three wise men

i wonder what could have been? it seems like there's been a lot of that lately. and watching jon stewart's interview of zbigniew brzezinski doesn't help. brzezinski used to be the national security advisor to president jimmy carter. his new book, second chance: three presidents and the crisis of american superpower is about how the united states basically fumbled the momentum from a vitally turning point in world history: the end of the cold war.

brzezinski's point is that the united states, having unprecedented power, managed to squander that prestige and authority in a very short time over the span of three administrations. when given the chance to really make change, and to usher in a true american, western-style hegemony, they failed.

it's an interesting point he brings up. the larger question seems to be, does the united states have a responsibility to the rest of the world? one would like to think that yes, they do. and while people rag on all the terrible things the united states has done especially in the last eight years (and i'm not giving the administrations a pass on the bad things), you have to sort of put things into perspective. compared to the old british empire and the roman one before it... the united states has become as benign a superpower as you could possibly expect it to become. especially one that is the sole superpower. i guess what i'm saying is that the united states has done a lot of good in this world besides the bad, and it can be much worse but it isn't.

and in a world where a superpower can be shaken and even defeated by what amounts to nothing more than tribes, in asymmetrical guerrilla warfare/military conflicts, i'd say the stranglehold that the united states has on sole dominance in the world is a half-nelson at best.

still, one wonders what it could have been like. what this world would have been like if the unites states had succeeded in somalia, if they had reacted more appropriately after the yemen attack on the u.s.s. cole, if they had kept the pursuit of osama, if instead of iraq, they'd taken on saudi arabia (most of the 9/11 hijackers were from saudi arabia)? that's a lot of "ifs."

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