Wednesday, February 14, 2007


(Each "Question of the Week," an idea which I gleaned from A Republic If You Can Keep It, will remain toward the top of the blog until the next question appears. Previous Questions of the Week are HERE. Please scroll down for recent postings)

According to a February 5, 2007 essay in Newsweek, for the first time in the author's memory, at this year's World Economic Forum at Davos, America did not play a substantial role in the event. The essayist offers some possible reasons--including the rise of Asia, then concludes the essay with the following:

The world today bears some resemblance to the 1920s, when a newly globalized economy was booming, and science and technological change were utterly transforming life. (Think of the high-tech of the time—electricity, radio, movies and cars, among other recent inventions.) But with Britain declining and America isolationist, that was truly a world without political direction. Eventually protectionism, nationalism, xenophobia and war engulfed it.

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." That might be a little farfetched. But for those who have been fondly waiting for the waning of American dominance—be careful what you wish for.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Are we experiencing the beginning of a post-U.S. world, or was America's peripheralization at Davos a temporary phenomenon reflecting something else? You'll probably want to read the entire essay before stating your opinion.


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posted by Always On Watch @ 2/14/2007 11:22:00 AM