Guardian Unlimited | Guardian daily comment | Stagger on, weary Titan
Timothy Garton Ash sees the Washington of today in the perspective of London in the aftermath of the Boer war a century ago - and the powers of the United States in the world today in the perspective of the powers of Britain in the world then.
Iraq is America's Boer war, in his perspective. A war that turned out to be more complicated than anticipated, and drain the resources also of the global superpower of the day.
And if Britain then saw the gradual emergence of a Germany that was preparing to challenge its global supremacy, there is the feeling in Washington that the rising Asian power of China will change the equation in an equally fundamental way.
But Timothy Garton Ash has words of warning and caution:
"If you are, by any chance, of that persuasion that would instinctly find this a cause for rejoicing, pause for a moment to consider two things: first, that major shifts of power between rising and falling great powers have usually been accompanied by major wars; and second, that the next top dog could be a lot worse."
This, then, is the time for critical solidarity.