Valin Posted February 11, 2012 Share Posted February 11, 2012 WSJ: Foreign-policy pundits increasingly argue that democracy and free markets could thrive without U.S. predominance. If this sounds too good to be true, writes Robert Kagan, that's because it is. ROBERT KAGAN 2/11/12 History shows that world orders, including our own, are transient. They rise and fall, and the institutions they erect, the beliefs and "norms" that guide them, the economic systems they support—they rise and fall, too. The downfall of the Roman Empire brought an end not just to Roman rule but to Roman government and law and to an entire economic system stretching from Northern Europe to North Africa. Culture, the arts, even progress in science and technology, were set back for centuries. (Snip) Would the end of the present American-dominated order have less dire consequences? A surprising number of American intellectuals, politicians and policy makers greet the prospect with equanimity. There is a general sense that the end of the era of American pre-eminence, if and when it comes, need not mean the end of the present international order, with its widespread freedom, unprecedented global prosperity (even amid the current economic crisis) and absence of war among the great powers. (Snip) If and when American power declines, the institutions and norms that American power has supported will decline, too. Or more likely, if history is a guide, they may collapse altogether as we make a transition to another kind of world order, or to disorder. We may discover then that the U.S. was essential to keeping the present world order together and that the alternative to American power was not peace and harmony but chaos and catastrophe—which is what the world looked like right before the American order came into being. Mr. Kagan is a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. Adapted from "The World America Made," published by Alfred A. Knopf. Copyright © 2012 by Robert Kagan. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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