What is Happening to the World?

(Anyone who's ever bothered reading this blog will have, I'm sure, wondered where the cynical 9/11 post went. Well, here it is...sort of.)

What is happening to the world?

Today's generation just on the brink of entering the workforce is frequently accused of having no sense of focus, no strength that can be likened to the Greatest Generation's or even that of the Baby Boomers, though it's their problems we inherit. College students in particular are blamed of wasting time, enjoying themselves excessively...but hello? Twenty years ago, you might have become a great scientist without a graduate degree. Today, it's impossible to get anywhere without at least a Master's, and that means at least four more extra years of school than the majority of previous generation's youth.

Why is this happening?

I think the answer, though complicated, is pretty straightforward. In the early 20th century, power was divided between various European states and their alliances. By the end of World War II, two major centers of power had coalesced--the United States and the U.S.S.R., the First World and the Second World.

But with the final demise of the U.S.S.R. and its alliances (it's obvious today--have you ever heard of a Second World in recent years?) came a problem: power was now concentrated in the hands, and the missiles, of one country--America, a country that had already begun to interfere in world affairs, doing everything to stop the spread of communism, allying itself with unpopular shahs in Iran and future dictators like Hussein and ignoring genocides in places like Cambodia (Khmer Rouge, anyone? They were on the UN Security Council during the genocide).

September 11 made this particularly clear. The greatest (and one of the very, very few) foreign-based attack on American soil could not be targeted to a specific organization or a specific country, hence Bush's declaration of war on the rather nebulous "terror". A 'pre-emptive strike', the likes of which were totally unheard of until 2001, was launched on Afghanistan and then Iraq, overriding the UN (remember Hans Blix?). This attack attempted to put a face, or at least a name, on terrorism: Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein (and the Taliban to a lesser extent) are immortalized as the perpetrators of this attack--yet Hussein, shamed through violations of the Geneva Convention, languishes in a world prison, bin Laden is nowhere to be found, and terrorism continues in the Middle East.

Out of this mess, a new world order is slowly coagulating. The real center of it is not the Middle East, nor is it America--it is the far East, in particular countries like China, India, and Japan (though the four Mini-Dragons of Asia deserve consideration), and it is not based upon military might and colonial presence as it was in the past, it is based upon the ability to utilize manpower to build a strong economy.

America is already heavily dependent on China for its cheap goods--were the government to attempt to cut ties and halt the sending of weapons to China, a hundred million angry Americans would complain about the sudden rise in prices and the sudden disappearance of goods from the market. Europe is declining, its new population mainly supplied by immigrants. Africa--Africa has a thousand problems to clear, the number one being its inability to utilize its resources due to inefficient governments that are vestiges of the UN's original mission--and which have nothing to do with the map of the actual people living there.

>So in the end, we have to pay attention to Asia. Even if its people leave for the Western world and Western culture is absorbed, they're finally learning how to syncretize their traditions with the technological innovations of today. And even if we're able to interfere with other countries through military might and the utilization of intelligence departments, particularly the Israeli one, we'll never be able to do anything to Asia.

The U.S.--and the rest of the Western world--need Asia far too much to ignore the economy's gradual shift. It's time that leaders recognize the declining value of brute strength in a world where trade stands first. No longer are we in a mercantilist society.

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