I liked that he called the U.S. an 800-lb geurrilla that needs to be careful and not overreact to perceived threats, by say, starting an unnecessary war in Iraq.
But I thought the inclusion of Evo Morales’ Bolivia in with Chavez’ Venezuela was a little glib. It’s easy to draw parallels and the two leftist leaders are certainly friends, but I haven’t seen any evidence of Bolivia being anti-American or of the same degree of centralizing power as in Venezuela. Maybe I’m just not following my South American politics closely enough. It’s certainly possible.
It’ll be interesting to see how all these elected “anti-American populists” react to a new U.S. administration in 2 years.
Kate, I think Fukuyama’s optimistic note was more along the lines of this: “The single most notable but overlooked fact about today’s world is that the global economy has been driving ahead full speed, raising living standards and closing the gap between the First and Third worlds. The economies of the world’s two most populous countries, India and China, have been growing in recent years at nearly 9% and 10%, respectively. A decade after the 1997-98 financial crisis, East Asia as a whole has returned to its torrid pace of development.” and this: “For all of its stumbles in the last few years, the United States remains a rich and powerful country, with plenty of margin to absorb setbacks and make up for mistakes. The large part of the world that is modernizing successfully is dependent on us for continued progress, and perhaps for that reason is far less anti-American than those regions mired in conflict and stagnation.” But I am sure you knew that.
Dan, you raise an interesting point about what changes we can expect with a (God willing) change of party and administration in 2009. I recently met Andrei Markovits, a scholar at the University of Michigan and the author of the recently released “Uncouth Nation: Why Europe Dislikes America.” (an adapted version of his central argument is available here: http://chronicle.com/temp/reprint.php?id=5cm8m89n8bpb099csz9qn8p6z7nzj8xp). though Markovits focuses on Western Europe I think he makes a point that can – with caveats – be extended to Latin America as well. Markovits argues that the disastrous policies and competence of the Bush administration has certainly exacerbated anti-Americanism around the world, but that we should not fool ourselves into thinking these problems were born when he was sworn into office. They are long-simmering and structural as well as cultural. In other words, anti-Amercanism has a long tradition and it has and will flourish apart from Bush’s follies.
That said, a change in 2009 can only be very helpful (It will largely be a change in style, semantics, and tone – not substance. Do not underestimate the durability – despite the debate here in this country – of the American consensus).
Fukuyama’s analysis seems pretty reasonable to me. But I think he’s being a little flip about oil. There is currently no credible energy alternative to petroleum and the ravenous desire for energy from developing economies continues to grow. What with its own dependence on oil being so great, the United States has little leverage against emboldened producers such as Iran and Venezuela. They literally have America over a barrel. That strikes me as a serious geostrategic vulnerability.
Second, the fact that much of the developing world is experiencing sustained economic growth does not necessarily mean that political stability is on the rise. Quite the opposite. Many already unstable countries like Nigeria are becoming increasingly violent and chaotic thanks to rapid economic growth from the selling of natural resources (there’s that oil again) that has fueled massive official corruption but little improvement in the lifes of the citizenry. These trends have the potential to make the world more dangerous. Although one hopes that these troubled societies will eventually work out more equitable and progressive arrangments so as to truly benefit from economic growth. That, however, like Fukuyama requires a great deal of optimism.