The decline of United States Supremacy
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation edited by Walter Lippmann.
There was a moment, between the end of the Cold War in 1991 and the beginning of the Great Recession of 2008, when, in the great United States, optimism about the global spread of US-style liberalism reigned.
It was believed at the time that the United States could use its economic, military, and political superiority to shape a new world order in which their manipulated versions of democracy, human rights, economic interdependence among nations and long-lasting peace would prevail.
During those years, many new members were admitted to NATO and the European Union.
The perspective that Boris Yeltsin’s Russia would become a neoliberal “democracy,” was considered a close possibility. And it was thought that China would be a “responsible” player in the international community.
But now, “we live in a completely different time,” says Stephen Walt in his new book entitled “The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy”, where he analyzes the spirit of today’s times.
The forecasts on the dissipation of the pre-eminence of the United States have become routine. Anti-liberal — left and right wing– parties and movements (many of the latter xenophobic) — have emerged all over Europe. Britain’s departure from the European Union is near.
Globalization is facing a violent reaction and intolerant nationalism is moving forward from Brasilia to Budapest.
Walt’s assessments about the US foreign policy after the Cold War, describe it as “visible failures without great achievements” and consider that, regarding both the general condition of the world, as well as Washington’s status within it, have declined significantly and steadily between 1993 and 2006.”
The liberal internationalist agenda is attractive, but according to Walt it is based on three erroneous assumptions.
(1) The first is that other countries would embrace liberalism mirroring the US style, despite the world’s political and cultural diversity.
(2) The second — which is widely shared by those responsible for U.S. foreign policy and influential members of the media, academia, and think tanks– is that the US could successfully promote democratic policies all over the world thanks to unipolarity. The democracy-building programs of alleged non-governmental organizations such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the US National Fund for Democracy and the International Republican Institute arose from this belief. And when tougher measures are required, the foreign policy establishment considers that the U.S. military strength can defeat despotic regimes, win hearts and minds, and impose democratic policies.
(3) The third assumption underlying liberal internationalism is that the end of the Cold War will end up rendering the political balance of power obsolete, along with spheres of influence, and the nationalism based on blood, soil and faith.
For Walt, these assumptions constitute a fundamental misunderstanding of the forces that shape the world and, therefore, will inevitably lead to failure.
He believes that the madness and fiascos of the last twenty-five years have been a result of the blind commitment of this endogamy system with liberal internationalism: a vision of the world that unites Democrats and Republicans and Liberals and Conservatives alike, and that was adopted by Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
During these three presidencies, the supposed leader was the United States, which, for reasons of principle and self-interest, had to use its unequal power to spread liberal values all over the world. In practice, this meant designing a world in which the majority of the world’s countries — ideally all—would embrace the US pattern of “democratic” ideals, human rights, global governance, markets and rule of law.
Such an international order would not only preserve the preponderance of the United States but would also be safer. Such a belief has been fundamental for the credo of liberal internationalists because “democracies” do not make war against their peers nor do they massacre their citizens or produce bloodshed and agitation that can culminate in civil wars and broken states.
Despite the billions of dollars spent on its promotion, the US model “democracy” failed in 27 states between 2005 and 2015.
December 6, 2018.