Thursday, January 24, 2008

Unipolar Melt

As I have been arguing for years, falling prey to the seduction of "unipolarity," and vastly overestimating its scope and permanence, only accelerates its unraveling. In this, the Bush administration and its ideological enablers have been singularly blameworthy. But the damage has not been limited to the realm of foreign policy necessarily. Bush administration economic policies (including enormous expenditures on multiple wars while enacting unprecedented simultaneous multi-trillion dollar tax cuts), have greatly weakened our global economic position and compromised our fiscal independence.

Blake Hounshell interviewed Ian Buruma regarding his recent trip to the Davos conference (first time back in 8 years), and his observations in comparison are telling:

It's my second time, and it's the complete opposite of the first time, which shows you how perceptions and moods can change. The first time was in 2000, and the mood of the conference then was that the United States was so far ahead of the rest of the world that nobody would ever catch up again, because it was the height of the high-tech boom and all that. And now it's the sort of the opposite, and the U.S. is kind of humble and clearly desperate for money from the Arabs and the Chinese and so on forth... Condi Rice talking about mistakes having been made.

What everybody's talking about in the halls, of course, is the economic crisis. And one of the subthemes is that the West and the U.S. in particular needs to be propped up more and more money from countries that are not democratic. And so the discussion is what the consequences of that are. One of the answers has been that the Gulf States and China and so on should be pressed for more transparency in their financial transactions.

So, just as the dominance of the U.S. was a given in 2000, the so-called shift in power from the Atlantic world led by the United States to a very new world seems to be the received opinion now.

Unsurprisingly, the Republican Party's response to this ever-worsening condition is to...make Bush's tax cuts permanent, cut trillions more dollars in taxes and continue our occupation of Iraq to the tune of a few billion dollars a week for the next ten years. Or hundred years, as needed. Yeah, that should really stabilize our economic condition, and lessen our dependence on foreign subsidization of debt.

And they accuse liberals of being insufficiently enthusiastic in their love of country. With love like that, who needs hate.

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