The Incredible Shrinking Superpower

Critical policy failures, China’s new belligerence and a pervasive weakness in US foreign policy spell the end of America’s global dominance Commentary Are America’s days as a global superpower over? It sure looks that way at the moment. Actually, it’s looked that way for the past year or so. Under the current administration, the U.S. influence in the world is rapidly decreasing. The United States is subjected to events more than being involved in positively shaping them and optimizing outcomes. From Ukraine and Western Europe, to Afghanistan, Australia, China, Taiwan, and Japan, unclear policies have undercut its credibility. Ukraine on the Brain What is it with those in Washington of the Ukraine invasion persuasion? By hyping the “imminent Russian invasion” that for weeks has been neither, the United States is looking like geopolitical amateurs, not the global leader it has been for the past seven decades. Why the big campaign about Russian President Vladimir Putin invading Ukraine? He may do so, but he may not. The reality is that bringing Ukraine into NATO’s orbit is of little value and actually destabilizes the region. It ignores the geographic and historical realities that Ukraine will always be in Russia’s orbit. This makes conflict more likely, not less. What’s more, the United States made it clear that no military response was on the table—no matter what Russia did, or did not do, with regard to Ukraine. Thus, the United States undercut its own leadership and the foundation of NATO security by announcing that it would not militarily defend Ukraine against Russian aggression. Why join NATO and anger Russia if there’s no defense benefit from doing so? At this juncture, Kyiv understands that Washington isn’t helping and has put Ukraine in an uneasy position vis-à-vis Russia. Kyiv now realizes that, when push comes to shove, Washington will not militarily defend Ukraine. Civilians participate in a Kyiv Territorial Defense unit training session in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Jan. 29, 2022. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images) Meanwhile, Russia has been able to dismiss the whole invasion hype by the United States as propaganda hand wringing from the Biden administration. Putin has stated that the military games in neighboring Belarus are now over and that his forces will return to Russia. It’s almost as if the United States wants Russia to invade Ukraine—even if it’s only “a minor” one—as an opportunity for the current president to appear somewhat presidential going into the 2022 election cycle. If so, it has had the opposite effect. Europeans Skeptical of US Protection and Leadership The United States has added to its Afghanistan and Ukraine missteps with its diplomatic and strategic mistakes regarding Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. If U.S. and NATO aims were to minimize Russian influence, why approve the pipeline and give Russia more influence over Germany, NATO’s largest European member, and others? Thus, with the Russia-Ukraine crisis, threatening to use the pipeline as leverage by denying its use to Russia is problematic. It potentially punishes Germany more than Russia because Russia has yet to benefit from the pipeline, while Germany relies on Russian energy. The combination of an anti-Russian NATO and Germany’s reliance on Russian energy, with a lack of coherent U.S. leadership, is splitting the Western alliance more than anything Putin has done. This lack of vision has resulted in a clear diminishment of NATO’s clout and a potentially irretrievable loss of American prestige on the world stage. Like Ukraine, most Europeans simply don’t believe the United States has the power or the will to live up to its responsibility as leader of NATO. To that point, Washington is doing little to halt Europeans’ perspective that Germany is a more reliable partner than the United States. New US Administration Gets Baked in Alaska This rapid decline in U.S. influence didn’t begin in Europe, of course. It began in, of all places, Alaska. It was at a hastily arranged meeting between the United States and China that Beijing’s most senior foreign policy official, Yang Jiechi, said in clearly belligerent terms that America can’t “speak from a position of strength” when criticizing China. Yang Jiechi (R), director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office for China, and Wang Yi (L), China’s Foreign Minister, arrive for a meeting with U.S. counterparts at the opening session of U.S.-China talks at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska, on March 18, 2021. (Frederick J. Brown/Pool/AFP via Getty Images) The United States was caught off guard by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) belligerence and its new tone of China superiority, but did little to counter Beijing’s assertion. The Impact of US Withdrawal From Afghanistan But it was the hasty and disgraceful U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan that cast the dark shadow over America’s military will and strategic resolve.

The Incredible Shrinking Superpower

Critical policy failures, China’s new belligerence and a pervasive weakness in US foreign policy spell the end of America’s global dominance

Commentary

Are America’s days as a global superpower over?

It sure looks that way at the moment. Actually, it’s looked that way for the past year or so.

Under the current administration, the U.S. influence in the world is rapidly decreasing. The United States is subjected to events more than being involved in positively shaping them and optimizing outcomes.

From Ukraine and Western Europe, to Afghanistan, Australia, China, Taiwan, and Japan, unclear policies have undercut its credibility.

Ukraine on the Brain

What is it with those in Washington of the Ukraine invasion persuasion?

By hyping the “imminent Russian invasion” that for weeks has been neither, the United States is looking like geopolitical amateurs, not the global leader it has been for the past seven decades.

Why the big campaign about Russian President Vladimir Putin invading Ukraine? He may do so, but he may not.

The reality is that bringing Ukraine into NATO’s orbit is of little value and actually destabilizes the region. It ignores the geographic and historical realities that Ukraine will always be in Russia’s orbit.

This makes conflict more likely, not less.

What’s more, the United States made it clear that no military response was on the table—no matter what Russia did, or did not do, with regard to Ukraine.

Thus, the United States undercut its own leadership and the foundation of NATO security by announcing that it would not militarily defend Ukraine against Russian aggression.

Why join NATO and anger Russia if there’s no defense benefit from doing so?

At this juncture, Kyiv understands that Washington isn’t helping and has put Ukraine in an uneasy position vis-à-vis Russia. Kyiv now realizes that, when push comes to shove, Washington will not militarily defend Ukraine.

Epoch Times Photo
Civilians participate in a Kyiv Territorial Defense unit training session in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Jan. 29, 2022. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Russia has been able to dismiss the whole invasion hype by the United States as propaganda hand wringing from the Biden administration. Putin has stated that the military games in neighboring Belarus are now over and that his forces will return to Russia.

It’s almost as if the United States wants Russia to invade Ukraine—even if it’s only “a minor” one—as an opportunity for the current president to appear somewhat presidential going into the 2022 election cycle.

If so, it has had the opposite effect.

Europeans Skeptical of US Protection and Leadership

The United States has added to its Afghanistan and Ukraine missteps with its diplomatic and strategic mistakes regarding Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.

If U.S. and NATO aims were to minimize Russian influence, why approve the pipeline and give Russia more influence over Germany, NATO’s largest European member, and others?

Thus, with the Russia-Ukraine crisis, threatening to use the pipeline as leverage by denying its use to Russia is problematic. It potentially punishes Germany more than Russia because Russia has yet to benefit from the pipeline, while Germany relies on Russian energy.

The combination of an anti-Russian NATO and Germany’s reliance on Russian energy, with a lack of coherent U.S. leadership, is splitting the Western alliance more than anything Putin has done.

This lack of vision has resulted in a clear diminishment of NATO’s clout and a potentially irretrievable loss of American prestige on the world stage. Like Ukraine, most Europeans simply don’t believe the United States has the power or the will to live up to its responsibility as leader of NATO.

To that point, Washington is doing little to halt Europeans’ perspective that Germany is a more reliable partner than the United States.

New US Administration Gets Baked in Alaska

This rapid decline in U.S. influence didn’t begin in Europe, of course. It began in, of all places, Alaska.

It was at a hastily arranged meeting between the United States and China that Beijing’s most senior foreign policy official, Yang Jiechi, said in clearly belligerent terms that America can’t “speak from a position of strength” when criticizing China.

Epoch Times Photo
Yang Jiechi (R), director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office for China, and Wang Yi (L), China’s Foreign Minister, arrive for a meeting with U.S. counterparts at the opening session of U.S.-China talks at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska, on March 18, 2021. (Frederick J. Brown/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

The United States was caught off guard by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) belligerence and its new tone of China superiority, but did little to counter Beijing’s assertion.

The Impact of US Withdrawal From Afghanistan

But it was the hasty and disgraceful U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan that cast the dark shadow over America’s military will and strategic resolve.

With thousands of Americans and billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment left behind, the global prestige and reputation of the United States was severely damaged. The ripple effect of the United States’ self-inflicted defeat in Kabul was felt around the world, but especially in Taipei and Tokyo.

The Taiwan Walk Back

Although for decades the United States has maintained a posture of “strategic ambiguity” with regard to Taiwan, the Afghanistan debacle put American commitment to allies in doubt.

When questioned about the possibility of defending Taiwan against a potential invasion from China, the U.S. administration was forced to walk back President Joe Biden’s inaccurate assertion that the United States was committed to militarily engaging Taiwan’s defense.

This policy confusion gave a whole new meaning to “strategic ambiguity.” It made U.S. policymakers look undecided and conflicted.

It also underscored growing doubts about U.S. willingness to stand up in defense of Taiwan, prompting Japan to fundamentally alter its strategic assumptions. Japan has now asserted that its security was directly related to Taiwan’s, and has committed to its defense, up to and including a military response to a Chinese invasion.

On the one hand, our allies no longer believe that the United States will honor its commitments, nor that it is willing or even capable of leading the world.

On the other hand, our adversaries are less concerned about U.S. responses than they have been in living memory, growing more dismissive of American power with each passing day.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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James R. Gorrie is the author of “The China Crisis” (Wiley, 2013) and writes on his blog, TheBananaRepublican.com. He is based in Southern California.