George Soros has a plan. Or, at least, a dream.
If one wanted to sum up his latest book, “The Age of Fallibility,” in one sentence, it could well be this one from page 176: “The D-6, in turn, could cooperate more closely with the G-7 in promoting democracy, while meeting with the G-9 on economic issues.” Bingo!
Soros has identified the problem, and, he says, it’s us, the U.S. His solution: More international organizations to tie America down. That’s what he means by the D-6, G-7 and G-9. In his ideal world, these groups would meet frequently to plot strategies and tell Washington how to act. In short, Soros envisions a multi-polar world.
There’s only one problem with that. It wouldn’t work.
To understand why, it’s important to understand one simple fact: The United States today is the greatest force for peace and prosperity the world has ever know. Our unquestioned military superiority has actually led to a decrease in the number of wars worldwide.
Gregg Easterbrook noticed this last year in The New Republic magazine. “For about 15 years, there have been steadily fewer armed conflicts worldwide,” he wrote. “In fact, it is possible that a person’s chance of dying because of war has, in the last decade or more, become the lowest in human history.”
It’s noteworthy that the decline in warfare started when the Soviet Union collapsed, leaving the U.S. as the world’s sole superpower. While Soros and others think it’s a bad thing that the U.S. stands unchallenged, it’s actually a benefit. A uni-polar world is actually much safer than a multi-polar one.
Yet it’s rare, if not unique, in human history to find one nation that so completely eclipses its military rivals. The Roman Empire did for a time, but it dominated “only” Europe and the Mediterranean. The U.S. projects unprecedented power worldwide. No one wants to meet us on the battlefield because they know they’ll lose.
Contrast that with what happens when there are a number of nearly equal powers. That’s the world Clausewitz described in his classic book On War. “Today armies are so much alike in weapons, training and equipment, there is little difference in such matters between the best and the worst of them,” he wrote. Clausewitz was describing the Napoleonic era, which involved two decades of almost constant warfare.But his description remained fitting for the era of relative peace that followed. Throughout the 19th century and into the 20th, no country was able to gain dominance. Because they were all roughly equal, most of the great powers entered a series of alliances to protect themselves. But instead of delivering stability, these alliances led to the destructiveness of World War I.
That sort of conflict is unimaginable today, because even if the rest of the world combined to take on the United States, we could defeat them with the use of conventional weapons. Our power, seldom used but always feared, breeds international stability.
Soros doesn’t see it that way, of course. “It is ironic,” he writes, “but the invasion of Iraq has made it more difficult to deal with the likes of Saddam Hussein.” He adds, “there are many other tyrants in the world.” His list includes Kim Jong-il of North Korea, Tan Shwe of Myanmar, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Bashar Assad of Syria.
Well, in recent months, Kim’s North Korea has conducted missile tests, and there’s little doubt the country will continue to threaten civilians in Asia and beyond. For his part, Assad recently helped supply Hezbollah with rockets, which the terrorist group used to kill Israeli civilians. Saddam, meanwhile, is in a jail cell, enduring a second trial on mass murder charges. Eventually he’ll be convicted and executed. So who’s easier to deal with?
Soros wants to see more international involvement, but that simply doesn’t work. Just look at Iran, which the U.S. basically turned over to Britain, France and Germany a few years ago. Those countries thought they could contain Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but they couldn’t. The country’s uranium enrichment program grinds on, ignoring an “international community” (including the U.N. Security Council) that Iran knows is toothless.
Soros is correct about one thing. “The dominant position of the United States cannot be long maintained by a feel-good society that is unwilling to confront unpleasant realities,” he writes.
Indeed. We may well be forced to use our military more often to deal with the world’s unpleasant realities (although that’s not what Soros suggests). But when we do, we’ll actually be making the world a safer, more stable place.