Many a people have at times or in some cases regularly been angry at America’s bellicosity, smugness, unnecessary international intrusions, wars and its capitalist agenda which became unbearable after the fall of the soviet. Some may silently be feeling happy with USA’s deteriorating status and power in the world. But despite all its flaws, American power on the world stage is still necessary and comforting as the world now enters a state of multilateral power.
The United States has been dominating and throwing its weight around the world for a long time. Its agencies are often engaged in funding coups and influencing world leaders to keep them within axis of power. A great deal of this is for access to resources and fear of losing its eminent position in the world pecking order. Undoubtedly its actions annoy some and has destroyed local communities in some regions such as the Middle East.
Perhaps there is a deep sense of insecurity within USA often seen in evangelists or an insatiable appetite for power and money that drives its ambition to remain the pre eminent and only global force.
The United States, however, does stand for some values which are shared by many people across the world. These include democracy, liberties and human rights among others. Whatever US does, it tries to cloak it within the ideology of democracy, rule of law, freedoms and human rights. Cynical as the world may be, there is still the fact that when there is good administration in USA, these values are strengthened around the world.
The US has also been the main guarantor of the United Nations, despite its occasional threats to change it, take off a few floors of its offices or even dismantle it. The UN has provided stability in an otherwise warring world. Without US finances, the UN could become even less effective than it is currently.
The United States has provided a dependability and leadership, at least to the western world and those countries and communities that cherish democracy and human rights. Although, unashamedly, the US has also supported non democratic regimes around the world, particularly in Middle East, which creates conflicts about its commitment to democracy. The US defends these in interest of stability and the hope that these regimes will gradually change. The Neocons had apparently started a crusade to overhaul the political system in the Middle East when they embarked on the Iraq War.
If the US becomes weaker and weaker, the balance of power will shift to China or Russia or both and possibly other emerging powers. These alternatives are even less attractive than the USA.
China does not hide behind any ideological burka to justify actions to secure its interests. It has an eastern approach to ideas, beliefs and worldviews. Unlike the west, China is not driven by any burning ‘divine’ mission to make the world in its own image. Like other eastern philosophies such as those from India and Far East, China takes a pluralistic approach to worldviews. It has its system and lets others be, whatever their customs or however good or bad they are. It has no ‘evangelistic’ creed to redeem the world of ‘evil’ or bad habits or false beliefs (political systems).
While the Chinese approach has advantages in that it does not engage in unnecessary wars to make the world a ‘better’ place, it has its dangers. China is a hungry country now, in need of resources, or feeding the appetite of its people with more consumable goods etc. It is also aware of western obsession with ideological crusades concealing desires for hegemony.
If it becomes a sole superpower, China is more likely to invade others and make a victor’s claim to resources if it cannot access them through trade deals. It is also likely to attack nearby countries to defend itself against western ideological expansionism. In doing so, China is unlikely to respect human rights, political rights of the conquered or accept the idea of liberties.
Moreover, while China may contribute to humanitarian causes, it is not a civilization driven by the need to ensure human dignity, equality and freedoms in other parts of the world. Hence, the compact that the United Nations was built on, will start falling apart and the hope that the UN gives millions of people for a better future will be drained from its essence. A world in which China is the only superpower will be a dangerous world, even more than the current one.
There is of course the third superpower, Russia. Russia has got back on its feet and is insidiously destabilising some western countries. It is an aggressive power that has learnt new tricks to make its presence known. It is considered by many to have been the architect of the Trump victory in USA, much as that seems an extraordinary claim to make. That it interfered in the USA elections to influence the outcome is now believed by many Americans and is the object of serious investigation. The investigation itself has made the USA weaker, to Russia’s advantage. Furthermore the Trump presidency has made the USA almost inconsequential in international affairs. Countries are beginning to ignore America.
Russia has a bipolar political system. It is both a democracy and a dictatorship of sorts run by Oligarchs. It is no longer obsessed with communism or spreading socialism around the world as the Soviet was. It is driven by self interests and a desire to rise to world superpower status again. It is also more likely to engage in a form of semi colonialism, both for resources and to remain powerful.
A world in which only Russia and China are the most powerful countries does not inspire confidence in a better future. The ideas that have been the foundation of twentieth century will not survive if the United States continues to become weaker.
This is why, despite its excesses, and its madnesses of electing the likes of Trump to the presidency, the world will be a better place if the USA remains a formidable superpower counterbalancing the other two. Perhaps the current balance of power in the world is the best recipe for a better future with an idealist America, a non-judgmental China and an aggressive Russia to keep each other in their place. This triple lock of forces of power might push back the intrusive nature of USA and the west, at the same time American power will keep China and Russia in their place, while China will continue to show that it is possible to extend influence without toppling governments or going to war.
This is not a return of the cold war as many have been saying. There is a third power in the equation now. The world is now balancing on a tripod of power with each pillar dependent as well as competing with the other two. If one falls the other two may well send the world back into the era of cold war with multiple proxy wars. Countries no longer can be bullied by one or having to choose between two, but have a triangular three dimensional playfield to swing in.
2018 may well turn out to be the start of a better world sitting on a tripod. A tripod never appears as safe as a four legged stool, but lot safer than a two legged chair. True there are quite a few conflicts still going on, but as the these powers begin to recognize their limits and the strengths of others, chances are that proxy wars for hegemony will become less.