The USA’s Place in the World in 2016?

I posted earlier some excerpts from Daniel Drezner’s article envisioning what a post-Bush administration American foreign policy may look like, In a similar vein, here are some snippets from a piece in the New York Times Magazine written by Parag Khanna* that try to predict the nature of US power and authority at the end of 2016. The article is entitled “Waving Goodbye to Hegemony.” Do you think that the United States will lose its hegemonic status by 2016? What about the challenges from an integrated Europe and a rising China? I encourage you to read the whole article. If we have time, we will read this at the end of the semester.

But the distribution of power in the world has fundamentally altered over the two presidential terms of George W. Bush, both because of his policies and, more significant, despite them. Maybe the best way to understand how quickly history happens is to look just a bit ahead.

It is 2016, and the Hillary Clinton or John McCain or Barack Obama administration is nearing the end of its second term. America has pulled out of Iraq but has about 20,000 troops in the independent state of Kurdistan, as well as warships anchored at Bahrain and an Air Force presence in Qatar. Afghanistan is stable; Iran is nuclear. China has absorbed Taiwan and is steadily increasing its naval presence around the Pacific Rim and, from the Pakistani port of Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea. The European Union has expanded to well over 30 members and has secure oil and gas flows from 27world3-450.jpgNorth Africa, Russia and the Caspian Sea, as well as substantial nuclear energy. America’s standing in the world remains in steady decline.

Why? Weren’t we supposed to reconnect with the United Nations and reaffirm to the world that America can, and should, lead it to collective security and prosperity? Indeed, improvements to America’s image may or may not occur, but either way, they mean little. Condoleezza Rice has said America has no “permanent enemies,” but it has no permanent friends either. Many saw the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as the symbols of a global American imperialism; in fact, they were signs of imperial overstretch. Every expenditure has weakened America’s armed forces, and each assertion of power has awakened resistance in the form of terrorist networks, insurgent groups and “asymmetric” weapons like suicide bombers. America’s unipolar moment has inspired diplomatic and financial countermovements to block American bullying and construct an alternate world order. That new global order has arrived, and there is precious little Clinton or McCain or Obama could do to resist its growth.

Remember that when I post snippets from articles, that in no way suggests that I agree with what the author is saying. I alert you to them mostly because they introduce or mention concepts, theories and ideas that we discuss in class and also to show you get you to think critically about claims and assertions made by the author(s). To which theory of international relations do you think the author is an adherent? Why? What evidence in this article can you find to support your assertion?

*Parag Khanna is a senior research fellow in the American Strategy Program of the New America Foundation. This essay is adapted from his book, “The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order,” to be published by Random House in March.

Advertisements