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New World temporarily postponed

4 March 2011

10:38 AM

4 March 2011

10:38 AM

We are meant to be living in a multi-polar world, one where US power is waning, and
where countries reject the prying interference of the West. Except, erm, we aren’t. Today’s world looks exactly as it did yesterday.

First, many of the 20th century issues people thought would disappear – dictators, repression and democracy – remain as prevalent now as then. The Iraq War has tempered people’s
appetite for humanitarian interventions without extinguishing it. The key difference seems to be that support is now minimal on the Left and still strong on the neo-con Right.


Everyone is also still focused on what the US will or will not do, even in Britain. When David Cameron took a courageous step and said he thought a no-fly zone should be considered, the newspapers
have been quick to argue that he was slapped-down by the US, as if that were the ultimate test of a serious policy.

The other constant is Middle Eastern callousness. Despite the suffering of their fellow Arabs, the region’s leaders still think that outside military intervention in Libya is worse than Colonel
Gaddafi’s repression.

Finally, China was meant to be flexing its muscles in the new world. And on the surface it looks like it is, having sent a warship to pick up stranded Chinese citizens in Libya. But, China actually
had to rely on Greece’s help to rescue its nationals and has realised what was known for years: that China, with thousands of citizens in the world’s fragile states, remains very vulnerable.

The much heralded new world will arrive. But it is not here yet.


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