Saturday, May 28, 2011

Which Greek Example

The idea that America is managing our decline by learning to lead from behind sounds an awful lot like Britain's past notion that in their decline they could be Greece to our rising Rome--guiding the brutes with more power than brains. Nice thought. It didn't work then. It won't now:

There is something about President Obama's exclusive reliance on the most idealistic bits of Western civilisation which reminds me of Harold Macmillan's idea that Britain should be Athens to America's Rome. It contains within itself an admission of defeat.

We can pretend that choosing to abdicate leadership and downgrade our military doesn't really mean much when we can just lead from the middle of the pack. But it isn't true. And even if it can be done, our test case for the concept consists of leading from behind to push two other countries long past their prime rather than guiding a rising power like China or India.

Worse, I fear that any notions we might have or replicating Greece might come true--except that we will follow the path of modern Greece and not the contemporaries of Rome.