HomeOpEdUnited States: Paradigm Shift in Post-Trump era

United States: Paradigm Shift in Post-Trump era


Dr. Muhammad Farouq Khan Lodhi

American withdrawal from Afghanistan, chaotic and disorderly as it was, closed a chapter of American history firmly and for good. One can only hope that US would take a lesson from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan and stop chasing phantoms all over the globe. US must realize that the thumb rules of the bygone years of US’ hegemonic world order are no longer valid. The days of interventionism are finally over. US needs to see the big picture of world politics as it now emerges and never fall for Bush style vendetta which only brought it shame at the end of two decades of senseless military adventures. US would better focus of its vital commitment to European security rather than try to maintain a world order that has fallen apart.

The ‘threat’ has not just shifted its geographic origin, it has also undergone a qualitative change. Dealing with the new features of the threat demands a new strategy and a new set of rules of the game. The shift in paradigm that now appears mandatory, if instituted by the Joe Biden regime and their successors, may emphasize new global socio-economic development tasks, more so, in the Third World to compete with China’s growing influence in Asia and Africa.

It is a colossal task, and it would best be executed through the US diplomatic corps and various nongovernmental actors and businesses firms rather than through the use of military force. Afghan War has brought the lesson home that warmongering does not buy the US any goodwill. The mother of all wars – the one with China – must be discounted at the outset. It cannot be won. The US may engage in a healthy competition with China in the realms of security, trade, education, and health in their respective zones of influence and promote an era of true Internationalism.

In the business world, current ethics may be described as a hostile version of Mercantilism. Overseas factories are no longer seen as a business initiative but as something inimical to domestic economic interests. Currency manipulation and unfair trade practices make industrial and trade cooperation a thing of the past. There is a general weakening of concern among the donors for genuine humanitarian issues. Aid is frequently diverted to such Third World countries as considered in the donor’s zone of influence.

The quality of life at the street level has deteriorated in the First World. The appeal of religion as the guiding source of conduct has diminished. One can no longer persuade an individual that he should not kill innocent people on the street because it is forbidden by God. There is no other supreme influence to appeal to. The feeling of insecurity is robbing citizens of simple pleasures of life such as being able to take babies out for a stroll.

Under Donald Trump, the US had turned Introvert. Domestic problems such as an abundance of guns and continental terrorism outweighed world peace and environmental issues. American introvert attitude had robbed the world of any hope for a long-term international peace cycle. By focusing on Afghanistan and by completing the long-since pending withdrawal, Biden has given the world a ray of hope that other vital issues like Palestine and Kashmir would be attended to as well.

The notion of American Exceptionalism had become prominent in the Trump era and Biden must realize that it is hurting US interests.  US policymakers must not fall victim to the idea that the US being a superpower can flout the laws of economics and norms of international politics.

International peace is strengthened by increased assistance in scientific research, the development of the social sector, and promoting education in needy countries. Benevolent world order is maintained through creative diplomacy and making world institutions effective. This requires benevolent policies and proactive diplomacy. If UN and international agencies cannot distribute food in war and affected areas in Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, then the US has to step in and do what is expected of the world leader.

China and other global economies are growing steadily while the US share of the global economy continues to shrink. Toning down the international market dominance of US Dollar will restore balance and ensure equitable growth. So far, the Chinese effort to replace the dollar with Yuan in its sphere of influence has not succeeded. Scaling down the Dollar’s role voluntarily as the world’s dominant reserve currency may be one option for US to consider.

China’s rise to a superpower is seemingly inevitable. The Chinese feel that the US is denying them their due role as a partner in world leadership. The US may reconcile with the fact that its hegemony is in a state of decline and allow the greater political and economic role to China. It may offer better prospects of peace and promote greater global stability. US would naturally retain its current level of armed forces out of its hard security compulsions but it may resort to show of power more frequently rather than the actual use of force. Use of brute force must not be made without first having exhausted all avenues of peace.

China will, in all probability, continue to be the principal concern for American administration in the foreseeable time. The strategic competition with China will force the US to consider a shift in its security paradigm within Biden’s term. Without this, the US and its allies cannot check China’s bid to modify the current international order. President Xi sees an opportunity for China and would strive to secure the status of the world’s strongest economy which, in turn, would bring it economic power, technological lead, and perhaps even compatible, if not superior, military might.

The shift in paradigm may be described as setting in of Offensive Liberalism Era.  In J. J. Mearsheimer’s reckoning, as stated in his 2001 book The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, China will first enhance its power in the Asia-Pacific region and then attempt to drive US out of it. Taliban takeover in Afghanistan may pave the way for that. As per Mearsheimer, China would next push the US Navy out of the China Sea and control the sea lanes to complete its hegemony over the region. China would become the honest broker and will try to resolve the disputes among African nations and in the Middle East. Finally, China may undermine the US regional hegemony in the Western Hemisphere. Containment, the author suggests, should be enforced through a coalition with China’s neighbors. The opportunity for that seems to have been lost with the likely emergence of a Russian/Chinese-led bloc comprising Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and some of the Central Asian States. We may be looking at an altogether new strategic map of the region!

* The writer is a former  Registrar at National Defence University, Islamabad (2010-2013) and a free-lance researcher.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not represent that of the organisation. 

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