Stanley's blog

Return of history (2)

By remarkable coincidence, Kishore Mahbubani, with whom I have in the past exchanged views both in Singapore and by email, wrote in yesterday’s Financial Times, making the identical point that my post made: we are seeing played out in Georgia, “the return of history” – not its end and not the “triumph of western civilisation”.

The ‘triumphalism’ was and is, essentially, American, with we Europeans as ever sitting on our hands. Failure to resist entitles Kishore to assert that “the west” has intruded into the geopolitical spaces of other countries.

The current issue of Foreign Affairs, which I also received yesterday, contains an essay by Bob Kagan, (the writer with whom I most enjoy disagreeing!), the author of “The Return of History and the End of Dreams.”

Bob argues that the next US Administration should learn from Bush’s mistakes, but it cannot shrink from using
US power to build a liberal order founded on democratic principles. Kishore, I’m sure, also rejects this thinking. As he writes, “The gap between the western narrative and the rest of the world could not be greater.”

Bob Kagan provocatively concludes his essay, “In a fracturing world, the only worse thing than a self-absorbed hegemon is an incompetent self-absorbed hegemon.”

I’ll return to this subject shortly.

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