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A CHANGED WORLD FOR THE US? November 15, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Humankind/Planet Earth, US Politics.
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Andrew Bacevich argues that the US is a declining global power. He identifies four vectors that taken together reflect a change since the ascent of US influence following the Second World War. The international order, he suggests, “is arguably undergoing a fundamental transition”.

Firstly, the strategic purpose of the war on terror, associated with the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan which was to remake the Middle East has failed. And, as Tom Englehardt points out it has been a costly failure. Unbelievable amounts of money in the order of trillion or more dollars was spent, with the Americans withdrawing in ignominy from Iraq, although the crimes committed have gone unpublished. The same will be true for Afghanistan.Military violence has failed, although the drone murders continue.

Economic dominance translates into political and military influence around the world but the economic recession in the US now is permanent. The skewering of wealth to the few has happened before but the decline in living standards and levels of unemployment have become a feature of American life. These conditions have created the climate for the Occupy Wall Street Movement. To this point there does not seem to have been a decline in Pentagon funding, although it predictable that component of the budget will be increasingly subject to scrutiny if not by the major political parties.

The Arab Spring is, Andrew Bacevich suggests, continuing as a movement for Arab liberation. This development can be placed in the context of the formation of the modern Middle East to cater for the interests in the first place of the European Powers and then the US. The US has supported dictators in the area to further its strategic purposes, mainly to secure and protect the supply of oil.The Arab Spring is sweeping away the vestiges of imperialism.

Lastly, he notes how extraordinary it is that Europe is looking to China for financial salvation and not the US. China has the money and the US is in debt to China. Much like the Americans, the Europeans have got into financial trouble due to recklessness and irresponsibility.

These vectors of change are more interrelated that is acknowledged in this analysis. The problem for the exercise of American power and influence is the failure to recognize the new circumstances, a failure of policy reality that can be seen in the rhetoric of most Republican candidates for president.

Much like as in Australia public opinion in the US trails strategic and economic reality. Politicians there, as here, play to the gallery created by opinion polls framed in the absence of a institutionalized political debate. The stationing of US Marines in a Darwin base suggests a strategic US withdrawal from East Asia in recognition of an increased Chinese military capacity. China is otherwise our most important trading partner, as well as the largest holder of US debt.

In this issue there is evidence, that Andrew Bacevich refers to of the change in the order of power and prerogative. In The Sydney Morning Herald, Peter Hatcher writes: “We are an ally, not an accomplice.” In the past not Australian Government has failed to be both. Perhaps the times have now changed.

ELSEWHERE

Gary at Public Opinion questions the identity of interests between Australia and the US.

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