There is no denying the fact that human history has hardly witnessed a “great power” like the US in terms of economy, military, innovation, science and technology, democracy, and the diplomatic and political influence the country exerts around the world. The American way of life has dominated the world for so long.
Trump and his foreign relations team have to understand that foreign policy and that too by the sole superpower does not operate in total vacuum and disregard of the other sovereign nation-states. “America first” policy, in the process, has started hurting others as America would be great only if it takes along other nation-states, irrespective of their size, value and power.
If one looks at the pages of international relations, there are the total of four major world systems, i.e. Westphalian Model, Concert of Europe, League of Nations, and the United Nations (UN). These all systems were erected to bring peace and a just world order in a complex world. But, one would find that all former three systems could not bring the desired results and the fourth one that is still surviving the UN has a bumpy history too. The UN is hostage to major world powers due to non-democratic veto system.
Soon after the end of cold war, we witnessed a sole superpower with new world order giving hope of a better world. It wanted to help in resolving the world issues. But as the time passed, the US stands indifferent too. Lately, the US’ role in global leadership has been under discussion by many foreign policy experts since the US President Donald Trump entered the Oval office. Protecting American interests has preoccupied President Trump and in the process, he has damaged the trust between the US and its major European allies in particular and others in general.
The US today has decided to focus more on itself that the world issues and problems. During his election primaries and conventions, President Trump had painted a darker side of the US both internally and externally. Internally, he built his case on American economic degradation in terms of development, infrastructure, and jobs. Externally, he kept on telling the American rank and file that the US had been taken advantage of by other states, implying the US is left behind.
Right from his election campaign, he stands for burden sharing in terms of the economy from America’s traditional allies in Europe. He believes that the US blood and economy is not free for the security of its allies in particular and of the world in general. He tends to follow an inward-looking policy to fix the internal problems rather than making efforts in others’ issues.
He seems to take on all major centres of power in the world. Countries with substantial power, i.e. China, Russia, Turkey, Iran, and NATO states etc have started feeling the brunt of Trump’s aggressive foreign policy. Former President Obama had the different approach, which mostly relied on idealistic tendencies. Obama wanted and did try to “rebuild alliances, partnerships, and institutions.” Obama was successful in making the Americans believe that he stood for a change as at that time America was involved in two foreign wars, i.e. Iraq and Afghanistan coupled with economic stagnation at home. This is one of the main reasons that he needed allies and partners to support American exit from these wars.
On the contrary, President Trump stands for annoying traditional US allies, i.e. EU and NATO partners. He is also poised to withdraw from the multilateral financial agreement, i.e. North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He was successful in withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Paris Agreement, and Iranian nuclear deal. The recent US national security strategy (NSS) and national defence strategy (NDS) clubbed both China and Russia as competitors of the US, if not rivals. The result is the trade war between the US and China.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy and position of Regional Rapport.
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Khalid Chandio is Research Fellow at Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), Pakistan. His areas of research include (i) US foreign and defence policy and (ii) internal dynamics of the US/domestic politics (Lobbies in the US). Khalid regularly contributes articles on current strategic issues in English dailies of Pakistan. He achieved award/certificate of “NESA ALUMNUS” by Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University (NDU), Washington, D.C., US.