Sunday, April 20, 2008

On the Unipolar Moment...

I just listened to a fantastic podcast reading of a Richard Haass article in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs entitled "The Age of Nonpolarity: What Will Follow U.S. Dominance."

Highlights, or rather comments/observations I particularly found of interest:
  • Realist theory would predict an era of unipolarity would be followed by a multi-polar world. Haass makes a persuasive case we are headed towards an era of nonpolarity, or "a world dominated not by one or two or even several states but rather by dozens of actors possessing and exercising various kinds of power."
  • Potential competing global powers are too entrenched in the movement of technology, energy, goods, etc. to consider removing themselves from this structure -- their own political stability depends on access to this system.
  • Nonpolarity will increase the potential military/terrorist threats to the U.S. A global system with multiple powers (state and nonstate) is more difficult to defend against than a single enemy (Cold War).
  • Nonpolarity makes diplomacy significantly harder. Getting a broad base of stakeholders to agree on anything will be increasingly difficult.
Haass is totally on point to state free trade of goods and investment amongst countries must be expanded. My final thoughts:
  • The fact that we are leaving a unipolar world to an era where the U.S. has less power to shape the world in the image we see fit only gives greater impetimus on the importance of increasing the free trade of goods and investment.
  • As much as some regimes, such as China, are not exempliary actors for the world or their own people, it is essential that we enhance global free trade of goods and investment to ensure the current system continues to be stable. I would hate to find out what would happen if Communist Party of China (CPC) where to disintegrate, much less the governments of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and others.
  • I agree with Haass that our military budget probably should be increased, yet I would go further than Haass on the military expansion concept. The wars of the future are going to be different than the wars of the past. Iraq and Afghanistan clearly have shown that. Honestly -- and granted I have no military experience or expertise -- we should explore radically increasing the number of marines and eliminating the army completely. Are we really going to ever fight a broad based land war again? Probably not. Instead of the army we need to develop a core of nationbuilders (funny how Bush was disgusted with the thought of nationbuilding as a candidate in 2000 and it has since defined his Presidency). Details and role of engagement would have to be hamered out, yet the concept should be explored.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Like... You Know?

I was having dinner with my father about a month ago and I kept catching myself using the phrase "you know." I immediately commented that this was really a horrible expression. What a ridiculous way to ask for acceptance or comment from the intended audience. This got me thinking... how prevalent is this phrased used by the public, politicians and self described "talking heads" on political/public affairs programs.

Seriously, try it some time. I have been quit surprised at how widely used this phrase really is. After reading an article in the Daily News about a week ago that the public image of the Valley from the 1950's is gone -- whites are less than 50 percent of the population now -- can we officially kill the "like" metaphors and insert the phrase "you know" as a cultural faux paux?

Hey, just a thought.