US hegemony, China’s peaceful rise and Russia’s revisionism

American power, Still No.1

Jun 28th 2007
From The Economist print edition

The surveys that show America’s soft power to be less respected than it used to be also show the continuing universal appeal of its values—especially freedom and openness. Even the immigrants and foreign goods that so worry some Americans are tributes to that appeal (by contrast, the last empire to build a wall on its border, the Soviet one, was trying to keep its subjects in).(…)

Merely by growing, China is disrupting the politics of the Pacific. But that does not mean that it is automatically on track to overtake America. Its politics are fragile (see article) and America’s lead is immense. Moreover, economics is not a zero-sum game: so far, a bigger China has helped to enrich America. An America that stays open to China—an America that sticks to American values—is much more likely to help fashion the China it wants.

If America were a stock, it would be a “buy”: an undervalued market leader, in need of new management. But that points to its last great strength. More than any rival, America corrects itself. (…) Next year’s presidential election offers a chance for renewal. Such corrections are not automatic: something (a misadventure in Iran?) may yet compound the misery of Iraq in the same way Watergate followed Vietnam. But America recovered from the 1970s. It will bounce back stronger again. (…)

India, though growing fast, seems more interested in a strategic partnership with America rather than rivalry. China is the country that most worries the Pentagon

China and Russia in the New World Disorder, Dominique Moisi, Project Syndicate

By contrast, the Russians remain insecure about their status in the world. Russia’s explosive “revisionist” behavior on the eve of the recent G8 summit is an indication of the Kremlin’s “unsatisfied” nature. Because they know they are less potent, particularly in demographic and economic terms, Russians feel they have to do “more.”(…) Russia has reasserted its status as a “superpower,” a claim that is not necessarily supported by reality. Unlike the Chinese, the Russians do not create economic wealth, but merely exploit their energy and mineral resources.(…)

Of course, in their respective judgments on Russia and China, the West – and Europeans in particular – may be demonstrating selective emotions. “We” tend to be less demanding of China than of Russia, because we tend to see Russia as “European” (at least culturally). As a result, the culture of physical violence and verbal provocation that is gaining ground in Putin’s Russia is deeply disturbing, whereas we tend to judge Chinese misdeeds with a greater sense of distance, if not indifference.

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