Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hegemony, smegemony 

There is a saying which goes something like this: better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Bill Clinton was smart enough to make sure the United States kept its mouth closed [insert snarky joke here and read on] But George Bush and Dick Cheney actually believed all the hoke and hype about how the United States was the world's only superpower and how the leader of the United States was the leader of the world and how the United States could do anything it liked, striding the globe like a colossus.
So they started flapping their gums, so to speak. And now the world is sneering.
Ian Welsh writes:
Walk with me a while and imagine you are mad. Crazy. Insane. It's an interesting sort of insanity where you see the world as something other than it is. You are dead convinced that people are out to get you, but these people have almost no means to harm you and fear your retaliation greatly, because you're a powerful person and they are weak.
You believe that you are hale and hearty, but in fact you're ghastly, obese and ill. You think you're rich, but in fact you're poor . . . Your once lean body, packed with muscles, has been replaced by a flaccid one, paunchy and fat . . . The "you" I'm referring to, as I'm sure many have figured out by now, is the US.
It starting to dawn on them now -- with the largest miliary budgets in history they've spent seven years fighting wars against teenagers; their president visits the Middle East and nobody cares; the housing bubble and the plummeting markets of the last week have demonstrated uncomfortable weakness in the American economy. The New York Times piles on:
. . . Many saw the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as the symbols of a global American imperialism; in fact, they were signs of imperial overstretch. Every expenditure has weakened America’s armed forces, and each assertion of power has awakened resistance in the form of terrorist networks, insurgent groups and “asymmetric” weapons like suicide bombers. America’s unipolar moment has inspired diplomatic and financial countermovements to block American bullying and construct an alternate world order . . . 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. . . . 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.
And Atrios concludes:
it's been quite obvious for some time that the neocons who dreamt of American hegemony have basically destroyed it.
On a side note, the NYT also writes:
Condoleezza Rice has said America has no “permanent enemies,” but it has no permanent friends either.
To which I must add, except Canada. Right or wrong, through thick or thin, sink or swim, we're stuck with 'em.

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