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Obama will do more or less exactly the same things as Bush, except he'll look better and he might do them in a cleverer fashion. That actually makes Obama much worse for the rest of the world than Bush would have been. At least Bush was driving the US right over a cliff twenty years before true imperial decline was scheduled to take the country down.
While I largely agree with the premise, I disagree vehemently with the conclusion. I'd much, much rather have a smart emperor running a nuclear power than a drooling moron. "Desperate, flailing implosion" is not a qualifier that's designed to make me sleep soundly when applied to empires with enough megatons to scorch every major city on the planet five times over.
I think the US just got rid of a Yeltsin and replaced him with a Putin. Yes, it means that the US will be more powerful, just as Putin has made Russia more powerful. But I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that humanity is worse off with Putin than with Yeltsin.
Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
But I don't think he'll be making life miserable for quite as many people.
Obviously, the world would be a better place without emperors. But until that happy day, I'd much prefer smart emperors over stupid ones.
You'll notice that I have't argued that Putin was worse than Yeltsin for the majority of the citizens of Russia, or even for EU-Russia relations. Indeed I do not think so. But I won't draw a general conclusion from this specific example. I brought up Hitler and Mussolini to counter JakeS's general claim.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
Putin and Obama, I would argue are realists by comparison. They have a more sober appreciation of the limits of their own power and the reasons why others might oppose them. They are more amenable to negotiated solutions taking both their interests and those of their competing powers into account. They can build on common interests rather than polarising situations to such a degree that only extreme force - on either side - can resolve the conflict of interest.
Obama may not be a starry eyed idealist who will bring peace in our time overnight. But neither would he start stupid wars, and or re-polarise situations that are starting to find a relative level of stability. That is huge improvement on where we have been, and I will take it for the moment.
notes from no w here
OTOH, while being smart does not guarantee that one is not delusional, there is a point where dumb and delusional become virtually indistinguishable.
I think - and at this point a guess is all we have - that Obama has greater mental flexibility than Bush/McCain on the subject of foreign policy. Read: He'll be able to understand and more or less accept when a country has clearly and unequivocally left the US sphere of interest.
Bush/McCain seemed to have no willingness to concede loss of territory. And if you have a major power trying to enforce its will on what is clearly another major power's turf... Bad Things Happen. Think Georgia or Lebanon. Or a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, for that matter.
Yes, a US empire that flails out desperately at a variety of lost causes would weaken itself faster than a US empire that cuts its losses and manages more or less orderly retreats from its former colonies... But flailing about would hurt a lot of people on the way.
See, the rest of the world doesn't want a competent imperial manager for the US. We want an incompetent one, because such people are easier to beat. Bush, being a fool, did immense damage to the US imperium. I hate the US imperium, and I hope to live long enough to see the US itself reduced to the point where it is accorded the same international interest and respect as, say, New Zealand (i.e. pretty much none.
By the logic of this argument, we should all have been rooting for a Palin Presidency. The problem is that if the US is reduced to the influence of a New Zealand, the likelihood is not that we will have lots of New Zealand type countries in the world living in peace and harmony with one another, but a world dominated by China, Russia, Islamic countries or multinational corporations of no particular national loyalty - something which may be happening anyway.
A uni-polar world order leads to unparalleled hubris and arrogance, and I a glad that era is drawing to a close. But a multi-polar world order -in the absence of strong International legal institutions - could be even more unstable. We have to be careful about what we build to prepare the unipolar system - and the cataclysmic decline of the US is not guaranteed to give us a better world.
notes from no w here
"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
I'd never even heard about the guy before he started campaigning, and I always take election campaigns with a largish grain of salt, so I don't think I'm qualified to comment on how much of his program he's actually serious about.
He might surprise us and turn out to be a Gorbachev. He might disappoint us and turn out to be a Bliar. But right now, I think he looks like a Putin.
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