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Krugman ends his column with an interesting assertion:

... war among the nations of Western Europe really does seem inconceivable now, not so much because of economic ties as because of shared democratic values.

Much of the world, however, including nations that play a key role in the global economy, doesn't share those values. Most of us have proceeded on the belief that, at least as far as economics goes, this doesn't matter -- that we can count on world trade continuing to flow freely simply because it's so profitable. But that's not a safe assumption. ...

I think Krugman is warm, but does not quite nail it.

First, he is not talking about "shared democratic values", but "shared identity" -- even if that identity, as "Western European", is not explicitly stated or precisely delineated, and even if it is in large part based on those shared democratic values (as well as shared culture, religion, I would even say race).

Second, war in Western Europe seems inconceivable now not only because of shared Western European identity, but also because of shared economic security.  Take away the latter, and shared identity would not be enough to rule out war in Western Europe.

Although there is both a lack of shared identity (e.g. as "human beings" or as "creatures of the Earth") as well as a lack of shared economic security among the peoples of the world, at this point the more likely reason for a major war to ruin Pax Americana is the latter, not the former.

Cynicism is intellectual treason.

by marco on Fri Aug 15th, 2008 at 10:36:20 AM EST

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