Would we be better off w/o a superpower?

Utterly theoretical question.

With a magic wand, the United States become Disunited into five or so sections, all of which are roughly the size of the major Euro powers (40-60 million pop, 1-2 trillon GDP). They are freindly democracies but not politically allied. As a side effect, the EU becomes effectively defunct. The rest of the world remains the same.

Is the world better off?

Many (including myself) would reflexively say yes, but there are things to think about. To wit:
[li]Could any world body (UN) effectively resist regional aggression, ala Iraq/Kuwait, Bosnia, China/Taiwan? [/li][li]Do financial markets benefit from having one or two markets/currencies as the “gold standard”?[/li][li]Would there be a global arms race? Many nations spend relatively little on defense because they know they are under the US defense umbrella. Would those nations feel a need to spend more without such an ally, and how would that affect their economies?[/li][li]Hollywood and American culture are global forces. Would the decentralization of that force lead to more tolerance, or more Balkanization? [/li][li]There have been relatively few periods in human history without one or two political entities who dominated the landscape, which begs the question of whether or not there is some underlying political force that inevitably causes superpowers to arise. [/li][/ul]

I personally feel that one of the reasons the U.N. isn’t taken seriously is because everyone knows the U.S. is the one doing all the policing. I mean, Iraq is currently disobeying a pact to allow U.N. personnel in to check for nukes, but the U.S. is the one going to enforce it?

The only times in history where there has been a relative period of peace and calm was when one large power emerged and enforced it (Pax Romana, Pax Britannia, and now the Pax Americana).

So it’s a very good thing that there is a world superpower, as long as it is a superpower dedicated to the principles of democracy and peace. And that describes the U.S. quite well, even if on occasion its actions involve violence.

Yes, but some of the things that were done during Pax Britannia weren’t so great for everyone-hello, Ireland, anyone?

The Romans weren’t angels either. But the question is whether or not the world as a whole was better off when a large power arose and enforced a worldwide ‘peace’. Consider the alternative - continual medium-scale wars along the lines of the Iran/Iraq conflict. There would be wars between the Koreas, wars all through the middle east, possibly Central America, Europe…

Note that when I say there has been a ‘world peace’, I don’t mean that these periods were devoid of conflict. As far as I know, there has never been a time in history when the entire world was truly at peace. But when the large powers arose, the conflict was drastically limited in scope and scale.

I tend to agree with your main point … but wouldn’t it be more useful to point out wars that have actually been stopped by the US; rather than naming all the ones that haven’t? Granted, most of those places "could have been worse.

Under the conditions put forth in the OP, the world would start dividing up into camps in a effort to create a balance of power. What Sam Stone is saying is that during the times of the Roman Empire and the British Empire there were periods without such a balance since they were so dominant. After the Soviet Union fell, the same sort of condition now exists, with the U.S. being the dominant force.

The United States has been guilty of imperialism during its development and continues to be accused of it. I will go out on a limb and say that the current situation differs from the other two in that the dominance of the U.S. is not reliant on an empire made up of other nations.

The condition put forth by the OP is actually the norm and we today are in a unique period. It probably will not be long before the U.S. is challenged by some other power. That may be the more interesting subject: who will it be?

As Sam Stone says “…it’s a very good thing that there is a world superpower, as long as it is a superpower dedicated to the principles of democracy and peace.” Much as people try to demonize it, the US is a force for good in the world and a guarantor of stability for millions of people. Without the US, how easily would South Koreans or Taiwanese - to take a couple of examples - sleep at night? The weaker the US is, the relatively stronger the Saddams and Gaddffis will be.

Thanks to that stability, we have a global economy that has expanded significantly in the last couple of decades, and the highest levels of wealth creation, life expectancy and general quality of life in the history of the human race.

US dominance seems secure for decades to come. IMO, post-WW2 history strongly suggests that unfree and undemocratic societies are inherently weaker economically and technologically than their more civilized counterparts. The only way China (say) can ever equal or surpass the US as a superpower will be by becoming free and democratic - and therefore a force for good and not something to worry about.

But I’m an optimist.

“Would we be better off w/o a superpower?”

Speaking just for myself, I’ve been a lot less jumpy since my X-ray vision went on the fritz.