Just a few years ago, (the United states of) America’s hold on global power seemed unshakable. But a lot has changed while we’ve been in Iraq — and the next president is going to be dealing with not only a triumphant China and a retooled Europe but also the quiet rise of a ‘‘second world.’’ NYT + Discuss
America’s share of global exchange reserves has dropped to 65 percent. Gisele Bündchen demands to be paid in euros, while Jay-Z drowns in 500 euro notes in a recent video. American soft power seems on the wane even at home.
Many poor regions of the world have realized that they want the European dream, not the American dream.
Many of the foreign students we shunned after 9/11 are now in London and Berlin: twice as many Chinese study in Europe as in the U.S. We didn’t educate them, so we have no claims on their brains or loyalties as we have in decades past.
Without firing a shot, China is doing on its southern and western peripheries what Europe is achieving to its east and south. Aided by a 35 million-strong ethnic Chinese diaspora well placed around East Asia’s rising economies, a Greater Chinese Co-Prosperity Sphere has emerged. Like Europeans, Asians are insulating themselves from America’s economic uncertainties. Under Japanese sponsorship, they plan to launch their own regional monetary fund, while China has slashed tariffs and increased loans to its Southeast Asian neighbors. Trade within the India-Japan-Australia triangle — of which China sits at the center — has surpassed trade across the Pacific.
With or without America, Asia is shaping the world’s destiny — and exposing the flaws of the grand narrative of Western civilization in the process.
Maintaining America’s empire can only get costlier in both blood and treasure. It isn’t worth it, and history promises the effort will fail. It already has.
Neither China nor the E.U. will replace the U.S. as the world’s sole leader; rather all three will constantly struggle to gain influence on their own and balance one another. Europe will promote its supranational integration model as a path to resolving Mideast disputes and organizing Africa, while China will push a Beijing consensus based on respect for sovereignty and mutual economic benefit. America must make itself irresistible to stay in the game.
For the next president, How to move forward:
First, channel your inner J.F.K. You are president, not emperor. You are commander in chief and also diplomat in chief.
Second, Pentagonize the State Department
Third, deploy the marchmen, the foot-soldiers of empire spreading values and winning loyalty. That’s right. In true American fashion, we must build a diplomatic-industrial complex.
Fourth, make the global economy work for us.
Fifth, convene a G-3 of the Big Three. But don’t set the agenda; suggest it.