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During the Cold war, smaller nations played for one of two teams: The Americans or the Soviets. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the world took a breath. Globalization poured forth due to Free Trade Agreements, the merging of the European Union (in 1992) and the new "Information Superhighway"
In due course, came the Anti-Free trade riots in Seattle in 1999, the the dot-com implosion and finally September 11, 2001 which ended the world's "silly season."
In 2007, America is the last power standing. We spend the most on military because our bases are in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Europe is building it's own version of a United States by merging economies and sovereignty's.
Asia has come back after "The Asian Flu" hit during the 90's. Americans are learning that China does not want to fight, but they are busy expanding their economy like Japan did during the 1980's
The Islamic nations are proving to be the only balance to American power. Within their societies, they are having an internal Revolution. September 11, 2001 turned America into Martin Luther for the Muslim world. Turkey and Dubai understand modernization, Palestine and Saudi Arabia do not. There is a new trend of "Islamic Economics" to help expand corporations and ease debt in the Muslim world.
America, as the only power on the scene, is in the Middle East to create something that was missing since 1979, stability and free markets. The Old World is slowly catching up; Asia understands, especially China. The race is not towards Military might and real estate acquisitions, but economic stability and future investments. Realpolitick lies not in the bombs in the streets, but the seller who yells, "Buy."