The American Way of Victory

The American Way of Victory

Mini Teaser: The twentieth century witnessed, and its course was largely defined by, a trilogy of American wartime victories. But in the aftermath of the first two, the peace was lost. After the Cold War, will it happen again?

by Author(s): James Kurth

This splendid achievement of the United States could be undermined, however, by its own actions. The victory disorders of compulsion and dissipation could eventually overcome even the powerful U.S. advantages of overseas position and economic performance, and drive some major powers--most obviously China and Russia--into the balancing effect and even into a sort of containment policy directed at the United States. This was the prospect put forward by Samuel Huntington in his famous argument about the "clash of civilizations." Huntington was concerned that American excesses could bring about a Sino-Islamic alliance or even "the West versus the Rest." These prospects would become even more likely if the prosperous and open international economy should turn into a poor and closed one--if the "New Economy" of the 1990s, based upon the computer and the Internet, should suddenly collapse, as the "New Era" economy of the 1920s, based upon the automobile and the radio, had done.

Whatever form a balancing effect or containment coalition might take, however, at its core would be China. It would be the new Central Power on the Eurasian land mass, just as it was once the Middle Kingdom. The arrival of this coalition on the international scene would mean that the U.S. victory after the first cold war would have been followed by a second cold war (or worse), and this in turn would mean another war on a global scale. This alone makes living with China the single most important challenge facing a United States that is still living with victory, and which is still expecting to do so for decades to come.

Essay Types: Essay