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The end of hyperpower

November 29th, 2004

Something that’s really striking about the Ukraine crisis is the quiescence of the supposed global hyperpower. Powell took a firm line a few days ago, but he’s a lame duck who can’t be presumed to speak for the Administration. As was pointed out at (pro-war Left site) Harry’s Place, Bush’s own statement on the issue was anything but a ringing affirmation of democracy, perhaps because of Yanukovych’s membership of the Coalition of the Willing. In any case, the US has been happy to leave the running of the issue to the EU.

That’s not surprising, perhaps, given that Ukraine is a long way from Washington and right next to the EU, but how about the current situation in Iran? The US has 140 000 troops right next door to a potential nuclear power, and the threat is being dealt with (or perhaps not dealt with) by negotations with the EU.

The obvious point is that the resources of all kinds (military, diplomatic, financial and in terms of moral standing) expended on the Iraq crusade have weakened the US government to the point where it has nothing with which to impose its will on Iran. The US government can’t credibly threaten an invasion because it doesn’t have the troops, it can’t run a long bombing campaign in case the Iranians foment a Shia insurgency in Iraq, it can’t negotiate because it has already painted itself into a corner with the “Axis of Evil” line, it can’t rally the world to its cause because of its belligerent unilateralism in the past, it can’t buy the Iranians off because it’s broke, and it can’t use its intelligence resource to catch out the Iranians in any lies they are telling because US intelligence has been fatally discredited. Bush can still blow up the world, but then, so can Putin.

The era of hyperpower has been short indeed.

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  1. Nabakov
    December 4th, 2004 at 22:53 | #1

    Yeah, wot harry said. So there!

    I’d also add Islamic terrorism is just the thin edge of the new world disorder, an entirely new manifestion that US hard power is already struggling with. And if they continue to fight ideology with bombs, it’s only gonna get worse.

    And do you have yer own blog harry? And if so, where?
    If not,

  2. harry
    December 5th, 2004 at 21:16 | #2

    Thanks Nabakov,
    No I don’t have a blog. Quiggin and Troppo give me more than enough to think about as it is.

  3. December 10th, 2004 at 05:53 | #3

    I think so.

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