This article by Kaplan in the NYT today is an interesting one. We are living through a period of rising new global powers, especially China, but also India, Turkey, and Brazil, among others. How the reigning hegemon, the U.S., reacts to these changes is a major challenge to U.S. leaders. Can we accommodate and reach a working understanding with the new players, or will we panic and try to spend all of them under the table? The latter was the Bush administration plan until 9/11 sent us scurrying off to Afghanistan and Iraq. It does seem that the rise of China poses many of the same challenges for the U.S. that the rise of Germany did for Great Britain at the beginning of this century. Let hope it all works out better than that relationship did.
Of course, one may ask if there is an alternative to all of this balancing of forces and such, and the answer is probably "no". However, as we pour lives and resources into Iraq and Afghanistan, can we afford an active role in all of this?