Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Graceful Decline

By Douglas Kohn

Otto von Bismarck once said that the most potent factor in 20th Century geopolitics will be that Britain and America speak the same language. So was predicted the greatest and most effective alliance in world history, between the United States of America and the British Empire, that brought Nazi Germany to its knees and faced down the Soviet Union and global communism.

America is now faced with the prospect that, while she is the preeminent power in the world, it is no longer quite as preeminent as it once was. America will continue its relative decline for the foreseeable future, though there will not be a major power that is able to take over as the world’s sole superpower in the same way America is. However, a cold hard look at America’s position in the world must be taken into account so that she can leave the world a safer place, especially when she must preserve her interests overseas.

In the spirit of Bismarck, it seems to this writer that there is a corollary. This writer believes that the most potent factor in 21st Century geopolitics will be that America and India were once colonies of Great Britain. Some scoff at this suggestion and say that India is too culturally different and bogged down by the age old caste system.

I make the argument that India has retained many customs that Great Britain tried to spread there. The first is the rule of law and democracy. India is the only country in the world that has been able to maintain a completely democratic government in the face of soul crushing poverty. It is now rapidly industrializing and in many ways is becoming more Americanized and Anglicized than it was even under the British Raj.

This is particularly important given the strategic position of India being between,-let’s face facts- Jihadistan (pretty much everything from Morocco to Pakistan) and “Communist” China. This is America’s opportunity to decline in secure manner as Great Britain did at the loss of its empire. Britain, realizing its position in the world was in decline, aligned itself with the rising power of the age, the United States of America. Let it be clear, neither India nor China will overtake the United States in overall geopolitical strength for most, if not all, of this century.

Even if China’s overall economy becomes larger than America’s, which all indicators say it will, The People’s Republic will still not be able to project its power in the same manner as America has because it will be consumed with internal problems that it must resolve first. However, having America forge a formal alliance with India, one of the few countries with which we have excellent relations right now, is pivotal for her to be able to protect its interests in a future where she does not completely dominate the global system.

America should not reserve her alliances and affections to only those countries which are democratic. But India makes sense because it has become a nation much friendlier to America than during the Cold War and in poll after poll, its population regards America as a great and respectable power in spite of her fraught reputation in much of the world. In this new world America is also forging stronger relations with Vietnam, a former foe whose interests are now much aligned with America’s. An alliance between India and America has the potential to do much good in the world and preserve some of America’s standing overseas.

No comments: