segunda-feira, julho 26, 2004

Kennedy vs. Gaddis (parte 2)

Aqui vai a segunda parte do dialogo entre Paul Kennedy e John Lewis Gaddis.

Does the United States Have an Empire?

GADDIS. Of course. We've always had an empire. The thinking of the founding fathers was we were going to be an empire. Empire is as American as apple pie in that sense. The question is, what kind of an empire do we have? A liberal empire? A responsible empire? I have no problem whatever with the proposition that the United States has an empire.

KENNEDY. I have quite a bit of a problem; I don't like that one bit. The fact is that most of the rest of the world thinks we are imperial, not to mention imperious. And then you have to ask, what are the consequences of that?

GADDIS. The really important question is to look at the uses to which imperial power is put. And in this regard, it seems to me on balance American imperial power in the 20th century has been a remarkable force for good, for democracy, for prosperity. What is striking is that great opposition has not arisen to the American empire. Most empires in history have given rise to their own resistance through their imperious behavior. For most of its history as an empire, the United States did manage to be imperial without being imperious. The great concern I have with the current administration is that it has slid over into imperious behavior.

KENNEDY. John has put his finger on something very interesting, which is this dominant position of the U.S. not yet causing the emergence of counterweights. And I say ''yet'' because I think there's quite a considerable danger that it will. We now have a Europe with a larger G.D.P., and we have a China growing so fast you can hardly keep your eyes on it. Our great power status is unchallenged at the orthodox military level. But it's beginning to look a little bit more fragmented in other dimensions.

GADDIS. Paul has been worrying about American decline ever since he published a famous book something like a decade and a half ago predicting this.

KENNEDY. I'm still worrying.

GADDIS. What is really striking, if one looks at the half-century of American global pre-eminence going back to World War II, is the extent to which we did stick with it over the long haul. It is quite a respectable record.

KENNEDY. Yes. But my argument always has been concern about the overstretches -- and that's measured not just by the number of troops and air bases; it's about economic sustainability, fiscal and trade imbalances. Keeping the balance there is about the single most important thing an American administration should do, and trying to see where international organizations work and where we can't make them work. This sense of what works and what doesn't has been lacking, and we need to get back to it. I am angry at what the government has done in the past two years. I think they've made a lot of mistakes. And we pay a considerable price for that.

GADDIS. I'm angry about something as well. I'm angry that the current administration thought creatively about the situation it confronted on Sept. 11 and responded with a serious reconsideration of American strategy, but then they screwed it up in Iraq. They violated a really fundamental principle. It's the dog-and-car syndrome. Dogs spend a lot of time thinking about and chasing cars. But they don't know what to do with a car when they actually catch one. It seems to me this, in a nutshell, is what has happened to the Bush administration in Iraq.

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