It’s a Great Time to Be Alive

Edit: I had not heard of Fareed Zakaria before coming across his talk in a London School of Economics podcast, from which the below quote is taken. I was unaware at time of posting of his positive stance toward the US-Iraq war, and I don’t mean to endorse it by quoting Mr. Zakaria. Also the quote below has some serious caveats — I posted it here in the spirit of being grateful for living in a world that is currently as peaceful as it is.

“In 1986 a very famous American historian, John Lewis Gaddis, wrote an essay called The Long Peace in which he pointed out that at that point, 1986, it had been 40 years since there had been a great power war and that that 40 year period was the longest period in modern history where you had not had a war between the great powers. Well, a generation later not only has the long peace endured, but in fact you can add to it another caveat which is, there is currently no significant military-political competition among the great powers of the world. Which is actually unique in history. You have never had a situation where there is not serious and sustained military-political competition among the great powers.”

Fareed Zakaria’s London School of Economics talk “The Post-American World and the Rise of the Rest” 7/1/09

3 thoughts on “It’s a Great Time to Be Alive

  1. The thing that bothers me about Fareed Zakaria is that he’s wrong like more than half the time. I also appreciate Gaddis but his quote ignores the cold war and doesn’t consider all the proxy wars in asia and the americans that sprung out of it.

  2. Good points! I’m just now starting to pay attention to this world so I hadn’t heard of Fareed Zakaria before listening to this talk; thanks for the insights on both sides.

  3. I also disagree entirely with this point of view. Huge numbers of soldiers and civilians have died violently due to “military-political competition among the great powers of the world” in the past 70 years; is the success here simply that there has not been a ground war in the US or Europe? Or commentary on a relative trend in the fraction of world population that perishes in armed conflict every year, for which in context we should not be particularly proud? I acknowledge the profound privilege and stability many in the first world enjoy, but I don’t think it’s particularly well distributed or exceptional historically.

    On topic, I’m currently reading “The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America’s Wars”.

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