Empire

"The Arrogant Empire" -- Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek, 3/24/03:

[T]he United States will spend as much next year on defense as the rest of the world put together (yes, all 191 countries). And it will do so devoting 4 percent of its GDP, a low level by postwar standards.

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."

Written By: .