Significant Changes in Geopolitical World Order: US’ Decline from Dominating Global Power Stature
Significant Changes in Geopolitical World Order: US’
Decline from Dominating Global Power Stature
Brigadier (Retd.) Dr. Ahsanur Rahman Khan
Decline of US’ Dominating Global Power Stature
Reports about the serious problems currently faced by US due to two factors – Covid-19’s human and economic devastation; and massive racial upheaval – are getting adequate media coverage. However, the aspects which are not much highlighted by media are (a) the actual negative potential of these two factors in severely degrading US’ national power potential; (b) the third and equally significant factor i.e. the clearly discernible serious disruption of the decades–old US–European Union (EU) defence, economic, and geopolitical partnership; and (c) other indications of decline of US’ geopolitical dominance in international arena.
A thorough and holistic grasp of all these factors/indications clearly bring to fore the fact that US’ dominating global power stature is seriously declining; thereby ensuing in its wake significant changes in the geopolitical world order.
Covid-19’s Human and Economic Devastation; and Racial Upheaval
Since the damages inflicted by the two mentioned factors are generally known, suffices it to mention that:-
- Human devastation in US is not yet showing signs of decreasing – according to 3rd of this month’s data, Covid-19 cases were as high as 2,856,582 and deaths were 131,694 (1); besides that about 50,000 fresh cases are being reported in each 24 hours. Extremely damaging socio-economic effects of such massive human devastation can well be imagined;
- Closure of business, job losses and the resulting unemployment is so massive that, according to a research–based analysis report by VOX CEPR Policy Portal, even by May this year, thirty million Americans had filed for unemployment (2);
- It is also significant to note that according to World Economic Forum report “It could take three years for the US economy to recover from COVID-19” (3).
- As for the racial upheaval, the alarming aspect is that after the brutal killing of an under custody black man by US’ White policemen, the huge “Black Lives Matter” protests have taken the form of a movement, which according to the 3rd of this month’s report by The New York Times “may be the largest movement in US’ history”. The report also highlighted that: “Four recent polls —– suggest that about 15 million to 26 million people in the United States have participated in demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and others in recent weeks”; “More than 40 percent of counties in the United States — at least 1,360 — have had a protest”; and “Across the United States, there have been more than 4,700 demonstrations, or an average of 140 per day, since the first protests began in Minneapolis on May 26”. (4)
Key Issues of Serious Disruption of US-EU Partnership
Since media publications at times highlight the terminology Trans Atlantic Partnership (or transatlantic partnership), it is worth clarifying in the outset that this term also (for most part) basically denotes US-EU Partnership. That clarification is also provided in the summary of US Congressional Research Service paper which mentions “Due to extensive cooperation on a wide range of issues, the relationship between the United States and Europe is often called the transatlantic partnership” (5).
As well known US-Europe partnership commenced after World War 2 mainly to form a defence alliance against the possible military threat from Russia/Soviet Union (USSR) – subsequently in the form of NATO vs. Warsaw Pact. US’ troops and military wherewithal were also placed in some European countries for that purpose, with an understanding of sharing the budget of such US’ military deployments by those countries. Subsequently, US–European counties (later, EU)’s partnership also expanded to include mutual trade and economic investments at a massive scale; thus the US–EU partnership got developed into the most formidable geopolitical, geo-economic, and geostrategic global power bloc.
It is highly significant that while studying the US–EU relations two aspects, which are usually overlooked, must be kept in mind: i.e. (a) the raison d’être of forming this US–EU alliance was Europe’s defence against possible military threat from USSR; and (b) the strong whole-hearted geopolitical and geostrategic support of EU to US in world affairs has always been the major component of US’ dominating global power potential.
However, since some years now relations between EU and US have been getting seriously strained. There are many publications covering the reasons for that. One such publication of much credence is the article written by David Whineray. He is most qualified to comment in this regard because he specializes in European, transatlantic, US, UN and multilateral affairs; previously held a number of senior positions in the UK and EU diplomatic devices; has also served in 10 Downing Street, the European Parliament in Brussels, and at the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations in New York; has been a Visiting Senior Fellow at the United Nations University Center for Policy Research in New York and UC Berkeley; and now he is a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington (6).
David Whineray has highlighted that:-
“Five issues in particular risk driving apart the U.S. and the EU over the 2020s, regardless of the person sitting in the Oval Office.
“First, tensions over defense spending. Nestled under the U.S. security blanket, Europeans are likely to continue to spend less than Washington wants. U.S. frustrations with low European defense spending didn’t start with the Trump administration, and will outlast him too. Indeed, tensions could increase if a future president were to decide to cut U.S. defense spending and demand that Europeans fill the gap. Similarly, trade tensions will not necessarily decrease under a new administration, either”.
“Second are tensions with China. While Republican and Democratic attitudes to Beijing have hardened, Europeans — mindful of their growing economic equities — will remain reluctant to choose between their security relations with the U.S. and growing trade and investment relations with China, aggravating Washington”.
“Third, U.S. interest in Europe — a product of the dominance of the Cold War in U.S. foreign policy — will continue to decline this decade. As others have argued, the new Cold War is with China. The focus of U.S. foreign policy of any future administration will be the Pacific, not the Atlantic”.
“Fourth, as other powers rise, the United States’s ability to police the world will ebb, and will be constrained by a weary America public. As French President Emmanuel Macron has started to do, Europeans will reach out to others — including Russia and China — in response”.
“Finally, whether on Iran or climate change, Europeans have gotten accustomed to disagreeing with the U.S. over the last few years in a way that would have been unthinkable under previous administrations. This genie won’t just go back in the bottle. Even if the next president recommits to the EU, Europeans now know a future U.S. president could always revert back again to a Trumpian approach; they will hedge accordingly”.
With these very insightful and precise inferred findings, David Whineray has also opined in the beginning of his article that “Without corrective action, the United States and Europe will drift further apart over the 2020s, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office”. However, about the possible corrective actions/steps he has also lamented that “Unfortunately, few of these steps currently look likely. Until that changes, Europeans should stop deluding themselves that transatlantic tensions will just magically disappear after Trump. Without action, the Atlantic may get wider, not smaller, over the next decade — whatever the electoral outcome in November”. (7)
Latest Indicators of US-EU Rift Resulting in Decline of US’ Dominating Global Power Stature
As well known, by now Germany and France have emerged as geopolitically and geo-economically more powerful countries in EU. It is worth noting that the latest reports reflecting the policy mindset of the governments of these two countries clearly support the above-mentioned inferences (Second and Fourth) drawn by David Whineray – i.e. not hesitating to work with other powers/countries (including China and Russia) to serve their countries’ national interests, even if such actions politically drift their countries farther away from alliance with US.
Some extracts of the recent reports relating to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which confirm this fact, are:-
“The US may voluntarily relinquish its status as a world power and Europeans must brace themselves for such a contingency, including by boosting their militaries, the German chancellor has warned”; “The German leader stopped short of advocating a joint EU military force, the idea favored by French President Emmanuel Macron”.
“China has become a global player. That makes us partners in economic cooperation and combating climate change, but also competitors with very different political systems, she said”. “The same is true for Russia, the country that the US sees as its other strategic rival. Berlin needs to remain engaged with Moscow despite all issues in their bilateral relations”.
“In countries like Syria and Libya, countries in Europe’s immediate neighbourhood, Russia’s strategic influence is great, Merkel explained. I will therefore continue to strive for cooperation.” (8)
Similar views expressed by German Foreign Minister were:-
“The days of the good old ‘transatlantic partnership’ have passed, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has admitted, adding that even the Democrats returning to power is unlikely to automatically bring those days back”.
“Anyone, who believes that the transatlantic partnership will once again be what it once was with a Democratic president, underestimates the structural changes, the minister told German news agency dpa, hinting that relations between the two allies will never be the same even without President Donald Trump at the helm in Washington”.
“Washington also repeatedly clashed with Berlin over the fate of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline – a project supported by Germany that the US seemingly sought to bring down at any cost” (9).
The views expressed by French President Emmanuel Macron were more explicit:-
About NATO, “French president Emmanuel Macron has told The Economist that the alliance is experiencing its brain death, while warning European countries that they can no longer rely on America to defend its allies”.
“The US-led military bloc “only works if the guarantor of last resort functions as such,” the French leader noted: “I’d argue that we should reassess the reality of what NATO is in the light of the commitment of the United States.”
“Macron said that Washington is “turning its back on us,” a move which was demonstrated by the pull-out of American troops from northeastern Syria and the abandonment of their Kurdish allies there”.
“Europe, meanwhile, Macron argued, stands on “the edge of a precipice,” and will “no longer be in control of our destiny,” unless it starts behaving like a geopolitical power. To do so, Europe should regain “military sovereignty” and continue to maintain dialogue with Moscow”.
“Macron has been pushing for the European Union and Western countries to revise their roles in the world and to adapt to new global realities. In August, he said that “Western hegemony” is over and that it would be a mistake to try to isolate Russia”. (10)
The aforementioned published data, credible inferences drawn by authentic scholars, and published reports reflecting the new policy inclinations of the two most important EU countries (Germany and France) bring to fore the undeniable facts that:-
- With the breakup of USSR, US–EU partnership had lost the very raison d’être of forming this partnership. Despite being no such military threat from Russia, the concerned EU members continued to share the budget for US’ ‘protective’ military deployment in their countries. However since last some years their public and governments have become unwilling to continue paying for that unnecessary expenditure – thereby clearly defying the hitherto arrogantly dominating US’ policy attitude.
- For the last about three decades governments of the EU countries, because of their membership of NATO, had accepted to participate in US’ ‘endless’ wars under NATO (which served only US’ interests); but now public and governments of these countries have clearly signaled their intentions of not participating in such US’ ‘militarism’
- The seriously damaged and depleted US’ economy is least likely to recover before another about three years (the aforementioned report of World Economic Forum). US’ economy is more likely to deplete further due to US’ unnecessarily getting at loggerheads with economically much advanced China. Besides that the fact, that major EU countries have already started leaning towards China and Russia for economic cooperation, will add further to depletion of US’ economy.
All these facts clearly show that with the marked military, economic, and geopolitical distancing of important EU countries from the US–EU partnership, US has already lost the major component of its global geopolitical power clout; and will lose it further due to its depleted economy. US’ serious decline from dominating global power stature is therefore a reality, and is likely to gradually increase further; ensuing in its wake emergence of new geopolitical power blocs in the international arena.