This article makes the claim that Putin is now the world’s most powerful leader instead of Obama (as ranked by Forbes). Does this mean the end of the American unipolar era? Only time will tell, however, it’s doubtful, considering the massive military and economic might that the US musters. It’s definitely a blow to American dominance worldwide– but that doesn’t mean it has to signal the collapse of our leadership. Let’s just hope that the United States and Russia can continue along with reset policies and keep the relationship growing and strong.
This article, written by Robert Kagan, takes the stance that American hegemony isn’t, in fact, in decline– instead, it’s as strong as ever. Kagan may be a hack for hegemony, but he makes some really good arguments as to why this is true.
What I think the best argument he makes (and the most logical one) is that our power projection worldwide is still stable because of our sheer military power. Our military is significantly larger than any other military in the world. In fact, Kagan indicates that it’s larger than the rest of the world’s military spending combined. Since military dominance is how a country like the US is able to maintain its control over the world, it seems to me that the size of our military means our hegemony is sound. Especially because of the amount of troops and military alliances we have in every region of the world, it’s hard to imagine a world in which we aren’t the strongest military power in the world.
Another argument that Kagan makes is that while other countries may be experiencing particularly high periods of economic growth, that growth helps the US more than anything. Since we have trade partnerships with countries like India and Turkey, we benefit economically from them growing economically. Some war hawks think that Chinese economic growth signals the end of American hegemony, but even if that’s true, it’s impossible to deny that their economic growth directly influences ours. Therefore, Chinese economic growth also helps America’s economy. And our economy is the lynchpin of our hegemony– it’s how we afford our massive military, and it’s how we can convince other countries to create new trade alliances and forge new relationships with us.
Kagan also analyzes historical periods in which American hegemony was supposedly in decline. He dissects each of these periods in time and indicates that even though we’ve had other problems domestically and abroad, they haven’t been enough to trigger a collapse in American hegemony. If decline wasn’t final in the past, there isn’t a reason why it’ll be final now.
Kagan’s article is really long and makes some really good arguments as to why American decline is a myth, and I absolutely encourage anyone who’s interested in this topic to read his article in its entirety.
Edit– I posted a broken link on accident. The real article can be found here. Sorry about that.
This post by NPR today makes the argument why the US should allow Assad to stay in power in Syria. It’s an interesting argument, indicating that if his regime was to fall, Syria could be put into more chaos, resulting in his chemical weapons falling into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. I still don’t know how I feel about the issue, but it’s a persuasive argument.
Today, Obama announced that he would try to take the diplomatic route on stopping Syria from using chemical weapons , an action proposed by Russia a few days ago. I absolutely commend the president on his attempts to resolve the issues in Syria diplomatically, however, I’m not sure if it will be sufficient to solve the problem. Who’s to say whether the regime will give up its chemical weapons, or if they give up some of them, who’s the say they won’t give up all of them? While getting rid of Syria’s chemical weapons is certainly a good thing, why would that stop the violence occurring there on a daily basis? It seems to simply be a band-aid solution to an underlying problem.
I honestly don’t know if I think we should intervene in Syria or not. On the one hand, I think that the violence happening there needs to be stopped before it erupts into something that destabilizes the entire Middle East, but on the other, I think about our past failed interventions in the Middle East which only resulted in worse violence and postponing problems. I also don’t know if we should support the regime or the rebels. Hell, I don’t think we even have a clear idea of who has the chemical weapons and who used them. Certain sources say the rebels have them, and other sources say the regime in Syria have and used them. It’s a massive mess with no clear solution.
And I fear that we are running out of time to make a decision. Obviously the daily killings and the current death toll is inexcusable, but I fear that Syrian instability would spill over to cause instability in the greater Middle East. If so, tensions between Iran and Israel may ratchet up to the point of no return. Terrorist organizations may get their hands on nuclear weapons and fire them against other nations. Oil prices may fluctuate to create shocks in the global economy.
I don’t know what we should do, or if we should even do anything. But I think that the world needs to figure out how to deal with the situation in Syria as soon as possible.
I won’t lie, I was one of the people who really needed to read this article about 3-4 weeks ago. Even if you think you’re an expert on all things Syria, I’d suggest checking it out. It definitely helped me to better conceptualize the situation.