Dear Progressives: Post Pax Americana Sucks – And It Will Only Get Worse
A recents round of air strikes in Yemin, whose civil war is rapidly reducing the country to Syrian levels of disfunction, have left hundreds dead. Turkish tanks and infantry are massing on the country’s border with Iraq as its new sultan, in all but name, Tayyip Erdogan threatens military intervention in Kurdish forces enter the Sinjar region. To the West in Aleppo, a siege drags on that has reduced the city’s civilian population to near starvation levels. In Moscow, Vladimir Putin sits in the Kremlin and escalates tensions further and further through Eastern Europe and across the Middle East. In the Asia, North Korea continues its provocations against the South, as its unstable boy-ruler threatens to engulf an entire peninsula in nuclear war. Add all all of this emerges and the picture that emerges is one of a world on the brink. Diagnosis the cause of it all is quite simple, for these are all symptomatic of a great retreat from the world stage by America that has occurred over the last decade. Free of the old threat of retaliation by the United States that used to keep them in line, nations across the globe are settling old scores or racking up new ones.
The tremendous irony here is that this is precisely what the progressive left have been demanding for decades now. The dust had barely settled from the fall of the Berlin Wall when the usual collection of suspects had begun railing against the dominance of America on the world stage and its perceived imperalism and neocolonialism. Some were campus Marxists simply sore over the outcome of the Cold War, others were cultural relativists opposed to the very idea that the West interfering in the affairs of other nations (for after all who are we to judge), and still more an odd assortment of anti-capitalist crazies, environmentalist nut jobs, and assorted other far left fanatics who would find reasons to condemn any act by America no matter how benign. What bound this diverse crew of miscreants together was a unified belief that a world with less America in it would be more peaceful and better for all involved.
Only as it turns out the exact opposite has occurred. A world where American power has declined is one that has become more violent and dangerous. Take the Philipines, where President Rodrigo Duterte has been openly carrying out a campaign of extrajudicial killings against drug dealers, Islamic separatists, and anyone else he happens to dislike. This rampage of murder has drawn severe criticisms from across the world including condemnation from the U.S. State Department, which in previous years would have given second thought to all but he most suicidal of aspiring strongmen. In Duterte’s case his response has been to quite literally tell the States to go to hell and begin cozying up to China (a move that incidentally puts in doubt the continuity of a decades long US military presence in the region).
The examples go on and on. Iran, already embodied by a deal that guarantees it nuclear weapons in a decades’ time, has openly sent Shiite militiamen to Syria in support of the Assad regime while arming its allies in Iraq to help repel ISIS (moves it never would have dared to undertake even a few years ago). In the Ukraine, civil war continues to fester as eastern separatists backed by Russian equipment and volunteers carve out their own parallel state. North and Sub-Saharan African are plagued by Islamic terror groups destabilizing their already unstable nation states. A vacuum once created will always be filled, and quite often the forces that fill such voids are dark and unsettling.
One can hardly blame America for choosing to step back from its former role of preeminent world power, its been the most thankless job imaginable. From the moment it first ascended to preeminence America has faced nonstop criticism and condemnation, quite often from the very same nations that have sheltered under its security umbrella for protection to avoid having to invest in their own defence forces. True, quite a few of its foreign policy decisions in the decades since 1991 have proven to be poor, but it’s not as if anyone else had volunteered to step up and shoulder the burden in their place.
Now it seems these same people have finally gotten their dearest wish and been given a world freed of American interference. We shall see if they will come to regret being granted what they have for so long wanted. It should be remembered that when Rome fell, the ensuing vacuum plunged the world into a time of chaos and terror remembered by history as the Dark Ages. It might be a tad of an exaggeration to predict that is what will face the world as Pax Americana begins its great inward retreat, but it is not one to say that the world may come to look back with fondness on the days when the United States bestrode it as a great but ultimately benign collusus.