January 26, 2008

Waving Goodbye to Hegemony

Parag Khanna is so freaking smart. You know when you meet people and walk away thinking, Damn, I can spend the rest of my life in a library or traveling the world and still not be as smart as that guy. Parag is that guy. We'll hang out, and Abu Muqawama's alter ego will spend most of the conversation just treading water intellectually. Anyway, Parag has the cover story in the New York Times Magazine this week on the decline of American power. (This is a preview of his new book.) Whether or not you agree or disagree with what he says here, he makes some powerful arguments.

At best, America’s unipolar moment lasted through the 1990s, but that was also a decade adrift. The post-cold-war “peace dividend” was never converted into a global liberal order under American leadership. So now, rather than bestriding the globe, we are competing — and losing — in a geopolitical marketplace alongside the world’s other superpowers: the European Union and China. This is geopolitics in the 21st century: the new Big Three. Not Russia, an increasingly depopulated expanse run by Gazprom.gov; not an incoherent Islam embroiled in internal wars; and not India, lagging decades behind China in both development and strategic appetite. The Big Three make the rules — their own rules — without any one of them dominating. And the others are left to choose their suitors in this post-American world.