Hans Mark Interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley
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How do you think the world is changing, looking down the road, drawing on all of your experience? Is it a new world that we're going to have to face in the coming years?
Yes. I think the answer to that question can never be no.
It might take two hours to answer which we don't have, I understand.
Let me try to put it very succinctly. What has been changing now for ten years is the bipolar nature of the international system, namely that Washington and Moscow are the two important players and everybody else is secondary. That has been changing really, I think, since 1970. Both of us, the Chinese breaking loose on one side and the NATO alliance getting looser on our side, and so on.
So the question is, what kind of a world is emerging out of this? And the answer is, one that has a number of different emerging power centers. You've got South America, with Brazil as a major superpower coming on. You've got Western Europe, clearly. You have the Islamic world, a new force. Even though they fight with each other, they still have a common heritage and a common basis for working together on certain issues. East Asia, clearly a new power structure, power bloc. What's needed in a period like this is a new balance of power in the world, and I think the United States is in a peculiarly good position to lead in the development of this balance of power.
There are people who say the country's declining and empires fall and so on. We have something in this country which is absolutely unique and that has never happened before in history, and that is, we have the ability to amalgamate people from all over the world and to absorb what they know and what they have learned, culturally and in all other ways, into our own experience. It is that ability that allows us to continually reinvent ourselves, and therefore to have this enormous new opportunity to grow and to lead and to be something different and something even more important than we are today. That, to me, is the real message here.
I've read this book by Professor Kennedy on the decline and fall of empires. The historical analogies he draws just aren't true. We have refugees coming in from East Asia. Those people are going to be in policymaking positions ten years from now, fifteen years from now, and they're going to influence what this country does. A nation declines when it gets ossified. As long as you can bring in people -- and look, the classic example is Henry Kissinger. He was a refugee, came to this country, wound up as Secretary of State. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that fifteen years from the now the Secretary of State may be an Iranian refugee or a Mexican or somebody else with a new orientation, one that you and I won't understand. But the one thing that will be certain is that that orientation will continue to make this country a great nation. And that's what's unique about us.
Dr. Mark, on that very optimistic note, and very compelling argument, I want to thank you very much for being with us today. We very much appreciate this opportunity. And thank you very much for joining us for this Conversation on International Affairs.
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