Thursday, October 02, 2008

The End of the Superpower?

Very interesting article from the BBC, which always remains my go-to source for world news and that all-important ouside perspective on America. The financial crisis, in a way, points to the end of an era of American dominance, the end of the superpower age. This isn't to say that we are finished or that we face endless decline. The world has been moving into a multi-polar, multi-connected direction; at least it was during the Clinton years. With Bush/Cheney, the Republican Neocons tried to push in the other direction, the Pax Americana.

I think in a sense we are now reaping the consequences of that ideology. This concept of the US as the modern Rome, as the uncontested Empire that can stomp around the globe and push its weight around - this has always been a doomed fantasy. In its wake, we are left with staggering debt (nearly all the result of 30 years of GOP fiscal policy), endless wars, broken reputations, broken treaties, broken promises.

The Republican version of America is unworkable, and now it is collapsing. This was always inevitable, and many voices have been shouting against this recklessness for a generation. The financial crisis we are now caught in is the final result of the Bush/Cheney years, and almost 30 years of conservative ideology. The Reagan era is finally coming to a close, and the world of the 21st Century is moving in new, more progressive, directions.

That's the real story we're now facing. Of course, much still hangs on the 2008 Presidential election. But even if McCain were to somehow win in November, it would be a phyrric victory. The Republican coalition - its party, its ideology, its brand - hangs in tatters and shreds. Who will believe the fantasy of "free market solutions" now? Who will buy the notion of tax cuts for the wealthy, of deregulation, of letting Wall Street have its way? Who will sign on to more and more wars? What segments of our population are left to demonize and fear?

The United States is now a much poorer nation than it was when Bill Clinton left office. That much is certain to just about everyone. That's the one good thing about one-party rule. It's easy to figure out who's to blame when it all goes sour. Now with the ascendency of Barack Obama, the pendalum is swinging again, and the New Democratic Era will begin in earnest. If he is even slightly successful during his tenure, Obama will have banished the Republicans from power for a generation.

And the Empire, I pray, will disappear. The Old Republic shall be restored. The America of Jimmy Stewart, of the Marx Brothers, of Miles Davis and John Coltrane - that America must return to the global stage, not as a superpower to be feared, but as the world's best friend.

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