Reason for a New Age

Pax Americana

Posted by publius2point0 on 2010/02/20


As an American living in the USA, there is little point in me writing a blog focused on the issues of some other nation. But, when you turn to matters of the US’s place in the world at large, one must decide whether he is going to lean towards a largely insular country, or one which tries to act friendly and as one of the team with the rest of the world. Personally, I find both of those positions–which seem to be the only ones available–to be rather silly. I have no interest in staying entirely focused on the internal state of the nation, I have no interest in playing nicely with the rest of the world, but I would also seek to make the entire world a better place for humanity.

It’s a personal stance, but I would say that the produce of a committee will always be fairly blah. Generally, it has a fairly guaranteed minimum of quality on its output, but a similarly guaranteed maximum, and both these values are fairly close to one another. You give that same power to a single leader and you can end up with something of any level of quality from awful to awesome. The speed at which results are produced will, similarly, generally be faster for the individual leader than the committee. If you take a single leader and a committee and tie them together properly, you can end up with a state whereby if the leader is better than blah, you get that, and if he is worse, the committee keeps anything less than blah from making it through until a proper leader is established. This is the reason why most countries have a single leader attached to some form of committee like congress, the diet, or parliament.

I would say that at this moment in time, the world has achieved this state through sheer luck. By power of economy and military, the US has an impressive ability to affect the course of the world, but since it is not actually ruler of the world or any such thing, it is still beholden to the good graces of all other nations on the planet.

If the US does lose its position, the possible resulting scenarios are:

1) The world becomes more like a committee and very little can be accomplished on a global scale.

2) The global economy starts a major race to the bottom as no one nation has a sufficiently nasty glare or large enough basket to keep people to some minimum of quality.

3) China, India, or Russia possibly step in to take that place. The EU might as well, but frankly I think that would be no different from rule-by-committee as the EU still lacks a particularly strong federal government.

None of these are particularly encouraging for the peace nor prosperity of the world. As the US declines in power, all other nations will need to start arming themselves once more, which could very likely lead to a third world war like WWI, where each party is looking over his border and worrying that the new arms and technology that the neighbor is building up is for offense, not defense.

Possibly more frightening is the risk that the US loses its financial import but maintains its military one. As the saying goes, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. With only one way to influence other nations, there’s no particular guarantee that we won’t use it. Assuming ourselves to be more enlightened than people of the past instead in a uniquely peaceful period of time brought on by the particular balance of power in the world, is almost certainly foolish. Get the US public mad, give them the greatest military in the world, and zero way to influence the rest of the world except by military force, and military force is likely to come out–to no ones advantage.

When possible, you would always rather have the stick and the carrot, than just one of either.

What all of this means in practical terms is that the US should not be insular, for we only risk losing our economic position by doing that, but nor should we play nice. We should use our influence to specifically try and lead the world towards grand endeavors. But to do that, we must also play hardball a bit to retain our position as China, India, Russia, and the EU continue to grow. Unfortunately, the corporations of the US are to some extent lead by the US government. Neither group might think of itself in such a way, but outside of the US government there is no single organization which can work for the benefit of the entire US economy. You can’t leave it to Bill Gates to figure out what the US needs to remain competitive and implement it, at a national scale.

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2 Responses to “Pax Americana”

  1. Roberta said

    If you were a politician running for office in the U.S. right now, or thinking of running for office, what would you say your policies would be?

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