Friday, April 22, 2005


Sculpture "Made in China"by Sui Jianguo,
currently on display at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum

Relegation is a wonderful concept used by sports leagues in much of the world to keep league play interesting. For example, in English football (soccer in the USA), each year the bottom three teams are relegated to a lower division, while the top teams of the lower division are promoted to the top league. The terror of being dropped down a step gives bottom ranking teams something play for at the end of the season.

Now of course I wouldn't like the results at the moment if the NFL had such a system. My 49ers would be consigned to the WAC and out local team would be USC, or, best case, Cal.

But that is not what this is about. This is about a very thought provoking article by Gwynne Dyer, an independent Canadian journalist. His thesis is that the US's seemingly incompetent, flailing and aggressive neoconservative foreign policy gurus are exhibiting the normal behavior of leaders of a great power facing relegation.

And they all know that the days of the United States as the world's sole superpower are numbered.

They must know it. They cannot be unaware of the statistics the rest of us know: a Chinese economy that has been growing over twice as fast as the US economy for almost two decades now, and an Indian economy that has been growing at around twice the US rate for almost a decade already. And they surely understand the magic of compound interest. . . .

Seeing the United States reduced to only one great power among others cannot be a prospect that appeals to American strategic thinkers of a traditional bent-so what is their grand strategy for averting it?

. . . Paramount powers facing relegation always have one, although it rarely stays the same for long and it never, ever works. . . .

People who search for a long-term strategy in neo-conservative policies invariably end up thinking there is none, but that's because they are looking for coherence. They expect too much. When strategists are confronted with an insoluble problem, they generally try to solve it anyway, and they are not above using irrational assumptions to stick the bits of rational analysis together.

Read Dyer's short article for more. It is certainly worth thinking about.

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