Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Tuesday, April 09, 2002 Permanent link to this day

The Peril of Too Much Power: on the danger of America being such a dominant power in the world, a situation that has led to some calling the U.S. a "hyperpower", a term apparently coined by French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine.

Contrary to what many Europeans think, the problem with American power is not that it is American. The problem is simply the power. It would be dangerous even for an archangel to wield so much power. The writers of the American Constitution wisely determined that no single locus of power, however benign, should predominate; for even the best could be led into temptation. Every power should therefore be checked by at least one other. That also applies in world politics.

See also: Global Governance and the International System: a speech given by Thierry de Montbrial to the Trilateral Commission in 2000.

My first point will be on the concept of American "hyperpower." Hyperpower, as you know, is a French word translated into English. The author of that word is Hubert Védrine, the current French Foreign Minister. I think he did not at all mean to be anti-American when he formulated this concept. What does it mean? It means that the concept of superpower is no longer relevant to describe the United States, because the United States is not only the only superpower, but the only power ever to have the capacity to act worldwide, either on the economic scene or on the military scene. Of course, you could use other words. You could speak, for instance, of mega-power or giga-power. But the fact is that we need a new word because it's an entirely new situation. And this extraordinary achievement is due--at least in the recent past--to the admirable way the United States adjusted to the new technological revolution and its productivity achievements. It is also due to the very flexibility of its society. It looks as if the very fabric of the American society had been designed to fit with globalization, contrary to nations which are much more monolithic like Japan, for instance, which suffer a lot from adjusting to the new world. The European countries stand somewhere in between Japan and the United States.

Bookstore records

In a case brought by The Tattered Cover with the assistance of the ABFFE, The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment protects bookstores from being forced to turn over customers' purchase records to police. This could be a good sign in terms of a related clause in the PATRIOT Act mentioned here a few days ago, although the court did leave open the possibility that there were situations where such records could be obtained by the government.

See also: The court's ruling.


Atlantis lifted off yesterday and is on track for a noon Eastern docking on Wednesday with the space station.

April 2002
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30        

Copyright © 2001-2002 by Wes Cowley