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Life After Pax Americana

The post-1945 order constructed by the US in Europe and East Asia has been fraying at the edges for some time now. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement has only hastened its unraveling.

NEW YORK – The post-1945 order constructed by the US in Europe and East Asia has been fraying at the edges for some time now. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement has only hastened its unraveling.

For the first time since the early years of General Charles de Gaulle’s presidency in France, a major Western leader – German Chancellor Angela Merkel – has stated openly that Europe can no longer rely on US leadership. This might seem ironic, coming from a German and a confirmed Atlanticist, but it is actually fitting, because Germany, in its transformation from a murderous dictatorship into a peaceful liberal democracy, needed the US more than any country.

Perhaps we should be sanguine about the gradual end of Pax Americana. No imperial system lasts forever. An international order that made complete sense when the world was emerging from the ruins of World War II, only to enter a long Cold War between two nuclear superpowers, may no longer be adequate, and may stand in the way of better arrangements.

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