Tim Brinton

Silver Linings for a Golden Age

To gain purchase on where the world is headed, we must consider three crucial issues: whether the US will reassert its moral leadership; whether China will recapture its economic-growth momentum; and whether Japan and Europe can recover their animal spirits. Despite the many challenges ahead, there is reason to be optimistic.

SINGAPORE – Are prospects for global stability and prosperity improving or deteriorating? With enlightenment and progress in some parts of the world accompanied by atavism and stagnation elsewhere, this is not an easy question. But we can gain greater purchase on it by considering three other questions.

The first is whether the United States will regain its standing as a source of moral leadership. Despite its flaws, America did provide such leadership, beginning at the end of World War II. But the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, changed everything.

Americans’ anger following the attacks drove them to support policies that they once would have considered inconceivable. In the name of the “global war on terror,” they have tolerated torture; accepted – and even endorsed – the illegal invasion of Iraq; and allowed innocent civilians to become collateral damage of mechanical drone strikes.

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