason to feel superior. I live in a country that follows the US through good times and bad. So we have done exactly the same. But we are not world leaders. We will not take others with us in our downfall.
I am not at all negative. Maybe this (US debt failure, Greek bankrupcy, impending Euro disruption) is the scare all in the West need to get back to our core values. But Ils sont fous, ces Romains !* How can you even get to this point?
posted by mumimor at 3:36 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey lodurr, what's up?
posted by vidur at 7:38 PM on July 1, 2011


I think generations will look at the 00's and ask what happened.

This all looks familiar.
posted by Talez at 7:43 PM on July 1, 2011


sorry, man, I didn't see you there!

hey, are you related to my nephew vidarr, by any chance?
posted by lodurr at 3:20 AM on July 2, 2011


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