Friday, February 23, 2007

A World Without America, Take Two

A different view of a world without America could be found in Davos.

Two things were missing from this year's world Economic Forum at Davos: snow (which arrived eventually) and America-bashing (which did not)....[F]or the first time in my memory, America was somewhat peripheral. There were few demands, pleas, complaints or tantrums directed at the United States. In this small but significant global cocoon, people—for the moment at least—seemed to be moving beyond America.

Part of the reason is that people are moving beyond George W. Bush. Europeans and Middle Easterners in particular used to rail against Bush. Now they think that their views about him and his policies—whether on Iraq, global warming or unilateralism—have all been vindicated, so why keep ranting? Besides, he's a lame-duck president, his weakness on full display in last week's plaintive State of the Union address.

But there may be a larger phenomenon at work here. This year's conference theme was titled "Shaping the Global Agenda: The Shifting Power Equation." The emphasis, and some of the talk at the conference, focused on that shift in power, with speakers foretelling the rise of Asia (and implicitly, the decline of America and Europe)....

[W]e getting a glimpse of what a world without America would look like. It will be free of American domination, but perhaps also free of leadership—a world in which problems fester and the buck is endlessly passed, until problems explode.


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