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17.6: Conclusion

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  • It is important to understand that the United States cannot be taken for granted. This is equally true whether it continues – or tries to continue – the role that it established for itself in the twentieth century or becomes a ‘normal’ power much as the United Kingdom did following the Second World War. The rivalry of superpowers that we saw in the past was a certain kind of world order. The hubris of one rich and powerful nation, the United States, is another. Should the United States change its priorities, the large, rich nations of the world may collectively find the need and will to create yet another form of order – one in which they share the decision-making and costs of taking necessary actions. If this does not occur, it is likely that dominant regional powers will provide local security – as meagre or brutal as that may be. The North Africa and Middle East regions lack a plausible candidate for this role and will likely remain in turmoil until one emerges. There could be a struggle among potential contenders, in those and in some other regions, that escalates into more serious conflict. Thus, a large part of the world may continue to be torn by instability, with few voluntary interveners for the foreseeable future. The question many will ask is can more stable regions such as Europe and North America isolate themselves from this instability? Or, does peace and security at home require – as those in America who favour intervention abroad claim – a constant foreign military involvement? Considering such issues as the migration crisis in Europe, which has at its roots instability outside Europe, brings real focus to these questions. Another worry is competition among regional powers. Once a nation gains dominance locally, will it have an irresistible temptation to expand as the United States did after the Second World War? Again, this question brings us back to the issue of China’s rise. With all of this in mind, some may come to remember ‘Pax Americana’, for all its faults, as an era of peace and stability