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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Shape of a Post-American World

The post-American world will be many things, but multilateral isn't one of them. There will be no world government and international organizations will be good for little except sucking up the last drops of wealth and prestige of the United States. It will be a chaotic place with everyone out for themselves.

The Cold War map of the world divided into two camps was simple and clear. The post-American
world will be a much more ambiguous place. Instead of two global ideological alliances based around two world powers, there will be three post-ideological powers, no longer global in scope, and one worldwide ideological alliance.

The United States, Russia and China are post-ideological states. Russia and China have abandoned Communism. The United States is even abandoning nationalism; to say nothing of capitalism, democracy or freedom. Its rulers cling to scraps of global leftist ideology that isolate them from their own people.

Russia and China are run by powerful corrupt elites who emerged from the old Communist order to build economic oligarchies enforced by the ruthless use of force. The United States is increasingly run by an oligarchy of ideological bureaucrats, corrupt technocrats and leftist academics that has a distant resemblance to the USSR and the PRC; but its long march through the institutions hasn't turned fully totalitarian yet. That may be less than a generation away.

Russia, China and the United States are all demographically unstable. Russia and the United States are both on track to become majority-minority countries. China's demographic disaster will be the outcome of its one child policies, gender abortion and its war on the countryside. The United States will probably weather its demographic problems better than Russia or China, because the former faces a fatal Muslim demographic takeover and the latter a conflict that will tear its society apart, but like Russia and China, the demographic crisis in the United States will be exacerbated by the lack of common bonds to see it through a period of social stress.

Russia and China will fall back into their own history, collapse and isolationism for China, barbarian rule for Russia. The United States has no such history to fall back on and its elites have abandoned any meaningful national identity that doesn't rely on pop culture and liberal pieties.

There is little to unify Russia or China except greedy oligarchies playing at nationalism. It's an unconvincing nationalism because the sons and daughters of their elites spend more time abroad than at home and sometimes even hold American citizenship. The KGB oligarchs of Russia and the Communist princes of China are as globalist as any Eurocrat. They have few national commitments. Their goals are wealth and power for their families and associates.

Unfortunately there is even less to unify the United States after the left embraced multiculturalism at the expense of exceptionalism. The erosion of everything from free speech to the free market has reduced the American Dream from individual opportunity to vulgar exhibitionism. Uncontrolled immigration has imported masses of hostile populations everywhere from Nashville to Minneapolis radically changing quintessentially American cultures and replacing them with balkanized minority coalitions who have little in common except a mutual hostility against the United States.

In contrast to the cultural vulnerabilities of the three powers, Islam, the defining global ideological alliance, lacks a superstate as the center of its empire, though it has many state bases, but enjoys the allegiance of a worldwide population larger than any of the three powers. Demographic projections continue to favor the growth of Islam over China, Russia and the United States.

It would be a mistake however to think that China, Russia and the United States are in a conflict with Islam. While Islam is in a conflict with them, each of the three powers divides Muslims into three groups; those Muslims that are within the "empire", part of China, Russia's Eurasian Union or the United States, those that are outside the "empire" but allied to it, e.g. Syria for Russia, Saudi Arabia for the United States and Pakistan for China, and those that are its separatist or terrorist enemies.

Instead of coming to terms with a global struggle with Islam, each power largely concentrates on fighting Muslim separatist or terrorist groups that destabilize its sphere of influence while arming, funding and supporting those Muslim separatist and terrorist groups that destabilize rival powers.

It is therefore simplistic to act as if America, Russia and China have a common interest in fighting Islam. While that may be true, that is not how the leaders of the three powers see it. Putin fights some Islamists while incorporating others into his allied clergy and helping still others go nuclear. The United States bombs the Taliban, but would never consider bombing their paymasters in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

Muslim terrorists operate in all three powers, but are dismissed as unrepresentative aberrations. That is wishful thinking, but empires are shaped to fight their own kind. Islam, like Communism, is something different. It is an ideology and post-ideological powers who believe in very little are poorly adapted to fighting it. Instead many of their elites secretly admire its dedication. 

Islam emerged by taking advantage of the slow collapse of the Roman Empire. Its reemergence as a world power once again coincides with the fall of empires. Like a hyena trotting after prey, Islam is a cultural carrion eater consuming the skills and knowledge of superior civilizations to sustain its warlordism whose religious fanaticism eventually decay into decadent dynasties.

The collapse of the Pax Americana under Obama has freed up Russia and China to begin their campaigns of territorial expansionism. Obama's failure to deter Russia in Ukraine will encourage China to use force as a solution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea. These events will wake the world from the dream of the Pax Americana in which American power kept the peace in much of the developed world.

The end of the Pax Americana also means the end of international law. Instead of a post-American world ushering in a stable multilateral order, it will revert back to a chaotic Lord of the Flies situation in which no single power will predominate, but in which any country or militia that can seize a piece of land or a natural resource will go ahead and do so. For the first time in generations, the First World may wake up to discover that it is once again living under Third World rules.

Those most immediately affected by the decline of the United States will be the Asian and European countries that outsourced their defense to the United States after WW2. Japan has a limited time in which to turn around its economy, demographics and military to be able to face down China.

Europe was able to turn inward without having to make the hard choices and its elites were even able to drag the United States into implementing their vision internationally. But that is coming to an end. Libya may have been the last such war and the American contribution to it was limited. 

The European Union may implode in the coming years, but whether it does or does not, Western Europe will continue to be defined by the quarrels between the UK, France and Germany. The various other players have never been anything other than places to put factories, launder money or import cheap labor from. The rhetoric of the EU is a paper shield that will protect the economies or territories of the smaller and weaker nations.

Europe, unlike the United States, has not been known for its altruism, and its nations face a crippling combination of problems. Europe suffers from Japanese birth rates, Russian demographics, Chinese corruption and American economics (though it would be more accurate to say that America suffers from EU economics.) Despite its size and population, Europe does not have an optimistic future.

A European Union will be too dysfunctional to do more than fight amongst itself. Europe apart will have nations capable of making an impact on the world stage, but it will be a limited impact. European countries are, despite their rhetoric, more concerned for exports than human rights. Israel will always be a cheap and easy target, but that will have as much to do with the rising power of the Gulf as with latent antisemitism. Toothless sanctions will occasionally be imposed to limited effect.

Russia will not stop with Ukraine and NATO will dissolve, officially or unofficially. It may stay around and limit itself to providing humanitarian aid internationally while expelling Poland and any countries that Russia is likely to want to add to its collection. More likely it will be replaced by some European Union entity that officially performs the same function, but unofficially does little except provide troops for UN peacekeeping operations.

The budding Russian empire will find that fighting a new wave of Muslim insurgencies in formerly peaceful republics will consume too much of its time and energy. The soldiers who will march on the scattered pieces of the old red empire will be Muslims and the Eurasian Union will become a Muslim empire with a handful of churches. Like Rome, its fall will come at the hands of its own barbarians.

Iraq and Afghanistan will not prove to be as psychologically devastating to Americans as Vietnam, but they will help discourage further deployments overseas. Severe military budget cuts and a campaign against the warrior culture will leave the military in no shape for anything except peacekeeping missions. The United States will face escalating domestic unrest, less from militias than from gangs, terrorism and the economic collapse of entire cities. It will no longer be in a position to act abroad.

None of this has to happen, but it will if the same bad decisions continue to be made. If eight years of Obama are topped by eight years of Hillary, this is where we will end up. If the European Union continues to drag down the continent, if multilateralism continues to be the great obsession of the elites, if bad economics and bad strategy continue destroying nations, then this will be one of the better outcomes.

The civilized world faces economic, demographic and military crises that it has a limited time frame in which to meet and resolve. If it fails to do that, the civilization in which we have grown up and which we have known all our lives will die and a long interregnum of darkness will follow in its wake.


  1. A recurrence of an deep dark-age society with a small extremely wealthy elite on all continents, protected against the woe's of the world by medical and military mercenaries. Living their vapid decadent lives of the post free world in the isolated splendor of high walled estates, while outside the rabble fights amongst themselves for the well tossed bones in a politically cleverly directed divida et impera rule. A true 1% power vs 99% powerless.

  2. it's already the reality in much of the world. And we're drifting that way. Back to the feudal reality

  3. Anonymous26/3/14

    You forgot to point out that Russian birthrates are as anemic as those of most of Europe.

    I generally agree with Niall Ferguson's theory that we are heading for an a-polar world, a world with no major center of power to impose order. The US will remain the organizing power on this side of the hemisphere, mostly because there are no major economic powers on this side of the globe who are in the mood to start wars. Russia and China will have their spheres of influence. The EU will be mostly internally autonomous but will probably spend a lot of time appeasing Russia and the Muslim world. And Iran and Saudi Arabia will have their spheres of influence in the ME: SA because they're the Sunni religious center and have the oil money, Iran partly because they're the Shia center but mostly because they're lunatics. They're crazy enough to set off WWIII, we all know it, and so we'll all tip-toe around them in the hopes that we don't jostle them into it.

    Reimburse your personal foundations chaverim sheli, because a storm's blowing in.

  4. Anonymous26/3/14

    Internationalism used to be the hallmark of the commies. Nowadays it is most probable to be the billionaires´discourse of choice for a different reason. Their worst enemy: the nation, the patriotism, with its sense of duty and sacrifice for something greater than self.The nation makes a king humble. Not to be allowed anymore

  5. We have a large black minority that is if anything regressing in its ability to compete with whites for income, and a large Hispanic minority that is not progressing very rapidly in achieving income equality with whites. Owing to income status these are reliable Democrat votes. Combine these two groups with others who are largely interested in handout from the government and the result will be an expanded and corrupt government. The only difference between Democrat and Republican regime will be the pace of change. Things will change faster under a Democrat.

    Something to keep in mind is that our new age of international paternalism dates from the close of WWII, and is currently around seventy years old. Behind that is two thousand years of brutality between nations and brutality between tribal groups before that. If things get crappy enough people will turn vengeful enough, and there will be a predictable return to the nastyness of previous eras. The usual regression to the mean.

  6. Great article, it is sadly true, There are ways to soften the blows, but Hillary's election would not help.

  7. Anonymous26/3/14

    Daniel, as usual, a wonderful essay. I believe you may need a word edit in the first sentence of the last paragraph:
    The civilized world faces economic, demographic and military crises that it has a limited [old=world] [new= time] in which to meet and resolve..

  8. My God, I was having a good day untill I found this blog!Daniel, you have opened my eyes.

  9. Forget the blog! Go back to having a good day. Someone out there should.

  10. Great insight...but I think you left out a massive wild card -- the possibility, or probability or plausibility of nuclear war. A nuclear devastation in, say, Iran would change the calculus in ways undreamed of. Then, all bets are off. I

    t's hard to see how we are not headed to such a cataclysm.

  11. Anonymous26/3/14

    As expected, another enthusiastic article and an enjoyable read. I could pick some items to dispute, but I agree that time is slipping away. Demographics change and even big, ominous numbers can be managed, but time is ticking away. On that score, you and Buchanan make valid points. On a side note, I wonder if the Japanese and South Koreans can manage to put WW2 behind them in time to face the future together? If so, I think our friends in the far east will do rather well. Together, they command a lot of power and have the manufacturing capacity to build bigger fleets to maintain commerce. By force if required. W.C.T.

  12. davidXavier27/3/14

    And what of Israel ......

  13. Anonymous27/3/14

    Another set of trenchant (love that word) insights. But: "The United States is increasingly run by an oligarchy of ideological bureaucrats, corrupt technocrats and leftist academics that has a distant resemblance to the USSR and the PRC..." Daniel, Aren't the billionaire oligarchs in the USA increasing their power? Yes there is Soros and a couple of Silicon Valley lefties, but Adelson, Koch Brothers and others on the "right" (I include Zuckerberg) seem more numerous. As to Hillary making things worse, yes yes yes. As you pointed out recently, gender is her only real "qualification." But. Who do you see on the horizon that could provide the genuine leadership we need? Who from the conservative side (or independent) is not mostly beholding to the money-men and insider connections? Who can truly prize the individual as part of a real nation? Please, I need some hope here.

  14. Well you won't fight Islam whilst Barry is in power, or hf his like is elected in 2016. Whilst Egypt has acted against the Muslim Brotherhood, and Saudi has proclaimed them to be a terrorist organisation, Barry has welcomed the MB into the fold.



    One might come to the conclusion that Obama has the same loathing for the USA that the Muslim world does...

  15. Anonymous27/3/14

    A West without Westerners ?, Obama's dream comes true.
    Many of us, sometimes in a fit of pique, change friends, apartments or trade in a car that has become unsatisfactory.
    Unless we have a plan to fill that void, the vacuum that ensues can be painful.
    O seems never to have thought of this.

  16. A Russian/Chinese/Iranian alliance would be an effective superpower if it could be arranged. US/EU delusion and arrogance just might make it possible for those three to overcome their natural antipathies.

  17. Anonymous27/3/14

    Actually, the key to the sudden emergence of Islam as a world power was the sudden and total collapse of the Sassanid Empire after the ignominious defeat of Al Qasidiyah. This gave the Muslims an enormous home base to exploit and made the Byzantine presence in the Levant untenable, which forced a strategic withdrawal back into the Anatolian Peninsula.

    Of course, The Byzantines had been gravely weakened by an extraordinarily destructive War with the Sassanids, but the uslims made no headway into the Byzantine heartland for 400 years; not until they were infused with the fresh blood and superior tactics of the Seljuq Turks from Central Asia. But the key was the utter collapse of the Persians.

    I've always thought that the Muslims of our time viewed the collapse of the Soviet Union after their defeat in Afghanistan as similar to the collapse of the Sassanids after Qadisiyah. It was a sign that they should now attack the stand-in for Byzantium, (America) and force its withdrawal. I don't think it was coincidence that the jihadi movement grew by leaps and bounds after this event.

    Anonymously yours, Callmelennnie

  18. Anonymous27/3/14

    As far as I can determine, this is the typical Russian reaction to Obama's recent tough-talk about Putin:

  19. Anonymous27/3/14

    Americans are screwed.

    wake up suckas, obomba hates you.

  20. Fred Newcomb27/3/14

    Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...
    "it's already the reality in much of the world. And we're drifting that way. Back to the feudal reality" - 26/3/14

    is the most pithy, practical and accurate comment.

    It's not just a "drift," however:

    Our ship has sailed, swiftly gliding its economic bottom down the monopolistic slippery slope waves of a transient self-serving swirling chaotic world sea constantly comprising disparately opposed various other country interests.

    Having dumped overboard our protective over-taxed manufacturing capitalistic weight to increase shorter and shorter spurts of profitability, we never noticed the spent stern wave of our economic freedom, it and its advantage disappearing silently into our immediate past as we charted a planned course of the problem with instant financial gratification never being soon enough.

    As the economic winds of change turn into politically-resistant socialistic squalls, the reduced productive waterline speed and keel stability slow the progress of our ship of freedom into an ever increasing unmaneuverable European-like state, falsely sharing with our allies the myth that our rapidly inflating dollar currency in its diminished world GNP ratio will hold up the imperfectly valued multi-country Euro.

    We became one of many, a once electronically superior Maltese Falcon selling off its technology advantage to an overtaking dictatorially emboldened fleet as our captain and strategists navigate us to be a minor part and at the back of the pack.

    We have to have a grip that like Egypt, Greece and Rome, our own ending 400 year old philosophy existence in this unsustainable current, Third Reich-like managed race, cannot now continue as the once equality-created ideals and constitutional structures that historically carried it have been destroyed and disappeared.

    Like the countries and cultures taking us and others over with their own objectives, we need to launch our life boats led by our own Destination Freedom, one not unlike the Mayflower, that carries the value of our historical assets to a new land.

    Our ship of state has sailed. It no longer exists in its own original unique unknown sea of freedom.

  21. Anonymous27/3/14

    RETIRED say's!
    Dan you are a terrific writer & literary talent,you have a fantastic way with words.The only political pundit I have read who gets close is Mark Steyn.
    Saying this, I would like to see you write a book expanding on your political & social ideas.Perhaps you can get away from various impediments inherent in political blogging on the Internet.You can expand your ideas without the need to stay within the needs of a restrictive narrative.
    Saying all of this,I must disagree with much of your analysis.
    1) The Moslem world will shortly be in a sharp nosedive.
    A)Third World populations have exploded in size,particularly the Moslem World.
    The Islamic societies cannot survive,much less pose a threat to the rest of the world,if they sink under the weight of modernity.They have cultures set up to function in the Feudal age.For instance the Egypt had 18-20 million people when it went to war with Israel in 1948.Today their population numbers somewhere between 80 /90 millon,poor & semi literate people.Egyptian societal structure cannot care for this many people.
    B)there will be shortages of food & water which will cause mass starvation & a breakdown of society,Egypt will be a failed state.The rest of the Arab & Moslem world will not do any better!The Oil States are the only ones with anything to trade with & even they will recede in influence as new methods of oil extraction in the world make them politically expendable to the industrialized nations
    2)Perhaps because of various constraints,very little is spoken of those whom Orwell called the "Moneyed classes". They control their political puppets in government.The Financial & Corporate Oligarchs known as the Shadow State must be considered in the equation in order to reach any worthwhile conclusions about world politics.
    3)As far as the current political people now running the government,they are on borrowed time & heading for political oblivion.The Clintons will not be a problem in 2016,they will disappear along the rest when the economy tanks & the Welfare State goes belly up.The government dependent mobs will hit the streets & start looking for the Great Leader who will promise to "Make the trains run on time". He will also promise to restore their entitlement & bring back the good times!As far as the ethnic diversity in America,I believe that it will be a good thing.What helped the tyrants in Europe like Hitler,Stalin,Mussolini & Franco was the fact that they could deliver their message to a population which was almost exclusively German,Russian,Italian or Spanish.Populations which were class driven & distinctive & susceptible to standardized ethnic manipulation.In America,the ethnic diversity is a social equivalent to political Checks & Balances.The ability to sway any segment of the American public against any other segment,once entitlements are gone,will become much more difficult.Throw in the fact that through the Internet more people then ever before can become aware of the facts concerning their world.Facts that were heretofore unavailable because they were suppressed by the Establishment Media.
    4)Their will be a great paradigm shift when the global financial system goes belly up.I believe that Europe will be the first to take the hit & the rest of global economy will fold up like a house of cards.Financial concerns will bring this to conclusion,politics & war will follow!

  22. Sultan Knish,
    You did not mention India, which I expect is poised to be a powerhouse in the next era no less than China. Do you disagree with that notion? They are very Western; what role do you expect them to play in this post-American age?

  23. First I thought that these are some bold predictions, but then you qualified that none of this will happen if...

    I think your analysis is way too bleak and inaccurate. First of all, Russia and China (especially China) will have much easier time to control Muslims, because they do not play by the western rules -- they will kill them in droves if necessary -- and this is the only language Islam understands. So to predict that they will be taken by Islam is ridiculous. Americans once awaken from time to time have the capacity to act. The greatest risk to US is uncontrolled Mexican immigration. But if Republicans take over Congress in 2014, there is hope that our immigration policies will be somewhat reasonable. I agree that if Hillary is elected (G-d forbid), it will be very bad for America, but not dooming -- she will try to govern from more of a center than Obama and she is less of an ideology -- which is good in this case. Besides, after 8 years of Obama's left, I doubt that Americans will have an appetite for another liberal administration and the political pendulum will swing to the right.

    So, brighten up and stay position, and, please, keep writing your intelligent, hard hitting articles that expose the truth!

  24. Simon,

    I didn't say that China would fall to Islam. Russia however is on a demographic path of Islamization. Being willing to kill separatists doesn't change that. Russia is increasingly reliant on Muslims which means its Eurasian Union will go the way of Rome. Rome's willing to kill didn't stop it from falling to the barbarians.

  25. Anonymous27/3/14

    This is a clear window into the future. If we cannot stop our current slide, one day you will repost it and say, "I told you so".

    Thank you, Daniel.


  26. Anonymous27/3/14

    Considering the way the world was headed even twenty years ago, I don't consider it a bad thing to lose our image as a superpower. Wages in America have declined for decades now, we just need to accept that being armed is better than being decadent. Third worlders will learn very quickly after coming here that we do stick up for our own.

  27. Anonymous27/3/14

    A very good essay as usual if a little depressing. A thought occurs to me that maybe the world needs to turn. Imagine if Rome had endured for another two thousand years. We might not like that world. From every culture something survives and perhaps our fate is to understand that our culture is coming to an end. Maybe there will be a time of chaos and despair but that will also come to an end .
    Who knows what civilisation might then arise. It could well surpass the best of Medieval and Renaissance Europe. But then it might not.
    Time and chance .
    Dave S

  28. Anonymous27/3/14

    'Forget the blog! Go back to having a good day. Someone out there should.'

    I had a good day:)


  29. abprosper27/3/14

    As I understand it the Non Islamic birth rate in Russia is up quite a bit, its higher than anywhere Eastern ,Southern or Central Europe though still low

    Also its not highly Muslim either, 80% Russian with a smattering of other ethnicities several of whom are close enough to Russian to not matter.

    However this isn't an abnormal crash in population, its an expected outcome of urbanization and development where even partially developed nations such as Brazil are starting to embrace lower fertility rates.

    After all for urbanites the fastest way into poverty is a child

    Historically cities invariably cause population decline either through disease or do to smaller preferred family sizes.

    I'd argue that in those terms the population is reaching natural equilibrium and that it simply can't get higher in more developed cultures.

    This still means that institutions with an appetite for cheap labor will need to be contained, They are short sighted and tend to not value culture, Making sure that they are checked an immigration managed (for most nations the proper number is near to zer0 in case anyone is asking, Japan has a model policy) and the nation state will do well enough

    Now basically feral low IQ poor time orientation societies have a longer way to go as they will continue to behave irrationally for sometime but even they are making tiny steps . This is an issue, we don't want Camp of the Saints or the issues explored in Children of Man but its quite a global level jihad threat.

    Also many Islamic countries are undergoing considerable fertility decline

    Hoover Institute notes

    The estimated population-weighted average for the Muslim-majority areas as a whole was -41 percent over these three decades:

    Also note

    Fully 22 Muslim-majority countries and territories were estimated to have undergone fertility declines of 50 percent or more during those three decades — ten of them by 60 percent or more. For both Iran and the Maldives, the declines in total fertility rates over those 30 years were estimated to exceed 70 percent.

    That's a huge decline.

    That said Western civilization is in a rather nasty Weimar period and that never leads to anything good.

    I do tend to agree conflict is on the horizon, Water will be the big issue than food and energy and in fact the entire Post Westphalian system is in more than a bit of trouble.

    Its not however quite as bad and its solutionable if we take growth off the table for a while and accept that we are over our social carrying capacity.

    What I mean there is while we have food we don't have remunerative work and can't redistribute enough so people are going to have less children since many are wisely unwilling to provide favella babies to prop up society.

    They key things will be to protect borders and to stabilize population. Once done, life will go on albeit in smaller less grand terms

  30. Anonymous28/3/14

    I have always thought that the only reason Obama entered politics was to become wealthy. He went from someone whose credit card was declined at a car rental agency just a few years ago, to a man whose wife parades around in 12000 'gowns' and 400 dollar sneakers at a food bank, in a remarkably short time.

    In a 'post American, post capitalism world', how does he plan to rake in the extra millions he will need ? Giving speeches may not pay so well by that time. Maybe he can get adopted as a Saudi prince ?

  31. Earlybird28/3/14

    Great essay. Truth is truth -- Thank you Daniel. A photo from our nation's capitol that would have complemented this article is here:


  32. Anonymous29/3/14

    Mr. Dan Greenfield has described the “Post-American” civilization rather accurately in my view. It reminds me of the post-Roman Empire period and Greenfield's new world looks a lot like that of the post Roman period. Recall the three civilizations that arose after Rome: Byzantium, Christianity, and Islam. Daniel Greenfield’s model look very similar, but totally secular. That’s where I differ from his equation. I agree, the present “Age of Lunacy” is destroying every vestige of civilization but one.

    Mr. Greenfield omitted one factor in his equation: Christianity, led by the Catholic Church which is growing in Africa and the Far East. Once again Christianity will be the only civilizing influence left in the world. It may take another millennium, as in the first case, but Christ will guide our great (to the 25th power) grandchildren to return the world to a much saner situation, as he has promised. In the mean time our self-indulgent generation leaves a legacy of misery for a long time to come.

  33. Anonymous8/5/15

    The Coming Anarchy

    How scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet




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