More than 16 years after 9/11, having faced only lightly armed enemies, still wealthy beyond compare, still with a matchlessly funded military, the United States has won literally nothing.
Are we in an era of a “new peace”? Think again.
The greatest power in history can’t build a single mile of high-speed rail? And its Congress is mired in an argument about whether funds can even be raised to keep its highways more or less pothole-free?
Russia refuses to curtail support for armed separatists in Ukraine; China refuses to abandon its base-building endeavors in the South China Sea; the Islamic State movement refuses to capitulate in the face of U.S. airpower. What is a declining superpower supposed to do in the face of such defiance?
After 13 years of doing its damnedest, the U.S. has overseen the rise of the dominant narco-state on the planet with monopoly control over up to 90 percent of the global opium supply and 75 percent of the heroin. It’s also been complicit in the creation of the first terrorist mini-oil state in history, a post-al-Qaeda triumph of extreme jihadism.
Ever fewer countries, allies, or enemies, are paying attention, much less kowtowing, to the once-formidable power of the world’s last superpower. The list of defiant figures -- from Egyptian generals to Saudi princes, Iraqi Shiite leaders to Israeli politicians -- is lengthening.
In an increasingly phantasmagorical world, here’s my present fantasy of choice.
To this day, we’ve never quite taken in the moment when Soviet imperial rot unexpectedly -- above all, to Washington -- became imperial crash-and-burn. Left standing, the United States -- the Cold War's victor -- seemed like an empire of everything under the sun. It was as if humanity had always been traveling toward this spot.
Here's the multi-trillion dollar question: Does the emergence of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa as economic powers signal that we have truly entered a new multipolar world?