The arrogant empire

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Mar 17 07:20:31 MST 2003

(An extraordinary article since Newsweek is a pillar of mainstream 
opinion and since Fareed Zakaria is a typical inside-the-beltway pundit 
featured on Lehrer Newshour and Sunday morning TV talk shows.)

The Arrogant Empire

America’s unprecedented power scares the world, and the Bush 
administration has only made it worse. How we got here—and what we can 
do about it now

By Fareed Zakaria


American dominance is not simply military. The U.S. economy is as large 
as the next three--Japan, Germany and Britain--put together. With 5 
percent of the world’s population, this one country accounts for 43 
percent of the world’s economic production, 40 percent of its 
high-technology production and 50 percent of its research and 
development. If you look at the indicators of future growth, all are 
favorable for America. It is more dynamic economically, more youthful 
demographically and more flexible culturally than any other part of the 
world. It is conceivable that America’s lead, especially over an aging 
and sclerotic Europe, will actually increase over the next two decades.

Given this situation, perhaps what is most surprising is that the world 
has not ganged up on America already. Since the beginnings of the state 
system in the 16th century, international politics has seen one clear 
pattern—the formation of balances of power against the strong. Countries 
with immense military and economic might arouse fear and suspicion, and 
soon others coalesce against them. It happened to the Hapsburg Empire in 
the 17th century, France in the late 18th and early 19th century, 
Germany twice in the early 20th century, and the Soviet Union in the 
latter half of the 20th century. At this point, most Americans will 
surely protest: "But we’re different!" Americans--this writer 
included--think of themselves as a nation that has never sought to 
occupy others, and that through the years has been a progressive and 
liberating force. But historians tell us that all dominant powers 
thought they were special. Their very success confirmed for them that 
they were blessed. But as they became ever more powerful, the world saw 
them differently. The English satirist John Dryden described this 
phenomenon in a poem set during the Biblical King David’s reign. "When 
the chosen people grew too strong," he wrote, "The rightful cause at 
length became the wrong."



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