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Tom Engelhardt 205

October 11, 2016

Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, Unipolar No More


Last week in Afghanistan, the Taliban, once almost lacking a presence in the northern part of the country, attacked Kunduz, a northern provincial capital and held parts of it for days (as they had in 2015). At the moment, that movement also has two southern capitals under siege, Tarin Kot in Helmand Province and Lashkar Gah in Uruzgan Province, and now seems to control more territory and population than at any time since the U.S. invasion of 2001-2002.  Mind you, from an American perspective, we’re talking about the war that time forgot. Amid the hurricane of words in Election 2016, neither presidential candidate nor their vice presidential surrogates has thought it worth the bother to pay any real attention to the Afghan War, though it is the longest in our history. It’s as if, 15 years later, it isn’t even happening, as if American troops hadn’t once again been ordered into combat situations and the U.S. Air Force wasn’t once again flying increased missions there.

Of course, it wasn’t supposed to be this way, not for the planet's “sole superpower,” its “hyperpower,” its last remaining “sheriff” bestriding the globe with military bases in close to 80 countries, its Special Operations forces in almost 150 nations annually, and its Navy’s 10 aircraft carrier battle groups patrolling the seas.  On paper, it’s been a hell of a new century for the United States.  Only reality, it seems, has begged to differ.

As TomDispatch regular Dilip Hiro points out today, if you've noticed the growing assertiveness of China and Russia (and perhaps, one of these days, India will become more assertive, too), you'll know that we're on an increasingly multipolar planet. In reality, I suspect it’s always been a significantly more multipolar place than anyone in Washington cared to imagine. In a sense, our world is not only becoming more multipolar but also more helter-skelter, a place filled with low-level insurgencies and terror outfits that simply can’t be crushed, amid failing and collapsing states and vast refugee flows, on a globe that is ever more subject to the overheated, rampaging pressures of nature.  It’s not exactly the picture of a tidy imperial planet nor one that Washington had ever imagined possible. Tom
American Power at the Crossroads 
A Snapshot of a Multipolar World in Action
By Dilip Hiro

In the strangest election year in recent American history -- one in which the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson couldn’t even conjure up the name of a foreign leader he “admired” while Donald Trump remained intent on building his “fat, beautiful wall” and “taking” Iraq oil -- the world may be out of focus for many Americans right now.  So a little introduction to the planet we actually inhabit is in order.  Welcome to a multipolar world.  One fact stands out: Earth is no longer the property of the globe’s “sole superpower.”
If you want proof, you can start by checking out Moscow’s recent role in reshaping the civil war in Syria and frustrating Washington’s agenda to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.  And that’s just one of a number of developments that highlight America’s diminishing power globally in both the military and the diplomatic arenas.  On a peaceable note, consider the way China has successfully launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a rival to the World Bank, not to speak of its implementation of a plan to link numerous countries in Asia and Europe to China in a vast multinational transportation and pipeline network it grandly calls the One Belt and One Road system, or the New Silk Road project.  In such developments, one can see ways in which the previously overwhelming economic power of the U.S. is gradually being challenged and curtailed internationally.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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