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The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism

Not since Rome has one nation loomed so large above the others. The United States once bestrode the globe like no other; but has the U.S. reached the limits of its power.

October 26

0:00
2016

London , United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland - 26 Oct 2016 - Washington Post

Not since Rome has one nation loomed so large above the others. In the words of The Economist, "the United States bestrides the globe like a colossus. It dominates business, commerce and communications; its economy is the world's most successful, its military might second to none."

French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine argued in 1999 that the United States had gone beyond its superpower status of the twentieth century. "U.S. supremacy today extends to the economy, currency, military areas, lifestyle, language and the products of mass culture that inundate the world, forming thought and fascinating even the enemies of the United States." Or as two American triumphalists put it, "Today's international system is built not around a balance of power but around American hegemony. " As global interdependence has increased, many have argued that globalization is simply a disguise for American imperialism. With that said, economic power has become more important than in the past, both because of the relative increase in the costliness of force and because economic objectives loom large in the values of postindustrial societies. In a world of economic globalization, all countries are to some extent dependent on
market forces beyond their direct control.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte statement this Wednesday that he wanted American troops out of his country, perhaps in the next two years, underlining his intention to press ahead with a major realignment of his country’s foreign and security policies spells an end to the growing American penchant for empire and sense of entitlement.

Duterte remarks are particularly important given that the Philippines is one of the oldest U.S. allies in Asia, and hosted permanent U.S. military bases until they were evicted in 1992. It is also an important Pentagon counterweight to China, whose expansion plans into the South China Sea have dismayed the Philippines and other nations.

When you sit down with American policy makers, they have no idea what their strategic interest [in Asia] is. During the cold war, they were very clear what they wanted – the containment of communism, the spread of free enterprise and free trade in which it was assumed America always had the leading role. Unfortunately, today's leaders have no idea what they want.

For any seasoned politician, the pursuit of world peace and stability should be their number one objective, but since 2001, the United States has rampaged across the world trying to reshape it but without knowing the outcome they seek. The results speak for themselves; in just under 20 years, the United States has destroyed its manufacturing base, its workforce, its nation, its citizen's health, its economy and its military not to forget the unecessary direct or indirect death of over 2 million people, the destruction of five nations and the forced migration of millions of people from the ravages of wars started by the United States. What has emerged is nothing short of a dysfunctional dystopian and increasingly brutal regime that no longers cares about its own population, the environment or the future of the planet.

The United States has become dislocated from its own nation, caring little about the nation's crumbling infrastructure, and instead committing itself to helping other nations with money they do not have, instead borrowing it from future generations to prop up undesirable regimes that maintain America's status quo to the deteriment of the citizens of those nations. In effect, a great deal of treasure, blood and effort is being expended for absolutely no benefits at all.

Dutertes move may be the just the tip of the iceberg. As the United States continues to pursue wasteful strategies that are creating far more enemies then they are destroying; and increasingly tipping the world into economic armageddon, it is worth noting that the foundations of power have been moving away from the emphasis on military force and conquest instead relying on an interdependent economic system that was underwritten by the dollar; which the United States benefited from the most.

If American diplomacy continues down this unilateral and arrogant path its preponderance would not prevent other states and nonstate actors from taking actions that complicate American calculations and constrain its freedom of action. This is exactly what is happening now with Russia's intervention in Syria, and Duterte's realignment with China.

Athough it may be too late to reverse the decline in American Hegemony, all is not lost.

 

 

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