Surfing the channels in search of "Simply Ming," I completely by accident came on the soccer match when there were two minutes left. So I happened by dumb luck to catch the sensational goal by Mario Götze as he lifted himself almost parallel to the earth and fired the ball past the Argentinian goalie to win the world championship for Germany. The famous hockey moment in which the great Bobby Orr appeared to be flying came to mind. I stayed around for the awards ceremony and it was oddly surrealistic. There were no vampires, no zombies, as we so strangely envision ourselves these days, no Reagan reenactors denouncing it all as the work of foreign devils surreptitiously intent on destroying America, and President Obama was not king of the world. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was. And she seemed a good fit.
The world soccer cup has been touted as the "people's" olympics, but it is not that at all. The Olympics are an abstraction of vast states vying for world dominance. Carl von Clausewitz had it backward. War is not an extension of politics by other means. Politics is an extension of war and the Olympics bring their globalist preening. World soccer is play. It is what the world does when China and America are not watching.
And that was the experience of seeing Germany win (again) and seeing Merkel as a natural world leader. It is to see Germany without abstraction, but in the flesh, possibly the first among the warring states of the past century to return to earth; to abandon abstraction and return again to a normal, human condition. The end of the world is past almost 70 years now, and next year the Yalta Conference in which the Dominant Three — Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Franklin Roosevelt — sat together in the greatest conquest the world has ever even imagined, should be seen as that: The end of things. The world hasn't begun again yet and it will not begin again until the United States, China and Russia (and Japan?) follow Germany's lead and do the same.
But the detached, surrealist, floating-in-space-and-watching-it-all-from-a-space-station feeling occurred because this moment in Brazil brought a picture of a world without America. Certainly we were there somewhere and did pretty well I am told, and blithe spirit — true world spirit — Rihanna represented us in the victory celebrations. (" ... die besten Party-Fotos mit Rihanna & Merkel," read the German tabloid Bild's headline.) But clearly the rest of us here did not belong to this celebration: We do not belong in this world, which seems increasingly to be "the world." And they all seem to be doing so well without our instruction. It all seems to come so naturally to them. It seems such a bad fit for us.
That in time could be a problem. The world is a donut in which the whole world plays soccer. And we, the Americans, have become the hole in the donut.
Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.