MIKHAIL GORBACHEV yesterday warned the United States of its dangerous "superiority complex" and said that, if the 21st century became known as the second "American Century", the rest of the world would have suffered.
Speaking in New York, the former Soviet President criticised Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State, for saying that there were exceptional circumstances in which the US had the right to use military force unilaterally, even if other countries objected. "I don't think the world will accept this approach," he said, responding to a speech by her on Monday night.
In a passionate statement of the dangers of the US abusing its position as the world's sole superpower, Mr Gorbachev said that, if the US dominated the 21st century as it did the last, "what about the rest of us?" Declaring that Europe extended "from the Atlantic to Vladivostok - and even to Vancouver", he urged the US to engage more deeply in a
partnership with Europe.
European and Asian concerns about US imperialism in the aftermath of the Cold War dominated the one-day conference, Global Forum 2000, organised by The News Corporation, parent company of The Times, on America's role as the world's greatest economic, military and cultural power.
Gathering on Wall Street, symbolic heart of the phenomenon of US economic growth, leading politicians appeared most concerned about whether the prosperity and power of the US could be too much of a good thing.
Europeans, in particular, seemed anxious to pick and choose from the American Dream, wanting Microsoft but not McDonald's, partnership but not domination. Jean-Claude Trichet, Governor of the Banque de France, invoking the now familiar epithet of the "American hyperpower", called on the US to "exert its influence with responsibility and self-restraint". He said the US had a "tendency to underestimate its own influence".
These laments have not been lost on US commentators and academics, who have indulged in an outpouring of self-analysis.
Their tone was reflected in a speech by Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, who said yesterday that the US had to "learn to listen, to be a partner", a change that was a "real stylistic challenge".
Copyright 2000 Times Newspapers Ltd.