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Pondering a World Without Us


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City Journal

The American-led global order isn’t perfect, but it’s better than the alternatives.

Zaid Jilani

March 10, 2022

The Iraq War was the event that drew me into political consciousness as a teenager in high school. I remember sitting in my biology class as the teacher let us deviate from the day’s material to argue about the imminent U.S. invasion in the Middle East. I felt uneasy about the justifications given for the war, but I was badly outgunned: nearly everyone else felt that President George W. Bush’s case was airtight. I watched the ensuing chaos on the television screens and attended enormous antiwar marches, shouting my lungs off about the pointlessness of the conflict. I’ve probably never felt more politically powerless in my life.

In the years since, the war and its consequences cast a long shadow over my thinking. I was part of a generation of young people who had seen American foreign policy at its worst—an unnecessary war in Iraq and a mismanaged war in Afghanistan.


As I grew older, I found my thinking on these topics changing. I realized that looking only at a country’s sins was a poor way to evaluate its history. I needed to look at the big picture. What does the world look like absent the American-led order?


For all its flaws, America is still a democratic state and capable of changing for the better. Shifts in American public opinion helped turn Congress against South Africa’s apartheid regime, leading to the sanctions that helped bring it down. In Russia and in China, anti-government dissidents are harassed, jailed, or even killed.

Because of its wealth and power, America is one of the few countries that can stand up to the powerful autocrats who rule in Beijing and Moscow. Even many Muslim-majority democracies have refused to protest China’s brutal repression of the Muslim Uyghurs in the far-western Xinjiang province. Pakistan, where my parents emigrated from, has even publicly defended China’s conduct. It’s not hard to understand why: Pakistan has deep economic links with China, which probably also explains why it has stayed neutral in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. In one of his more candid moments, Pakistan’s leader Imran Khan admitted that he was shocked by the Saudi government’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but he added that Pakistan could not afford to snub Riyadh, given his country’s dire economic straits. “We’re desperate at the moment,” he said.

Pakistan can’t afford to stand up to these bullies—but America can. These days, I don’t find myself relating as much to the fiery anti-American rhetoric of the antiwar marches I attended back in 2003. I think instead about one of my best friends in college, a Bosnian refugee whose family found its way to the United States during the war. America not only welcomed thousands of refugees like him but also acted in concert with its European allies to stop ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.

DeBoer and those who think like him are wrong. America is not a source of evil and destruction. Yes, we make mistakes, and costly ones, but we also remain the world’s best chance for lasting peace and security. Much of the world prefers an American-led order for a reason. They’ve seen, and often lived, the alternatives.

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Here is the thing so many people Left and *Right apparently don't understand. Some nation IS going to be the dominate power in the world. I think it should be America. Because in spite of blunders both Strategic and Tactical America has done over the last 77 years as good a job of maintaining stability and spreading Liberal Western Democracy values around the world as any reasonably intelligent person could expect.  Today there are 3 nation wanting to replace America The PRC, Russia, Iran. Believe me a world dominated by any of these nations would be a very different world, than the one we live in...and not in a good way. 


* I emphasized The Right because it appears to me there are large numbers who think we should withdraw from our leadership position. ie The Only Time we should use our military is if we are directly attacked/invaded. There is a technical term for these people MORONS.

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