The Gulf: Read My Ships

George Bush, who has spent a lifetime preparing for the kind of crisis he faces in the Persian Gulf, has adroitly rallied most of the world behind him. Now he must keep the pressure on until Saddam ba

Communism collapses, America declines. For more than a year, that coupling has expressed the conventional wisdom: a new world is emerging, a post-cold war era driven as never before by economic competition, an order in which other nations, new superpowers like Germany and Japan, will challenge U.S. primacy. At best, the argument runs, an exhausted U.S., nearly bankrupt after 40 years of containing Soviet expansionism, will have to share global leadership in the 21st century.

It may play that way. It may even be likely. But not just yet. The uneven distribution of wealth-producing resources -- the gap between haves and...