A Dangerous Time for the United States Of America

A Dangerous Time for the United States Of America
The United States has had enjoyed an unprecedented global hegemony since the end of the cold war in 1989. The collapse of the USSR had provided the United States an opportunity to expand its liberal global order in the global world. The United States was free to Rome in every realm of international relations.

The reason of the US’s unchallenged supremacy was the absence of a parallel competitor; however, it was coupled with the internal stability at home. The stability at home ensures the strength of the foreign policy of the states in the international arena.

In addition to it, there were relatively lesser global challenges that could create trouble for the United States. But, now, in the contemporary times, the United States has been facing a dangerous time due to some reasons: the emergence of new global competitors like China; the appearance of threats to its democracy at home- the Trump mind-set; the rise of global challenges like the climate change issue and the Russian war against the Ukraine, and the Russian ambitions towards the US’s allies in the eastern and the western Europe.

Moreover, the US’s military  misadventures in Afghanistan and in the Middle East has explicitly weakened its relative economic power which has directly influenced the economic disparities in the United states that also has catalysed the rise of far right groups.

These underlying factors have contributed to create a dangerous situation for the United States to safeguard its democratic norms back at home and to maintain peace and order in the global world.

The United States has remained the global world order since the disintegration of the USSR. The US led liberal world order has had prevailed across the globe through the values of democracy and the international free market economy. The dollar has maintained its central position in the international financial matters. However, with the emergence of new global economic players, there is apparently a paradigm shift in the international economic and financial markets. That is affecting the US’s global economic power.

The 2008 economic crisis exposed the loopholes in the liberal world order as well as the American incapacity to maintain the economic status quo. The one single state that has threatened the US’s economic might is China. After the inclusion of China in the world trade organization in 2001, china has made a tremendous growth in increasing its export by replacing the US’s relatively costly exports with its cheap products in the African and Asian markets.

China has used its economic leverage as a soft power to gain political gains in Africa, East Asia, and South Asia and among the US’s European allies. There has been a growing realization among the US’ allies to minimise their dependency on the American goods.

An eminent American scholar of international relations professor John Mearsheimer has argued in his book ‘Why china Cannot Rise Peacefully’ that the rise of China as global power will threaten the American political and economic power, while, the US will try to maintain the balance of power by containing China which would eventually involve the US with an inevitable conflict with China. It would be a Thucydides Trap for the US to contain the emerging power in order to maintain its established power.

Moreover, the Chinese irredentist ambitions towards its neighbouring states may threaten the US security interests in the Far East: the South China Sea issue, the Taiwan issue and the East China Sea issue. To contain China both militarily and economically would be a dangerous quagmire for the United States.

The global world has been facing an unprecedented climate change issues. The scientists have reiterated their warnings, time and again, that the world might reduce its carbon emissions in order to save the planet, otherwise, the world must be ready to face the dire consequences. The on-going floods in Pakistan and in order countries may prove to be an indicator to a disastrous and catastrophic future for the humanity. The United States has remained an advocate of carbon free planet in order to reduce the climate risks.

However, the Trump administration, unilaterally, withdrew from the Paris climate accord which undermined its credibility and its capacity to implement the climate regulations among the member states. There is no doubt that the US has backed the global campaigns against the pandemics, diseases, and the climate changes both politically and economically. But, given the US’s weaken economic power and its political unwillingness to act on the global climate change issues may prove a dangerous policy choice for the United States as well as for the whole planet.

The climate change issue may also trigger the US-Chinese conflict because China is one of the biggest carbon emission countries which have been continuously violating the international climate rules. This issue may multiply with the existing US-China antagonism and may aggravate the situation for the United States.

The ‘Russian factor’ had overwhelmed the American foreign policy makers throughout the cold war. The United States, since the 1945, has had taken the responsibility of the security of the western hemisphere. The US’s policy has been proven effective in deterring the Russian aggression by strengthening the NATO and also by expanding its security petrol in the Far East.

However, after the US engagement in the other global political and security problems, the Russian aggression is again on the rise which is directly threatening the US allies in the eastern and western Europe. The Russian annexation of the Crimea in 2014 was an eye opening event for the US security establishment. The Obama administration could not act against the Russian expansionism because the United States was already occupied in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Apparently, the US was not in a position to open another dangerous front with Russia that might escalate the situation to become a protracted conflict. However, the Russian attack on Ukraine has compelled the United States to revisit its foreign policy towards the Russian ambitions. Meanwhile, there is a growing distress among the US’ NATO allies that the United States is reluctant and sceptical to take concrete action against the Russia. The military aid to Ukraine is still in rhetoric which may not become practical without the help of the United States. Thus, the Ukraine-Russian conflict has become a difficult and a dangerous situation for the United States: it may not act aggressively nor it may remain neutral.

The United States may not be able to face and tackle the above mentioned global challenges without maintaining the peace and stability back at home.  The internal security of the United States is just not the part of problems; rather it is itself a bigger problem that may require the shift of focus from global challenges to the internal matters.

Since the 1945, the US has enjoyed its global hegemony due to two major advantages: its geopolitical location and effective and stable democratic institutions with in the United States. These advantages have had provided the US an opportunity to focus more on the global issues. However, the recent political developments in the United States may no longer allow the US establishment particularly the democrats to continue their ‘international social work’- as the Republicans like to interpret the US’ global campaigns it in that way.

The 2016 presidential election was the phenomenon that the democrats and the US think tanks would not have anticipated. The emergence of Donald Trump as the president of the US has exposed the fault lines in the American democracy and has proven to be detrimental for the internal security. The issue of racism which has been remained Achilles’ heel for the America is again on the rise. The extreme far right radical groups: Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists and Neo Nazis are gaining support and are strengthening their grounds which was culminated on 6 January attack on the capital. The violent attack on the Capitol Hill has vehemently threatened the capacity and the credibility of the American federal institutions.

Although the federal institutions are working to circumvent the situation, yet it may take a long route to heel the American democratic institutions which would undermine the American power to implement its foreign policy goals with full strength. The polarisation in the American society would encourage its international competitors to take the advantage of the situation as Russians and Chinese are already exploiting the American weakness. This is really a dangerous and critical situation for the United States- both at home and abroad.

The global geopolitical ,economic, and security issues have multiplied with the internal American instability to the extent that the United states is no longer a free to Rome in the international and global politics. The war on terrorism already has weekend its relative economic power. The emergence of multipolarity and the regional balance of power are just adding to reduce the American capacity to maintain its position in the international relations which would ultimately affect the American will and capacity to secure its allies in the East Asia, and also in the Eastern and Western Europe. The United States has a history of facing vicious and crucial circumstances in the past, both at domestic and at the international level: the American civil war, WW2, the cold war with the USSR, and the war against terrorism.

However, the United States was able to achieve the victories against those difficult odds because the American society was united and there was a relative peace inside the United States. But, this time, the United States has to fight at the multiple fronts which would be dangerous with the declining economic and political power along with the internal instability.

Some American scholars argue that the United States would need another disaster like the civil war to unite the American society again. The circumstances would turn in either way in the world of complex interdependence: the United States would become again ‘the United States of America’ or ‘the disunited states of America’.  This is indeed a dangerous time for the United States.

I hold an M.Phil degree in International Relations and World Order from the University of Leicester, England. I teach IR at the University level. Tweet at @AIamasimali