Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hitching Canada's wagon to a falling star

Philip S. Golub is a journalist and lecturer at the University of Paris VIII.

He likens the U.S. to a setting sun...

"The disastrous outcome of the invasion and occupation of Iraq has caused a crisis in the power elite of the United States deeper than that resulting from defeat in Vietnam 30 years ago. Ironically, it is the very coalition of ultranationalists and neo-conservatives that coalesced in the 1970s, seeking to reverse the Vietnam syndrome, restore U.S. power and revive "the will to victory" that has caused the present crisis."
...[N]or can the cause of their dissent be attributed to conflicting convictions over ethics, norms and values (though this may be a motivating factor for some). It lies rather in the rational realization that the war in Iraq has nearly "broken the U.S. Army," weakened the national security state, and severely, if not irreparably, undermined "America's global legitimacy" – its ability to shape world preferences and set the global agenda. The most sophisticated expressions of dissent, such as Brzezinski's, reflect the understanding that power is not reducible to the ability to coerce, and that, once lost, hegemonic legitimacy is hard to restore.
...[T]ransnational opinion surveys show a consistent and nearly global pattern of defiance of U.S. foreign policy as well as a more fundamental erosion in the attractiveness of the United States: The narrative of the American dream has been submerged by images of a military leviathan disregarding world opinion and breaking the rules. World public opinion may not stop wars but it does count in subtler ways.
...[H]istory is moving on and the world is slipping, slowly but inexorably, out of U.S. hands.
...[B]ut Vietnam and the Nixon era were a turning point in another more paradoxical way: Domestically they ushered in the conservative revolution and the concerted effort of the mid-1980s to restore and renew the national security state and U.S. world power. When the Soviet Union collapsed a few years later, misguided visions of omnipotence resurfaced. Conservative triumphalists dreamed of primacy and sought to lock in long-term unipolarity. Iraq was a strategic experiment designed to begin the Second American Century. That experiment and U.S. foreign policy now lie in ruins.

...[F]or the U.S. power elite, being on top of the world has been a habit for 60 years. Hegemony has been a way of life; empire, a state of being and of mind. The institutional realist critics of the Bush administration have no alternative conceptual framework for international relations, based on something other than force, the balance of power or strategic predominance.

...[T]he present crisis and the deepening impact of global concerns will perhaps generate new impulses for co-operation and interdependence in future. Yet it is just as likely that U.S. policy will be unpredictable: As all post-colonial experiences show, de-imperialization is likely to be a long and possibly traumatic process.

So, why is Canada looking to the U.S. for its safety and prosperity and not elsewhere...perhaps even to itself?

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