Thursday, July 10, 2008

The End of the American Century

The dean of the Australian press corps Paul Kelly returned from the US-Australia gabfest the week before last struck by the signs of decaying American power.

THE energy, financial and political woes that grip the US signal a decisive shift in world power, mocking the liberal delusion that Barack Obama or John McCain can return American prestige and power to its pre-Bush year 2000 nirvana. There is no such nirvana. There is instead a new reality: the greatest transfer of income in human history, away from energy importers such as the US to energy exporters; the rise of a new breed of wealthy autocracies that cripple US hopes of dominating the global system; and demands on the US to make fresh compromises in a world where power is rapidly being diversified.

Read the whole thing. I am also planning to read Fareed Zakaria's book The Post-American World. Based on his comments on BBC Radio he is an optimist.

Obviously this situation is exercising Australian foreign policy thinkers, not all of whom are so sanguine. The future relations between China, Japan, India and the US present many challenges. To give you an idea here is Hugh White in the Interpreter

Japan’s role is critical – it’s not just a US-China thing... let me put the point more bluntly: a stable concert in Asia is only possible if Japan is no longer a strategic client of the US, and that means it needs to have its own nuclear weapons. It is a measure of the strangeness, newness and scariness of our future that we may find ourselves concluding that, absent global abolition of nuclear weapons, an independent Japanese nuclear deterrent is necessary for peace in Asia.


No comments: