Thursday, February 26, 2009

Today's Quote: The Great Prize

From God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World

The Anglo-Americans have sought to build a global trading system based increasingly on liberal democratic capitalism; their enemies have resisted and tried to build walls that would protect their societies from the disruptive effects of Anglo-Saxon ideas and practices.
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The Anglospheric grand strategy has not always been conscious. To some degree it is embedded in the assumptions, habits, and institutions of the English-speaking powers.
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By doing what came naturally, by following the logic of their geography, culture, and society, the British and then the Americans happened on a way of managing their affairs in the world that provided for a flexible and durable form of global power suited to their circumstances while committing them to a less difficult set of tasks and conflicts than other leading powers have faced.
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The modern version of sea power was invented by the Dutch. The system of global trade, investment, and military power that the Dutch built in the seventeenth century was the envy and the wonder of the world at the time, and many basic features were adopted by the British and the Americans in subsequent years. That Dutch system was like version 1.0 of the operating software on which much of the world still runs. At the turn of the eighteenth century the British introduced version 2.0; there were several incremental upgrades along the way until the Americans introduced version 3.0 after the Second World War.
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A new kind of society and a new kind of power had appeared in the world. An open, dynamic, and capitalist society generated innovations in finance, technology, marketing, and communications. Those innovations offered the open society enormous advantages in world trade. The wealth gained in this way provided the basis for military power that could withstand the largest and mightiest rival empires of the day. This basic formula of an open society, world trade, and world power was the power secret of the sea kings and the major driving force in the history of the last four hundred years.
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For the Anglo-Americans, the great prize has been and remains the construction of a global system that meets their economic and security needs.
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In Anglo-American strategic thought, there is one world composed of many theaters. The theaters are linked by the sea, and whoever controls the sea can choose the architecture that shapes the world. The primary ambition of Anglo-Saxon power is not dominance in a particular theater; it is to dominate the structure that shapes the conditions within which the actors in each of the world's theaters live...the end is to control the system that binds them all together.

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