A haunting thought

Fareed Zakaria has a review of Tom Friedman's new book The World is Flat in the NY Times. Zakaria raises a good point, one that scares me enough that I try not to think about it. Namely, if countries across the world develop economically, eventually they're going to want some bombs, tanks, and guns. Will our economic interdependence keep us from World War III? That's the standard optimists argument, but Zakaria isn't so sanguine. Here's a quote:

"The largest political factor is, of course, the structure of global politics. The flat economic world has been created by an extremely unflat political world. The United States dominates the globe like no country since ancient Rome. It has been at the forefront, pushing for open markets, open trade and open politics. But the consequence of these policies will be to create a more nearly equal world, economically and politically. If China grows economically, at some point it will also gain political ambitions. If Brazil continues to surge, it will want to have a larger voice on the international stage. If India gains economic muscle, history suggests that it will also want the security of a stronger military. Friedman tells us that the economic relations between states will be a powerful deterrent to war, which is true if nations act sensibly. But as we have seen over the last three years, pride, honor and rage play a large part in global politics.

The ultimate challenge for America -- and for Americans -- is whether we are prepared for this flat world, economic and political. While hierarchies are being eroded and playing fields leveled as other countries and people rise in importance and ambition, are we conducting ourselves in a way that will succeed in this new atmosphere? Or will it turn out that, having globalized the world, the United States had forgotten to globalize itself?"

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