Monday, August 20, 2007
This is a point that I tried to make here, but which Adam Gopnik makes remarkably well in his article about Nicolas Sarkozy in the New Yorker:
[America's] military weakness has been exposed in Iraq, its economic weakness by the rise of the euro, and its once great cultural magnetism has been diminished by post-9/11 paranoia and insularity. America has recovered from worse before, and may do so again. But it is also possible that the election of Nicolas Sarkozy may be seen not as the start of a new pro-American moment in Europe but as a marker of the beginning of the post-American era.
America's current diminished standing in the world has left a power vacuum in the global geopolitical equation. The longer it lasts, the more opportunistic leaders like Nicolas Sarkozy or Vladimir Putin are going to move in and claim space that used to be ours. That's not to say that France or Russia will become a global superpower capable of unilateral interventions. But they will enhance their global influence at the expense of our own.
The danger is that what used to be unimaginable -- a world without American leadership -- is little by little becoming a reality that people are discovering they can live with.