Lexington Green, of Chicago Boyz, kindly linked to a book review on of Kurlantzick’s “soft power” book by in the open thread.
My thoughts (the quoted section is from the original article):
The “flat world” of globalization, so stridently advocated by Clinton and the current presidency of George W Bush, simply did not create the improved quality of life it promised for many Third World countries.”
How long has the “developing world” been “developing”? How long as the Third World waited as the global Third Estate preparing to take over?
The reason that life in the Afro-Islamic Gap sucks is that the Afro-Islamic Gap is culturally bankrupt. Europe’s experiments with totalitarian fascism were stupidly imported by the Muslim world after World War II, whle sub-saharan Africa’s colonial development was canceled because it cost Europeans too much money.
The continued horror of life in the gap is not because of the Washington Consensus, or Bill Clinton, or even the Iraq War: the continued horror of life in the gap is a reflection of life during most of human history: nasty, brutish, solitary, and short. The Gap, that prison of billions of persons, is the true whore of the world: capable of taknig cash, incapable of love.
After America crushed the final attempts of Europe to give a damn about life in the Gap, Gap elites have profited by taking cahs from this or that foreign power in exchange for some fleeting commodity. During the Cold War, the customers were Washington and Moscow and the good was whether or not to put the meaningless word “People’s ” before the meaningless word “Republic” in their country’s name. Now the situation has chnaged to selling raw physical materials: coal, tin, etc. Not an improvement.
China has moved into the US’s and USSR’s roles of paying with few questions asked. That’s a sign of Chinese power (compared to Deng’s first international act, say, which was to purchase feed-grade wheat to feed starving Chinese), but also a sign of China’s weakness (playing for nickles and dimes). America’s larger goal is to end history on her terms.
The United States is arrogantly accustomed to peace, having driven her early neighbors (Britain, France, Spain) from her neighbors and long ago establishing military hegemony over Canada and Mexico. Now the US extends the reach of capitalist peace under American protection from western Europe and Japan (end of World War II) to self-sustaining capitalist peace for all of Europe and all of the Pacific Rime (now). The material benefits to nearly everyone are obvious. America’s profit is that she manages to stop the rise and fall of states, unlike Britain in the 19th century, France in the 18th, Turkey in the 17th, Spain in the 16th, or the Empire in the 15th. No more wars or rumors of wars, for the first time since the Pax Romana.
Now that’s soft power.