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Polls show that the public is keenly aware of the stake it has in global stability and prosperity, and that so-called isolationism is just not an option.The other prevalent myth, by contrast, teaches that the deepest wellspring of U. foreign policy was not isolationism, but militant idealism as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, the Monroe Doctrine, and the Open Door policy.That approach would have put me on safe ground, but I rejected it because to talk history would just give you all an excuse not to read my latest book.Alternatively, I could have chosen to look ahead and prophesy regarding the dire global trends that may shape world politics in the future.
Francis Fukuyama has pronounced an end to ideological conflict and predicted the gradual but nonetheless certain triumph of democracy and free markets.According to this liberal myth Wilsonianism is best understood, not as a repudiation of past isolationism, but as the culmination of American congenital idealism.Jumping ahead to the Cold War, the Soviet threat thus appears not as the main motive for American leadership of the Western alliance, but as the main barrier to American leadership of the whole world!But Robert Kaplan has warned of two 21st century worlds–a zone of peace and wealth and a zone of chaos and despair– that cannot coexist for long. Commission on National Security in the 21st Century, which just last month published the first installment of its New World Coming project, outlined four possible futures for the world: first, the Democratic Peace, in which national sovereignty survives, but the major powers cooperate to secure peace and free trade, and eventually bring Russia and China into the club; second, Globalization Triumphant, in which national sovereignty erodes, and multilateral institutions and above all multinational corporations lead the world to greater and more equal prosperity, but also to a more uniform and commercial Mc Donald’s/Disney/Microsoft culture; third, Protectionist Nationalism, in which cooperation and free trade break down and the Great Powers compete for military and commercial power in a poorer and more dangerous world; and finally, Mayhem triggered by a global depression, environmental disaster, or ethnic violence, a world characterized by wars, refugee floods, and terrorism. Our leaders cannot craft policy on the basis that the future will pretty much resemble the past, because then any new challenge will come as a shock for which we are ill- prepared.Samuel Huntington, the realist, believes that the bipolar Cold War world is being replaced by a clash among civilizations, with the Islamic and Chinese those most likely to cross swords with the West. But to assume that the future is bound to be wild and unpredictable is also no use, because even the sole superpower cannot prepare for every conceivable disaster.