Something like the "bipolar hegemony" of Great Britain and Russia after 1815 (though other players like Austria, Prussia, and France mattered) could be reconstituted, with the US and China substituting for Great Britain and Russia. This seems to be Henry Kissinger's ultimate dream - a dream that one can glimpse in his latest book, Germanically entitled World Order: Reflections on the Character of Nations and the Course of History.
Is it time to recognize a Chinese equivalent of the Monroe Doctrine in East Asia--accepting that China is now the pre-eminent regional power? There are essential caveats to such a dramatic policy shift. At a minimum, Beijing would need to embrace not only the original logic of the Monroe Doctrine, but also the so-called Roosevelt Corollary. The latter, adopted during Theodore Roosevelt's administration, promised Britain and the other European powers that the United States would maintain order in the Western Hemisphere and discipline irresponsible governments in the region - especially North Korea.
The West does indeed face a high risk of becoming overstretched. But what is the alternative, other than accelerating chaos, mushrooming security risks and serial humanitarian disasters? For the West, this dilemma cannot be avoided. Today's accumulating crises, accompanied by America's strategic fatigue, are forcing Europe to define what role it will play in the future of Western -- and global -- stability. If the U.S. can no longer bear the burden of Pax Americana, Europe must do more for collective security.