Fareed Zakaria, foreign policy, geography, geopolitics, global engagement, internationalism, Our So-Called Foreign Policy, Peter Zeihan, self-sufficiency, strategic independence, TheAccidental Superpower
It’s hard to know what’s more surprising – that Washington Post/CNN pundit Fareed Zakaria can write a column that’s not a monument to plagiarism, or that the subject of the column is a new book that seems to echo my writings on how the United States is amply capable of prospering without much economic or military engagement with the rest of the world.
I haven’t read the book yet (titled The Accidental Superpower), but the main theme sure sounds like the points I’ve been making: On his website, author Peter Zeihan writes that “geography will matter more than ever in a de-globalizing world, and America’s geography is simply sublime.” Especially intriguing are Zeihan’s related claims that the “hard rules of geography are eroding the American commitment to free trade” and that although the world is heading toward a new age of disorder, this deveiopment may be a “disaster-in-waiting” for most countries, “but not for the Americans.”
It’s kind of entertaining to see how a typical internationalist like Zakaria deals with all of this. He writes that Zeihan believes that America is logically returning to “its traditional, pre-1945 strategy, to prosper far from the ills of the world” but pooh poohs the idea that anything lasting – like geography – has much to do with this potential. Instead, he credits the supposedly genius policies U.S. leaders used to combat the financial crisis – and contends that Washington gridlock is putting all this out-performance at risk.
At the same time, Zakaria never explicitly responds to what he describes as Zeihan’s contention that “As the world gets messier…there are fewer compelling reasons for the United States to pay with blood and treasure to stabilize it.” Indeed, Zakaria seems most concerned with portraying The Accidental Superpower as a slightly different iteration of American triumphalism, rather than with seriously exploring the stunning policy implications of the distinctive strengths underlying it.
Again, I haven’t read Zeihan’s book, and I haven’t even been able to find an article-length version. But it looks like those of us who have been questioning the economic and geopolitical foundations of modern American internationalism could have an important new ally – and one who might force some of the bipartisan internationalist foreign policy establishment to take notice.