Discrete Acts of the Same Play
Thinking about the US and China, I imagine a strange digital future when the young generation has grown old in the midst of a lifetime of an invisible war. I envision our children hurriedly learning Mandarin and watching China and its emerging market allies becoming greater by the day. I see the term “human rights” losing its face; as, to an extent, it has today. I see “development” and “economic stability” replacing the vacant space of human rights debates. I see huge commercial buildings built on the wounds and dead bodies of thousands and millions of those whose lives were neglected by governments, militaries, tribes and others. I see many remaining silent while watching life growing out of the skeletons of the forgotten voices of the past who died in some war, revolution, battle, natural disaster or simply for the sake of having spoken out against the injustice of some hegemon.
As I see it, while the world of the future might appear radically different, the basic reality of that world will not even remotely differ from the reality we face today. The only distinctive factor of this new play will be a new orchestrator whose very preferences, culture and ambitions will consequently shift of the rules of the game.
I used to sit through policy classes at the Kennedy School and listen carefully to professors, ambassadors and diplomats tell us about the difficult, yet possible, tango of US and China. However, after having watched the economy of the US literally decay in a matter of a few years, seeing the worried faces of many Americans, hearing the amenable words of American diplomats with respect to the rise of China and other emerging markets, reading about the failed circumstances in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, I have finally decided that there will be no tough tango to dance for the US for much longer. I have come to terms with the fact my dear second home, US, is indeed retiring from its supremacy.
American officials are simply scared of these new world developments and their way of coping with it is to, at least diplomatically, embrace the China that is rising and the rest of the emerging world that is gaining strength. The US is simply relying on the premise of interdependence of states and hopes to somehow save its supremacy in the lags forming in today’s global political and economic limbos. American officials are not the only ones who fear their gradual loss of supremacy. While many throughout the world are celebrating the decay of the glamour of the US, there remain a notable population of the world who do not see the world becoming a better place in the absence of the supremacy of the US.
At this point, only a few would defend the wrongdoings of the US in various parts of the world. The world is dancing with the fever of anti-American sentiments and awaiting the fall of the great empire. What the growing anti-American world seems to tragically forget is that, with a few exceptions, the US has proceeded in interventions and wars or has decidedly neglected the occurrence of mass violence and genocides with the support of other nations, governments, entities and prominent individuals throughout the world. What the dancing anti-Americans seem to forget is that for as long as this planet has been spinning around itself, there has been an unjust hegemon of sorts imposing its supremacy on the essentially ungovernable anarchy of the globe.
Thus, whether it is the Roman, Ottoman, Persian Empire, the US or China, the world will remain an unjust place in the hands of a few. Nevertheless, as existentialist of a claim as this may sound, we ought to work hard and speak out against injustice with anticipation for the day that world order could bring justice and peace to all. There cannot be any harm in dreaming and working for the sake of a collective dream—even if fictive— coming about in our world.
There is, however, harm in forgetting the perils of a rising power, such as today’s China, and simply glorifying its promising future against the current ostracized super power (US). Not too long ago when the US was on the rise, many neglected the possible threats of its supremacy for the world and excitedly lived through the booming days of the American fever. Now that, like any empire, the world has lost its fervor for the US, we are all busy trying to find another nation to carelessly glorify and praise. It would have been a dream come true if we could reflect on the beauties and perils of the old and rising empires rather than naively seeking a god in them to praise in the midst of their aspirations to reign.
If China rises to the top, its destiny will be strangely similar to that of the US. Then again, this seems to be the fate of all empires. We only like to deceive ourselves in thinking the world will be a dramatically better one in the absence of an old empire and with the rise of a new one. We simply enjoy discrete acts of the same play!