Helena Cobban argues, "Bush's huge gamble in Iraq has failed. As a result, the U.S. is weaker everywhere in the world -- and that's not all bad." Sure. The thought is not new, though it hasn't been voiced often. Today, US is preoccupied with Iraq, and so Bush accumulates enemies daily while the imperialist machine is tied down behind its fortified Green Zones. And this is good for the world, because the world really ought to dislike America for its predatory politics and economics rather than imitating its resource-intensive consumerism.
The thing is, and this is contrary to what Cobban says, this doesn't stabilize the world. Cobban's hopes include:
The U.S. may lose the ability it has had for so long to block any resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute that does not conform to Israel's wishes. The U.S. and the other world powers may finally get serious about trying to stabilize Afghanistan (and other long-neglected parts of the world like Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Darfur), rather than leaving them to fester and thus incubate new al-Qaidas or other, as-yet-unseen networks of stakeless international troublemakers. And crucially, the gross power imbalance between the U.S.'s 300 million people and the 6 billion humans who are not U.S. citizens may finally shift toward a more egalitarian, and therefore more just and stable, position.Liberal Democrats, as I said yesterday, have no real theory of capitalism, and thus do not see how policy occurs against a background of capital accumulation. The Palestinians are today a marginalized charity of Muslim oil capitalists; the "long-neglected parts of the world" are for the most part not worth the investment for the exploiter-nations to care, and "gross power imbalance" is a product of capital accumulation. Cobban does not appear to see that.
No, the decline of US power due to its engrossment with Iraq will make the world less stable, as it will tie the global rule of the transnational capitalist class to the ideological renegades who make up the Project for a New American Century, which intends to destabilize the world so it can be remade by force in America's image. PNAC won't succeed, either; the process it has chosen, recolonizing the resource sinks of the world through military force, is too high-entropy, too destructive. The resulting deterioration in American hegemony will give US opponents a chance, which will balloon into even further conflict.