End of the White Man's Burden

Politically and economically exhausted, Europe and America are no longer very capable of imposing their values and interests through costly military interventions in faraway lands.

What's the Latest Development?


Culminating in the current indecisive military action in Libya, Europe and the United States no longer seem disposed to commit serious resources to foreign conflicts. The causes are two fold: Economic insecurity at home has made the electorate highly critical of spending overseas while a decade of occupying Iraq and Afghanistan has yielded few tangible benefits. "These are trying economic times for the U.S., largely owing to imperial overstretch financed by Chinese credit. Admiral Mike Mullen, the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently defined America’s colossal fiscal deficits as the biggest threat to its national security."

What's the Big Idea?

Is the era of Western intervention over? While America and Europe will seek to maintain its security interests abroad, it will do so ever more carefully, ever more conscious of the bottom line. "The bad news is that Europe’s feebleness and America’s fatigue might also signal the limits of noble ideas such as the obligation to interfere in order to protect populations being brutalized by their own rulers. America’s reluctance to be drawn into the Libyan quagmire, and the West’s failure to intervene in order to stop the Syrian army from massacring civilians, now looks like a sad, and fairly accurate, guide to the future."

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