Thursday, December 28, 2017

Trump's Vision For The USA's Place In The World...

Trump is reshaping America's role internationally. Do the possible perils in doing so outweigh the perceived benefits?

The Atlantic - When great powers fade, as they inevitably must, it’s normally for one of two reasons. Some powers exhaust themselves through overreach abroad, underinvestment at home, or a mixture of the two. This was the case for the Soviet Union. Other powers lose their privileged position with the emergence of new, stronger powers. This describes what happened with France and Great Britain in the case of Germany’s emergence after World War I and, more benignly, with the European powers and the rise of the United States during and after World War II.

To some extent America is facing a version of this—amid what Fareed Zakaria has dubbed “the rise of the rest”—with China’s ascendance the most significant development. But the United States has now introduced a third means by which a major power forfeits international advantage. It is abdication, the voluntary relinquishing of power and responsibility. It is brought about more by choice than by circumstances either at home or abroad.

Abdication is not isolationism. Donald Trump’s United States is not isolationist. He has authorized the use of limited military force against the Syrian government in a manner his predecessor rejected. U.S. military operations have gone a long way toward defeating ISIS in both Syria and Iraq. The Trump administration might employ force against Iran or North Korea, or both, and has pressed for and secured new international sanctions against the latter. It could well act (most likely unilaterally) in the economic realm, applying tariffs or sanctions as it sees fit against one or another trading partner. It is trying its hand (thus far without success) at mediating several disputes in the Middle East. The U.S. military effort in Afghanistan is to be extended and possibly augmented.

But abdication describes U.S. foreign policy all the same, as the United States is no longer taking the lead in maintaining alliances, or in building regional and global institutions that set the rules for how international relations are conducted. It is abdication from what has been a position of leadership in developing the rules and arrangements at the heart of any world order.

For three-quarters of a century, from World War II through the Cold War and well into the post–Cold War era, the United States was the principal architect and builder of global rules. This is not to say that the United States always got it right; it most certainly did not, at times because of what it did, at other times because of what it chose not to do. But more often than not, the United States played a large, mostly constructive, and frequently generous role in the world.

Under Donald Trump, however, U.S. foreign policy shows clear signs of significant departure. Support for alliances, embrace of free trade, concern over climate change, championing of democracy and human rights, American leadership per se—these and other fundamentals of American foreign policy have been questioned and, more than once, rejected. Trump is the first post–World War II American president to view the burdens of world leadership as outweighing the benefits. As a result, the United States has changed from the principal preserver of order to a principal disrupter.

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10 comments:

  1. Les... I saw this article in The Atlantic... here's a significant quote.

    "But abdication describes U.S. foreign policy all the same, as the United States is no longer taking the lead in maintaining alliances, or in building regional and global institutions that set the rules for how international relations are conducted."

    If we substituted the words Under President Obama and made it read like this instead...

    Under President Obama the United States is no longer taking the lead in maintaining alliances, or in building regional and global institutions that set the rules for how international relations are conducted.

    This is an almost verbatim quote or viewpoint of many of the extreme right, and even Senators like McCain and Graham during the Obama Admin. That they seem unable or just plain unwilling to acknowledge the systematic dismantling of our diplomatic corps and the hollowing out of the State Department speaks volumes to their view of America in a globally connected world.

    I understand the need to defend "America First" and I agree that there have been times when we have not done that on the world stage, but America is stronger when she is not going it alone and has partners in the fight. Partners who will proudly stand by you in a time of need.

    More than anything else globally, that is what we are sacrificing as we complement and embrace leaders like Duterte and Putin and criticize and hold at a distance leaders like May and Merkel.

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    1. Exactly Dave.

      It is the POTUS's obligation and responsibilty to defend and protect America and her interests. Standing, or going it alone in fact places the USA at greater risk than developing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with our trading partnes and military allies. Everyone with a modicum of common sense and intelligence understands this.

      Trump is not a man to be trusted. He is egocentric and this extends to his worldview. He is a man who is concerned only with winning and has no regard to how a loss may affect others he has dealing with, nor does he care. In a position such as Trump holds the results of his actions could produce dire negative consequences.

      America elected an astonishingly immature and emotionally ill equipped individual to lead the nation.

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    2. One of the problems with Trump is that he is not interested in “the obligation and responsibility to defend and protect America and her interests”. His interest is to defend and protect his own interests, and no one else’s.

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  2. Remember during the campaign when he knew more than the generals? We're now seeing the logical extension of that belief.

    America unmoored from its historic and traditional allies at a time when Russia is rebounding and China is becoming an economic powerhouse. Where are our alliances to act as counterweight to these realities?

    On trade we are retreating, not strengthening necessary alliances. On defense, we've basically told NATO to pound sand. And then across the globe, we've told others, Japan is a good example, you might consider nuclear weapons because we're kinda busy right now.

    This is not strategy... it's schoolyard BS designed to make the instigator feel good.

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  3. What all this is doing is accelerating "the rise of the rest". Since the US has become unreliable, Europe and Japan are having to consider how to maintain their security more independently (against Russia and China/North Korea respectively) instead of relying on the US. There must be some very interesting discussions going on behind closed doors. Japan is already building a close alliance with India (another rival of China) and some leaders there are starting to think about building an independent nuclear deterrent. Such moves could lead to a total overhaul of the global balance of power we've had since 1945.

    Thing is, such an upheaval will be permanent, outlasting Trump. If Germany and Japan build powerful military forces and alliances to contain Russia and China, they won't dismantle them in 2020 just because the US elects a sane President. Combined with the deteriorating US relative position in technology, education, infrastructure, and so on, this is an abdication of the whole US leadership role.

    I suspect that by sometime around 2030 it will become accepted conventional wisdom that the leadership of the free world has passed to Japan and perhaps Germany. This would probably have happened anyway, but Trump's legacy will be to have accelerated the shift.

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  4. Infidel... are you reading Communist literature? Socialist authors? Hahaha

    I saw that term, "Rise of the rest" in Zakaria's article recently.

    I love his point... American Power is not diminishing. American Influence is on the wane because of our retreat.

    But hey, we're winning right? And countries respect way more, perhaps historically more than ever, especially more than during the Obama Admin. At least that's what mind numbed bloggers and presidents are saying...

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  5. All great nation states rise, become influencial and powerful, and eventually receed and become rather inconsequential. History surely has documented this.

    Why would we think America will be any different?

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    Replies
    1. It has never been a question of whether or not the US influence and power will wane. The only question was when would it happen. I think that Trump has finally answered that question and the answer is NOW!

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    2. Trump, just the "man" to sit atop America's decline. Who knows, maybe he'll be called America's Nero in the history books.

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