Under the surface of the 2017 summer sun, a surface of an
orderly calm punctuated by provocative headlines and a
nagging awareness of some undefined disorder, the
significant disruption of an aging world order is taking
I am one who doubts that world order is accidental or
casual. Incidents and personalities superficially might
seem random occurrences, but my reading of history
tells a different story.
The transatlantic world is now preoccupied with Donald
Trump and the agonies of European alliances while
simultaneously the transpacific world is notable for the
emergence of two new superpowers, China and India.
These two nations come from ancient and enduring
cultures that were then sublimated until relatively
recently by transatlantic powers. When a small but
ambitious Asian power, Japan, attempted to assert itself
almost eight decades ago, it set off half a world war. But
Japan, despite its presumptions, did not have the
resources to become a true superpower. Both China and
India, especially with their enormous populations, do
have requisite resources.
At the same time Japan made its historic power grab,
a malign and ambitious Germany made one of its own.
But, like Japan, the resources were not available to enable
a perverse Nazi ideology to impose more than a temporary,
albeit insanely murderous, domination of Europe.
The difference then was the nation in the middle of the
two oceans, the United States of America. Having dabbled
in colonial ambitions of its own, and found them
unsatisfactory, the U.S. reluctantly but forcefully entered
both theaters of the World War. It did have the resources
to make a difference and to restore a new world order. I
do not in any way want to diminish the contributions of
the valiant British, Russian (who took the greatest
military losses) and other Allied forces in that war, but it
was the U.S. intervention that made the difference.
In the Cold War that followed, it was the U.S. which
protected Europe and other parts of the globe from
ideological communist aggression, a role that eventually
led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
As the world’s first capitalist representative democracy, the
U.S. gradually grew into its role as the global economic
model and protector of the universal notion of human
freedom. It made mistakes along the way, and had to
systematically rid itself of its own unacceptable
shortcomings of slavery, gender discrimination, voter
inequality, and human rights violations.
At the peak of its global influence, it must be said, the U.S.
did not do what superpowers had almost always done in
the past, that is, dominate and impose itself. In fact, as U.S.
power began to diminish at the end of the 20th and the
beginning of the 21st centuries, it continued in its role of
rescue and protection in the face of natural and man-made
There is a heated debate going on these days about the the
notion that the United States is an “exceptional” nation.
Those who attack this notion misunderstand it, I believe, and
do so against the facts on the ground. But, like all other
aspects of history, the role of the U.S. is changing. The
basic economic U.S. model continues to be the only viable
operating model in the world. To verify this, one has only to
look at the recent adoptions of it by the two largest Marxist
(China) and socialist (India) economies. China remains
politically totalitarian, but its economy is now a market one.
Culturally, in music, films, and entertainment in general,
U.S. influence is remarkably global.
None of these facts on the ground, however, are static.
The world order increasingly dominated by the U.S. for about
a century is not what it was. The role of the U.S. remains as a
mediator and protector, but new powers in the world are
emerging. Those which are predatory will be resisted, and it
is unimaginable that this can successfully occur without the
United States of America.
Predatory forces are always at play in the world, but not ever
in human history have the tools for infamy been so available
to so many. If one see the human family as a global organism,
beneath the surface of daily life there are always forces at work
to keep a viable equilibrium, as there are forces in the human
body which protect from and fight disease and infection.
We still do not fully understand how the individual human body
works. Human civilization, now about 7.5 billion of us, not so
long ago a collection of relatively disconnected outposts, has
entered a stage of almost instant connection and awareness
through technology. There is no way this indelible circumstance
is not altering what we describe as “the order of the world.”
Under the summer sun this year, that fundamental circumstance
is reordering itself as it always does --- out of sight and under
the surface of our daily lives.
That is the real breaking news.
Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.