It’s very clear the United States under the Bush Administration has lost influence around the world. Parag Khanna, a fellow at the New America Foundation, argues that this is unlikely to be corrected by the next president. Writing in this article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine on January 27, 2008, Khanna makes a pretty convincing case that the post-Cold War uni-polar world dominated by the United States has come to an end. He argues we are now living in a tri-polar world order with America, Europe and China competing for influence, markets and resources.
The article is apparently derived from a forth-coming book titled The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order.
While the three dominant powers — dare we call them a troika? — are attempting to diversify both their supplies of resources and their markets, sophisticated "second world" countries like Brazil, Vietnam, and Turkey, play them off against each other to diversify their own markets and security.
In Khanna’s view, the United States is the least sophisticated of the Big Three. Its military and prestige have been weakened by the Iraq War, it’s currency is in decline, and it has a poor understanding of the "long game" now in progress. Worse yet, not a single one of the presidential candidates appears to have any grasp of the strategic challenges they will face should they win office.
I’m not quite as pessimistic as Khanna. For one thing, I think he understates the role that could be played by American technological innovation in the coming years, especially in the area of alternative energy sources. Progress in these areas could undercut the bargaining power of many of today most influential and least savory second world powers.
Nonetheless, this is a very compelling article, well worth reading.