Fareed Zakaria is a demagogue and a typical talking head contemporary American pundit--talkative, shallow and not really cultured. Yet, when even this poster-boy for pop-geopolitics (after all, he was a Sam Huntington's student), a fig leaf covering general ignorance, arrives to such conclusions, it means it is getting really hot down (or up) there, in the corridors of the American temple of geopolitical "thought":
Sometime in the last two years, American hegemony died. The age of U.S. dominance was a brief, heady era, about three decades marked by two moments, each a breakdown of sorts. It was born amid the collapse of the Berlin Wall, in 1989. The end, or really the beginning of the end, was another collapse, that of Iraq in 2003, and the slow unraveling since. But was the death of the United States’ extraordinary status a result of external causes, or did Washington accelerate its own demise through bad habits and bad behavior? That is a question that will be debated by historians for years to come. But at this point, we have enough time and perspective to make some preliminary observations. As with most deaths, many factors contributed to this one. There were deep structural forces in the international system that inexorably worked against any one nation that accumulated so much power. In the American case, however, one is struck by the ways in which Washington—from an unprecedented position—mishandled its hegemony and abused its power, losing allies and emboldening enemies.
Well, Fareed, while your whole piece in Foreign Affairs is behind the pay-wall, allow me to give a brief review of those factors which precipitated this death.
1. While the United States, in the wake of the Soviet collapse, remained the sole superpower, it somehow escaped the attention of all those "analysts" that Russia which emerged from the rubble of the Soviet Union still remained a nuclear superpower herself capable even in 1990s to obliterate the United States. Nor ACTUAL US military power, the only element which dominates completely ignorant minds of American geopolitical "academe" was as great as it was heralded after the Gulf War. It was akin to the situation of throwing an undesirable tenant from the room and trying to shut the door after this tenant, only to see this tenant's foot still in the door not allowing to shut it.
2. United States, its political class, almost exclusively, do not grasp the nature and application of the modern military power within the framework of real economy, not some BS credit driven monetary indexes which hid so well a catastrophe of American de-industrialization, hailed, including by you, Fareed, as a development and proof of American power, while in reality being an exact opposite. In reality, few humanities educated people have a good grasp of the world-class hi-tech military being a first derivative of advanced and large economies. They simply do not understand this connection.
3. Yes, I agree--NO power on this planet has the ability to control this whole planet, especially with some contenders capable to defeat the United States in their vicinity, which, accidentally happen to be in Eurasia--the main prize of this whole game. So much for "hyper-power". Once military issue is settled, the institutional one follows, with American tools of control, from currency to international organizations, to moronic financial rating agencies, being dismantled or discredited as I type this. Davos "civilization" is going down, Fareed, for a simple reason--it has few resources, it is being raped into the multiculturalism and decay and militarily it can only threaten third-rate armies of underdeveloped states. It still can built skyscraper here and there, it still can produce one or the other piece of wonderful technology, but that is about it--it reached its full moral collapse stage and it is facing down into the abyss of social and economic upheaval--a direct result of suicidal economic and social policies of the last 30+ years.
4. Ah, yes, American elites in general are second rate, not well-educated, hardly cultured and you, Fareed, is one of their best representatives. Lawyers, philosophers and political "scientists" do not make good statesmen. Not to mention that political science is not a science.
So, it is a healthy process then, when Zakaria begins to recognize a reality, which he for so long tried, very publicly, to deny, or hide. Will he, and his ilk, recognize REAL factors behind the death of unipolarity is yet to be seen. Considering, in general, a dismal American political scientists' record of correctly predicting or forecasting anything, the forecast is...ahem...not good. But who knows. But in general, the United States, in the wake of Soviet collapse and Russia truly desiring great relations between the two, humiliated Russia by unceremoniously shoving her to the curb and unleashed, starting from the rape of Yugoslavia, a sequence of mindless and criminal military aggressions and color "revolutions'. Well, folks, what do you do when you learn that there is a loony armed with the kitchen knife running amok in your neighborhood with police doing nothing about it? Right, you earn money and buy a shotgun, or two. Just in case. Same applies to geopolitics, always did. And especially so to Russia, who knows a thing or two about dealing with bullies. So, here we are.
In related news: this drone, shot by Iran, thing is interesting in terms of dynamics of reactions. What is also important about this whole situation? A single Global Hawk's price tag is somewhere in the vicinity of $200 million and, yes, it is "stealthy". Make you own conclusions what this message is all about.