November 30, 2008

Fukuyama: Is America Ready for a Post-American World?

For a guy who declared the 'end of history' nearly 20 years ago, political scientist Francis Fukuyama has a lot to say about the rapidly changing geopolitical landscape. In a recent NPQ article, Fukuyama describes the decline in U.S. hegemonic power and the rise of the 'weak-state world.' He writes,
This weak-state world has a lot of implications for American power. We need to consider this very perplexing fact: The US spends as much on its military as virtually the entire rest of the world combined. And yet it is now five years and counting since the US invaded and occupied Iraq, and to this day we have not succeeded in pacifying it fully. That is because of the changing nature of power itself. We are trying to use an instrument—hard military power—that we used in the 20th century world of Great Powers and centralized states in a weak-state world. You cannot use hard power to create legitimate institutions, to build nations, to consolidate politics and all of the other things that are necessary for political stability in this part of the world.
Fukuyama comes up with three prescriptions to deal with declining U.S. influence: 1) address the diminishing capacity of the U.S. public sector, 2) overcome the complacency on the part of Americans about understanding the world from a perspective other than that of the U.S., and 3) rejig the polarized political system that is "incapable of even discussing solutions to these problems."

Fukuyama writes,
After Sputnik in the late 1950s, the US responded to the Soviet challenge by making massive investments in basic science and technology. This proved to be a very successful set of investments that reaffirmed American technological leadership. After 9/11, we could have reacted in a similar way, by making large investments in our ability to understand complex parts of the world that we did not understand very well, like the Middle East. It is a scandal that in this monstrous new embassy we’ve created in Baghdad, we only have a handful of fluent Arabic speakers.
So interesting to watch Fukuyama remove himself further and further away from the hawkish neoconservative bulwark he helped to construct under the Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush presidencies.

Now if he'd only retract his rather over-stated claim that transhumanism is the world's most dangerous idea...


Michael Anissimov said...

Are you kidding? Being called "the world's most dangerous idea" is a marketer's dream.

George said...

Heh, the H+ community has certainly capitalized on it.

Mac said...

If transhumanism is indeed the world's most dangerous idea then we're in pretty good shape.

Nebris said...

I'd say Mr. Anissimov nailed it.

Anonymous said...

Fukuyama has been and always will be a fool. His work is at best poorly conceived at worst just garbage.

The US will remain despite all the hype a super power for many more years.

If the governments around the world would just leave the economy alone we will move more quickly to a recovery.

There is NO evidence to suggest government intervention will aid our economy.