CWA Commentary

Photo Source:
   NIAS Course on Global Politics
National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS)
Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore
For any further information or to subscribe to GP alerts send an email to subachandran@nias.res.in
Print Bookmark

CWA # 32, 26 June 2018

United States
Looking beyond Trump: Is the US declining?

  Hely Desai

Though China is catching up they still have a long way to go. America has built a sound and compelling relationships in Europe and Asia. These alliances will not fade away anytime soon

School of Liberal Studies, PDPU, Gandhinagar & Research Intern, National Institute of Advanced Studies, IISc (Bengaluru)  

President Trump has been making headlines with the withdrawal from the Paris treaty, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the G7 summit, and the UNHRC. The political chaos made the United States seem rudderless on Iran and Syria to give an impression that the end of American eminence is finally upon us.

With the impending rise of new world powers and an ever-growing list of problems at home, many perceive the United States to have lost its way. Along with the rise of Trump and his inward policy of “Make America Great Again”, declinists believe America is no longer a global Big Brother to its allies.

Is the United States losing its power to influence global decisions? Is the Trump era just a phase? Is the United States on a virtual decline?

The analysis on the subject lacks both content and context. To take the debate about American declination away from discretionary and biased claims, an indisputable criterion needs to be postulated. Also, one of the primary criteria that counts in international relations is a comparison: How does the United States hold up as compared to other powers?

Despite what declinists say, America still holds a credible influence in global affairs. Rising economy and staunch military power are its priceless assets.

America has headed a prosperous and democratic international order when juxtaposed in line with other international orders the world has known. Its eminence in maintaining such an order can be backed by its unparalleled hard power and the distinctive manner in which the Office has milked that strength.

In this day and age, as the exasperating geopolitical and geo-economic competition envelopes the world order, America categorically sustains its stand as the world’s distinguished power.

 

Trump Era: Just a Phase?

Will President Trump’s new approach to old problems ever transform America’s standing for the better?

Trump prefers to dawdle on the raw-realist ‘might is right’ ideology. His impulses may begin to impose a new geopolitics.

A reason for American fallout by the declinists is the isolation policy of Trump. The infamous withdrawal from the G7 summit or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Trump’s impulsive policies have always made headlines but are just a pit stop in the American trail.

But the idea of isolationism is not downsizing. It is differentiating its allegiant responsibilities and national interest. Isolation hence is not abandoning an international role, but implementing inward-benefiting policies and tracing well-defined political strategy.

In spite of the shortcomings of the Trump administration, America has its own problems. It is wary of being a global watchdog, thwarted by jihadists and rogue states, and apprehensive by the thriving contest from China.

The US economy at present is flourishing steadily when compared to the economy during Obama’s period, which greatly concentrated on overcoming the ‘great recession’ of the 2000s. The tax reform, Trump's primary economic priority, has been put in place and already displays visible outcomes in the form of accelerated growth, investment inflows and new job creation.

US leadership has mattered greatly since it has always played ‘big brother’ to its allies when it comes to international security, re-establishing the faith on American commitments as a global guardian. Leadership mainly depends on substantial material capacity, and America’s economic and military advantages have portrayed the hard-power pillars of its international part.

 

Patterns of Decline:

Americans have a tendency to constantly self-examine and regenerate. Even before the Trump Era, declinists cherry-picked data to show China gaining a greater share of the global economy at America’s expense. The US has periodically undergone crisis and bounced back. Come the Vietnam Decade of the 1960s, to the Malaise Era of President Jimmy Carter in 1970s, followed by Resurgent Japan in 1980s to the great economic recession of 2000s and the Trump Era, America has regenerated its identity from time to time.

American policymakers have analyzed and transformed the international community by devising institutions and arrangements meant to benefit not just the United States but also countries around the world. By forming military alliances that played security in central regions, stressing international as well as national financial conditions, and providing freedom of the seas and leadership in addressing global challenges, the United States attempted to create a thriving world in which America could symbiotically flourish.

 

Why does the world need America?

The American leadership and power have been sustaining the world economic order through the years. It has been a global power with international interests. The United States has had a disproportionate share of the workings of global institutions, factored differences among nations, and provided a global reserve currency, an open trade regime, and vigorous economic growth. Today, the leadership is again required. And it has to be American. Nascent economies favour free-ride rather than take responsibility in global governance, while Europe and Japan are neither able nor willing to lead. There are no evident substitutes for US leadership. The quintessential question is not whether America can lead; it is that whether world now, needs constant tending to, like during the post — Cold War times. But the United States must self-improve at home to lead overseas. Fiscal discipline, cuts in taxes and red tape on American businesses, and a lock on long-term policies that harness the productivity of America’s next generations and newcomers are needed. Multilateral and bilateral policies and instruments need to be ascended and aligned overseas, in order to alter instability and renew the drive to integrate the world economy.

Though China is catching up they still have a long way to go. America has built  sound and compelling relationships in Europe and Asia. These alliances will not fade away anytime soon unless something goes inexplicably wrong with their countries. They may have tumbled down the mountain a little but the US is still the king of the hill.

Print Bookmark

Other CWA Publications

NIAS Fortnightly on Science, Technology and International Relations (STIR)
August 2022 | CWA # 777

Monkeypox: Mapping the outbreak and addressing misconceptions

read more
NIAS Fortnightly on Science, Technology and International Relations (STIR)
August 2022 | CWA # 776

STIR Team

Ukraine-Russia War: A Politicised International Space Station, Heatwaves in Europe, and UN Ocean Conference 2022

read more
The World This Week
August 2022 | CWA # 775

GP Team

Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, Sri Lanka's appeal to the IMF and Amnesty's report on Ukraine's Human Rights Violation

read more
NIAS Europe Studies
August 2022 | CWA # 774

Padmashree Anandhan

Who will be the next UK prime minister: Liss Truss v. Rishi Sunak

read more
Conflict Weekly
August 2022 | CWA # 773

IPRI Team

Zawahiri's killing, Pope's apology to the indigenous people in Canada, Iraq's political crisis, and Senegal's disputed elections

read more
NIAS Africa Weekly
August 2022 | CWA # 772

NIAS Africa Team

IN FOCUS | Tunisia's political crisis

read more
The World This Week
July 2022 | CWA # 771

GP Team

Taiwan and Biden-Xi conversation, and a controversial referendum in Tunisia

read more
NIAS Europe Studies
July 2022 | CWA # 770

Padmashree Anandhan

Will Russia's latest attack on the Odessa port, undermine the grain deal with Ukraine?

read more
NIAS Africa Studies
July 2022 | CWA # 769

NIAS Africa Team

Tunisia’s political crisis: Five questions

read more
NIAS China Reader
July 2022 | CWA # 768

Avishka Ashok

The Biden-Xi phone call and the underlying tensions in bilateral relations

read more
NIAS Africa Weekly
July 2022 | CWA # 766

NIAS Africa Team

Tribal conflict in Blue Nile: Causes and Implications

read more
NIAS Fortnightly on Science, Technology and International Relations
July 2022 | CWA # 765

STIR Team

China: Achieving viability in Generation IV Nuclear Reactors

read more
NIAS Fortnightly on Science, Technology and International Relations
July 2022 | CWA # 764

STIR Team

Mount Everest: The international race for the world's highest weather station

read more
NIAS Fortnightly on Science, Technology and International Relations
July 2022 | CWA # 763

STIR Team

Geopolitics of Semiconductors

read more
NIAS Europe Studies
July 2022 | CWA # 762

Padmashree Anandhan

France: Uber files leak, and Macron’s trouble

read more
NIAS Europe Studies
July 2022 | CWA # 761

Emmanuel Selva Royan

Italy: Three factors about its current political instability

read more

Click below links for year wise archive
2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018