Thursday, December 14, 2006

The End of Pax Americana

The End of Pax Americana by Robert J. Samuelson:

In World War II, an estimated 60 million people died. Only four subsequent conflicts have had more than a million deaths (the Congo civil war, 3 million; Vietnam, 1.9 million; Korea, 1.3 million; China's civil war, 1.2 million), reports the Center for International Development and Conflict Management at the University of Maryland. Under the U.S. military umbrella, democracy flourished in Western Europe and Japan. It later spread to South Korea, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. In 1977, there were 89 autocratic regimes in the world and only 35 democracies, the center estimates. In 2005, there were 88 democracies and 29 autocracies.

Prosperity has been unprecedented. Historian Angus Maddison tells us that from 1950 to 1998 the world economy expanded by a factor of six. Global trade increased 20 times. These growth rates were well beyond historic experience. Living standards exploded. Since 1950, average incomes have multiplied about 16 times in South Korea, 11 times in Japan and six times in Spain, reports Maddison. From higher bases, the increases were nearly five times in Germany, four in France and three in the United States.

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