May 22, 2013
They launched the 'Arab Spring' but now yearn for the good old days of a strongman
May 20, 2013
Richard A. Serrano: Is Meir Kahane's assassin now a changed man?
Genetic copies of living people from embryos no longer science fiction
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom :
The Kosher Gourmet by Cathy Pollak:
Jews Inducted into Rock Hall of Fame; Anton Yelchin co-stars in New "Trek" film; Kutcher (but not Kunis) visits Israel; Jewish TV Star Praises Jewish Rap Star
WARNING: This WALNUT CAKE WITH PRALINE FROSTING, perfect for afternoon coffee, is addicting
May 13, 2013
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo: Why the giving of the document that would permanently change the world could only be done in desolation
David G. Savage:
Church-state, literally? Supreme Court weighing public school graduation in a church
May 10, 2013
Rabbi Berel Wein: Be all that you should be
May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
Obama administration quietly backs out of appeal over new contraceptive mandate
At Kerry-Putin meeting, US-Russia relations thaw --- a tad
The Kosher Gourmet by Leela Cyd Ross :
Almost too pretty to eat, this colorful salad with Sicilian inspiration will tickle the taste buds and delight your visual sensibility
May 6, 2013
May 3, 2013
Kids, kittens the Same?
With employee perks at struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! it's hard to tell
Artificial kidney offers hope to patients tethered to a dialysis machine
April 29, 2013
Poland's new Jewish museum celebrates life, doesn't revisit Holocaust
Terrorism in America: Is US missing a chance to learn from failed plots?
Boston Bomber's 'Svengali' Revealed
Tiny satellites + cellphones = cheaper 'eyes in the sky' for NASA
April 26, 2013
Clifford D. May:
Defense in the Age of Jihadist Terrorism
Sharon Palmer, R.D.:
How to feel your best -- with plenty of energy, a healthy weight and optimal mental and physical function -- without driving yourself batty
April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
May 26, 2011
22 Iyar, 5771
Back to the Pre-American World
Victor Davis Hanson
Is America's preeminent world role over?
That's what a recent New Yorker essay, based on interviews with presidential advisers, claimed. It characterized the new Obama foreign-relations style as "leading from behind" -- given the supposed inevitable American decline and growing unpopularity. The president is said to agree with pundits such as Fareed Zakaria and Tom Friedman, who have often outlined the parameters of what the post-American world would look like.
But if American abrogates its preeminent leadership position of the last 65 years, wouldn't the world look a lot like it did in the pre-American days of the 1930s? Then, a Depression-era United States was just one of many powers and reluctant to assert leadership abroad.
Eighty years ago, a newly Westernized and anti-democratic Japanese powerhouse, in the fashion of today's rising China, was carving out uncontested Asian spheres of influence. An oil-, rubber- and iron-hungry imperial Japan claimed it needed more natural resources to fuel its industrial revolution, and so spread an authoritarian Asian co-prosperity sphere of influence as an alternative to alliance with an economically depressed and psychologically withdrawn America.
Most Americans then were tired anyway of overseas commitments. Our ancestors felt that their considerable sacrifices in World War I either had gone unappreciated or had solved little -- not unlike the way we are becoming exhausted by Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya.
A newly confident, united and ascendant Germany was growing angry at other European countries. It nursed a long list of financial grievances over feeling used and abused. Sound familiar? A weak Britain and France had almost no confidence in their own declining militaries -- sort of like the sad spectacle of their impotence in Libya that we have witnessed over the last two months.
Much-vaunted international institutions, like the bankrupt League of Nations, were about as effective in the role of world watchdogs as the corrupt United Nations is today. Europe and America were emerging from the nightmare of financial insolvency.
The so-called international community cared as much in the 1930s about rising, aggressive totalitarian states in Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia as it does today about ascendant China or Iran. Millions of Jews, then as now, heard crazy threats of their annihilation, and desperately -- and in vain -- looked to the protection of the United States.
In other words, the post-American world could look a lot like the rather terrifying pre-American version of seven decades past. Why in the world would we wish to return to it?
The declinists insist we have no choice. Globalization has spread power. America has depleted its resources, both natural and financial. And our prior leadership abroad is something worthy of apology rather than pride anyway. Think of receding postcolonial Britain around 1946 as our model, not the confident, rising postwar United States of Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
But decline is always a choice, not an inevitable fate. America's known fossil-fuel reserves -- natural gas, oil, coal, shale, tar-sands -- are larger than ever. The problem is not finding more energy but marshaling the will to use the vast new sources of energy we have recently discovered.
Our military is not just larger than the alternatives, but vastly larger and ever more lethal. Given the enormous size and productivity of the U.S. economy, we have the means -- but not yet the will -- to rapidly pay down our huge debt. In a world short on food, America is the world's greatest agricultural producer.
Other industrialized populations age and decline; ours is still growing. America is widely criticized abroad even as it remains by far the favored destination of global immigrants. Diverse religious practice is still vibrant in the United States. Elsewhere, it is fossilized in Europe, nonexistent in China, and intolerant in the Middle East.
While riots, strikes or revolutions sweep southern Europe and the Middle East, the United States remains stable and quiet -- despite far greater racial, ethnic and religious diversity. Globalization is still mostly a phenomenon of American innovation and originality to be licensed and outsourced abroad.
There have been plenty of thugs who threatened their neighbors over the last 30 years. Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Manuel Noriega and the Taliban were all deposed from rule only by American power. The "lost" war in Iraq resulted in a democratic and, for now, still viable government in place of genocide. Afghanistan is depressing, but the medieval Taliban still have remained out of power for nearly a decade.
In short, the old pre-American world was as unstable and dangerous as would be a new post-American update. But both retrenchments were choices that an unsure and depressed United States made -- not symptoms, then or now, of inherent weakness or inevitable decline.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.
© 2011, TMS
Richard Z. Chesnoff
Frank J. Gaffney
Victor Davis Hanson
A. Barton Hinkle
Judge A. Napolitano
Cokie & Steve Roberts
Debra J. Saunders
J. D. Crowe
Ask Doctor K