We take a lot for granted about the way the world looks today -- the widespread freedom, the unprecedented global prosperity (even despite the current economic crisis), and the absence of war among great powers.Continue reading.
In 1941 there were only a dozen democracies in the world. Today there are more than 100. For four centuries prior to 1950, global GDP rose by less than 1 percent a year. Since 1950 it has risen by an average of 4 percent a year, and billions of people have been lifted out of poverty.
The first half of the 20th century saw the two most destructive wars in the history of mankind, and in prior centuries war among great powers was almost constant. But for the past 60 years no great powers have gone to war.
This is the world America made when it assumed global leadership after World War II. Would this world order survive if America declined as a great power? Some American intellectuals insist that a "Post-American" world need not look very different from the American world and that all we need to do is "manage" American decline. But that is wishful thinking. If the balance of power shifts in the direction of other powers, the world order will inevitably change to suit their interests and preferences.
And ICYMI, see Kagan's "The Myth of American Decline," published in January at The New Republic.