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The first world, or west
September 9, 2002 11:54 AM   Subscribe

The first world, or west or any other generic term, is not the cosy alliance it once was according to this author. There is a growing schism which is becoming wider, is this a problem. Whilst on a lighter note the house of Sauds' representative here in the UK maintains a war on iraq is madness, seems everything is just super.
posted by johnnyboy (8 comments total)

 
I do find it truly astounding how so much good will from the World (even the French) could be squandered so quickly and completely by the Dubya administration.
posted by quirked at 12:39 PM on September 9, 2002


Good riddance, I say.
posted by dagny at 12:52 PM on September 9, 2002


Yeah good riddance, it's not like the US needs any allies in it's war on terrorism. All those countries wanting to help root out Al Quaeda - fuck'em.
posted by niceness at 1:22 PM on September 9, 2002


Can an alliance like the "West" hold it together without an exterior threat to its members? Before German and then Soviet threats (from the "East"), the "West" was much more divided against itself than it is now. Al Qaeda doesn't seem to pose the sort of threat that will keep the "West" together, but I'm not sure why. "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
posted by smrtsch at 3:45 PM on September 9, 2002


Alliances for the sake of "being multilateral" are foolish. Alliances without a purpose are destined to fragment. Goodwill that does not transfer to cooperation is a nullity that cannot be "squandered"; it had virtually no value in the first place. It's not just the Bush administration -- a majority of Americans still support what it's doing. When Harper's runs an article (not yet online) called Le Divorce that examines a divergence in goals and worldviews between the US and Europe, it isn't the consequence of some short-term ill-considered decisions in Washington.

There are those on both sides who are ginning this up into something more than it is. Americans who say "Europe wants to tell us what to do? Screw 'em!" are as numerous as Europeans who say "The Americans won't listen to us?" (which if you consider it, is just as patronizing and arrogant an attitude). The prior concept of "The West" may need some redefinition; for example, there's some discussion in foreign policy circles of an emergent "Anglosphere", which is the nations with a strong tradition of democracy and liberal capitalism, at its core being the English-speaking nations. Britain's continued cleaving to the US may be more significant than merely Tony Blair currying favor; the whole dalliance with the continent could be in question. I think that's extreme. Europe is very unlikely to become a significant rival to the US, though: they would need enormous investment in their military to go their own way geostrategically, and they're not interested in the cuts in social spending that would be necessary even if they wanted to in the first place. This leaves them little choice but to continue as the US's little brother. Of the two other quasi-superpowers, Russia and China, neither is capable of taking the reins of a new coalition.

There really aren't any alternatives. The carpers will continue to carp, but the tenor and volume are probably inversely proportionate to the likelihood of tangible change.
posted by dhartung at 4:39 PM on September 9, 2002


Alliances for the sake of "being multilateral" are foolish.

Strawmen for the sake of cementing fantasies of irrevocable division are equally foolish.

Britain's continued cleaving to the US may be more significant than merely Tony Blair currying favor; the whole dalliance with the continent could be in question.

If anything's going to drive Britain wholeheartedly into the arms of Europe, it's Blair's arrogant disdain for such archaic traditions as Cabinet governance and Parliamentary supremacy. (Iain Duncan Smith's even greater toadyism basically sells Europe even more.) So don't hold your breath. And Norman Baker's The Isles is just the most recent of many studies which shows that the British 'dalliance with the continent' is a symbiotic relationship that extends back to Caesar. Sorry to prick that little bubble of fantasy.
An idea of community requires belief in a shared, not a separate, future, one in which everybody counts, everybody has a role to play and we all do better when we help each other. Belief in a shared future requires rejecting the radical fundamentalist claim to possess the whole truth in favour of the belief that life is a journey in search of the truth and that we all have something to contribute. That leads us to the core of what we value in the integrated global community: our differences are important, but our common humanity matters more.
That's somewhere to start.
posted by riviera at 4:53 PM on September 9, 2002


"they would need enormous investment in their military to go their own way geostrategically" - I'm not sure that Europe's rivalry with the US need be primarily a military one. After all, the 'threat' from Japan and the far east was never a miltary one, but an economic one.
posted by daveg at 6:35 AM on September 10, 2002


Geeze...isn't anyone going to write her and tell her to use spell check?????????(sarcasm kiddies)
posted by hoopyfrood at 7:00 AM on September 10, 2002


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