Finding Our Niche in Global Politics
There is something in common between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the post-World War II economic expansion, and the current, covert drone strikes in Pakistan.
Much of the driving force behind each was the raw influence of United States hegemony; the dominance of America in the world and its massive role in deciding global policy. Hegemony is the use of our economy and military power to influence other countries – the role of which is changing in today’s world of globalization and multilateral institutions. The American hegemony of yesterday is waning; we must maintain our relative global competitiveness to sustain of our economic influence, but also abolish the outdated mindset of American exceptionalism in order to better cooperate with other rising powers. A consensus among experts show that American hegemony is declining, while several other countries are growing and claiming certain influences of their own. According to Leon Hadar, a Cato Institute researcher and fellow in foreign-policy studies, “Assumptions about US omnipotence are woefully out of touch with reality. The mess the Bush administration made in the Middle East, where US military power was overstretched to the maximum, coupled with the dramatic loss of American financial resources, has produced a long-term transformation in the balance of power in the region and worldwide.
The confluence of these negative factors has significantly eroded Washington’s diplomatic and political clout.” The reduction in America’s economic resources, as well as the failure of hegemonic influence to create significant change in the Middle East, indicates the drop in our influence. The overstretching of our military and political influence to places such as Vietnam and Yemen (drone strikes) has been devastating. China’s economic growth per year has averaged nearly 10% the last few decades, while American growth in a variety of sector has remained slow or even stagnant. China still has a long way to go before reaching America’s global status, yet we definitely must consider China has potential hegemon, if it isn’t already. The amount of power the US has nowadays is decreasing, while other countries, such as China continue to propel themselves forward rapidly.
China’s growth and our declining hegemony certainly doesn’t mean we can’t improve our leadership. The key to American foreign relations and stability in the long run is to increase our global competitiveness in terms of domestic living standards and economy. The weak recovery of the economy as well as several structural domestic problems can be fixed. First, investing in transportation infrastructure is a must. Matthew J. Slaughter, Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research; a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, elaborates, “Historically, one of the key foundations of US competitiveness has been infrastructure.
U.S. airports, bridges, electrical grid, ports, railroads, roads, and water systems have long facilitated the flow of people, goods, and idea that has built American jobs and rising standards of living.” In addition to stimulating the economy, infrastructure would raise the quality of life for our citizens, increasing our economic leadership. Government spending on wasteful programs must be reined in; Medicare and Medicaid will have to be cut to sustainable levels. Structural problems with education also should be reformed.
Student loans should be made more reasonable. The list goes on and on, but it is clear that we it is possible to recover some of our international competitiveness in various areas. We cannot see developing countries or growing economies as “challengers” or “threats” to US hegemony. Acceptance and consequent cooperation with other countries is essential when formulating the new American hegemonic role today. Hegemony simply isn’t sustainable – it will decline, even with the US.
From Eric Edelman ( Distinguished Fellow at Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment), ” By 2025 the international system will be a global multipolar one with gaps in national power continuing to narrow between developed and developing countries.” Multipolarity is the existence of no prominent country, but rather, a collection of nations each with no dominant grasp on the world. This is what we are inevitably transitioning into. China and the European Union must be seen as partners in an effort to eliminate global problems facing all nations: terrorism, AIDS, and the growing danger of climate change. For example, instead of trying to suppress China geopolitically, America should provide them with green technology and aid their industrial growth.
Thus, we prevent transition wars or any global instability. By allowing the transition to multipolarity to be peaceful and beneficial for all, the US must welcome rising economies as coworkers in a world workplace where the issues at hand affect us all. The American influence of the old century is coming to an end; a new transition is arriving. Where will we be in this new world? What is the United States of America’s niche in a changing ecosystem of globalization and tangled, confused concepts of sovereignty? These are questions that we need to answer with policies that improve our domestic situation and see the world in a new view – a world where the US does not have to be the foremost, best, most powerful imperialist nation.