US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

in reality, all of this has been a total load of old bollocks
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US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby LMG » 26 Apr 2020, 14:30

You can find any number of articles on American influence as a superpower declining in the 21st century. Here's a couple:

https://apnews.com/d8a59e876979f38bbd852a701f495ca1


America’s global influence has dwindled under Donald Trump

from the Economist, 9th November 2017, from a Leading article (excerpt):

Perhaps the greatest damage that Mr Trump has done is to American soft power. He openly scorns the notion that America should stand up for universal values such as democracy and human rights. Not only does he admire dictators; he explicitly praises thuggishness, such as the mass murder of criminal suspects in the Philippines. He does so not out of diplomatic tact, but apparently out of conviction. This is new. Previous American presidents supported despots for reasons of cold-war realpolitik. (“He’s a bastard, but he’s our bastard,” as Harry Truman is reputed to have said of an anti-communist tyrant in Nicaragua.) Mr Trump’s attitude seems more like: “He’s a bastard. Great!”
This repels America’s liberal allies, in Europe, East Asia and beyond. It emboldens autocrats to behave worse, as in Saudi Arabia this week, where the crown prince’s dramatic political purges met with Mr Trump’s blessing (see article). It makes it easier for China to declare American-style democracy passé, and more tempting for other countries to copy China’s autocratic model (see article).
The idea that things will return to normal after a single Trump term is too sanguine. The world is moving on. Asians are building new trade ties, often centred on China. Europeans are working out how to defend themselves if they cannot rely on Uncle Sam. And American politics are turning inward: both Republicans and Democrats are more protectionist now than they were before Mr Trump’s electoral triumph.
For all its flaws, America has long been the greatest force for good in the world, upholding the liberal order and offering an example of how democracy works. All that is imperilled by a president who believes that strong nations look out only for themselves. By putting “America First”, he makes it weaker, and the world worse off.

https://www.economist.com/
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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby Rorschach » 26 Apr 2020, 15:35

LMG wrote:
from the Economist, 9th November 2017, from a Leading article (excerpt):

Perhaps the greatest damage that Mr Trump has done is to American soft power.


Just on this point, I don't think this is entirely true. Sex and glamour have always been significant elements of American soft power and have proven difficult to emulate in other countries.
While it is probably difficult for most of us here to find the Trumps sexy and glamorous, it appears that a lot of the world do. The Instagram generation go bonkers for them in much the same way they do for the Kardashians. In a way, I suspect that Trump's freewheeling, don't-give-a-fuck style appeals to a lot of people all over the world, who find themselves constrained by societal norms in a way that rock 'n' roll and Hollywood imply that American's aren't.
Obviously this is different from how Trump and the US are seen among politicians et al, and this excerpt from the article makes sense. But I think the more 'basic' elements of American soft power among the hoi-polloi may be no weaker at all.
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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby LMG » 26 Apr 2020, 16:32

A good point, Rorsch.

Obviously by its very definition 'soft power' is difficult to quantify or even assess. However, anecdotally I have been shocked by the number of my friends and acquaintances, usually of an apolitical or 'anarchist' bent, who have expressed (often great) admiration for Trump. Their argument seems to be that because he upsets the political establishment at home and internationally, he is a rebel and a good thing.

There is also the uncomfortable argument that goes: many nations and cultures have heard various US administrations saying down the years 'We really care about you, not just your wonderful nation and your culture, but in human rights terms and the struggles you are engaging in', and they have responded 'yeah? then help us out, don't just say it...'

Well, now they have an administration that says 'You know what? I don't care. My people don't care. I am not even gonna hire an ambassador to wherever-the-hell-you-are-istan, my concern is with America, first and last and always. So good luck with your troubles and all, now leave us the hell alone'.

That must be a chilling stance to hear, and I suspect many will respond 'wait, wait! we didn't mean to be ungrateful, let's talk again!'.
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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby Positive Passion » 26 Apr 2020, 16:35

I think there is little doubt that the policies of GW Bush and Trump have reduced US political influence - the US is no longer a place which welcomes immigrants, and which places nothing above its self-interest. That this may also have been the case before is neither here nor there - the Cold War alliances skimmed over it.

However their political influence is still probably larger than anyone else's, and even the EU does not rival it. The largest international grouping - the Commonwealth - does not sufficiently exert its huge potential, and it is difficult to work out why, though the obvious starting point is lack of enthusiasm on the part of the UK (nothing to do with the UK being part of the EU, but rather related to the xenophobic tendencies in the Tory party over the last forty years which produced UKIP etc.

On the other hand US corporate influence globally (google, amazon, apple, microsoft etc, let alone organisations like Halliburton) has continued to grow exponentially, and its impact is just as significant as political influence.

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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby Matt Wilson » 26 Apr 2020, 17:29

I blame the lack of interest in the Magna Carta.



...the horror!

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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby LMG » 26 Apr 2020, 17:36

Positive Passion wrote:
On the other hand US corporate influence globally (google, amazon, apple, microsoft etc, let alone organisations like Halliburton) has continued to grow exponentially, and its impact is just as significant as political influence.


I think that assessing corporate global influence is always difficult to undertake.

Thirty-five years ago, when was studying and teaching this stuff, the required reading was a guy called Raymond Vernon (developer of the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after WWII), who wrote an article called 'Sovereignty At Bay', in which he described how national governments and supra-national entities like the commonwealth and the EU are diminished by the power wielded by corporates.

Some time after that if I recall correctly he tempered his conclusions, and published 'Multinationals At Bay', indicating that other powers had grown which restricted the powers of corporate entities.

I just cannot recall what these 'other powers' were, so I do not have a view on whether the technology-driven corporate entities are affected in the same way!

https://www.jstor.org/stable/2706434?seq=1
https://www.economist.com/obituary/1999 ... ond-vernon
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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby LMG » 26 Apr 2020, 17:37

Matt Wilson wrote:I blame the lack of interest in the Magna Carta.



...the horror!


Why does this not surprise me one jot!
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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby Flower » 26 Apr 2020, 17:40

Another article that agrees on this point.

https://theconversation.com/a-new-world ... d-it-98362

A new world is dawning, and the US will no longer lead it


From pulling out of treaties to denigrating allies to starting trade wars, the impulsive actions of President Donald Trump are upending the international order that has been in place since the end of World War II.

But even before Trump’s belligerent foreign policy positions, America had been gradually losing its dominant role in world affairs.

A power shift among the nations of the world began at the end of the Cold War and has been accelerating this century.

It is not as simple as saying “America is in decline,” since America remains a powerful country. But American global power has been eroding for some time, as I argue in the Foreign Policy Association’s “Great Decisions 2018” volume. The power of other countries has grown, giving them both the ability and the desire to effect global affairs independently of U.S. desires.

I am a foreign policy scholar and practitioner who has studied U.S. foreign policy through many administrations. I believe this global trend spells the end of the “exceptional nation” Americans imagined they were since the nation was founded and the end of the American era of global domination that began 70 years ago. We are no longer the “indispensable” nation celebrated by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the end of the last century.
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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby Matt Wilson » 26 Apr 2020, 17:54

LMG wrote:
Matt Wilson wrote:I blame the lack of interest in the Magna Carta.



...the horror!


Why does this not surprise me one jot!


Because you're far too intelligent to be surprised by anything Rikki.

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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby LMG » 26 Apr 2020, 18:04

Matt Wilson wrote:
LMG wrote:
Matt Wilson wrote:I blame the lack of interest in the Magna Carta.



...the horror!


Why does this not surprise me one jot!


Because you're far too intelligent to be surprised by anything Rikki.


There is that, of course.
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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby Matt Wilson » 26 Apr 2020, 18:08


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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby LMG » 26 Apr 2020, 18:14

Flower wrote:Another article that agrees on this point.

https://theconversation.com/a-new-world ... d-it-98362

A new world is dawning, and the US will no longer lead it


A power shift among the nations of the world began at the end of the Cold War and has been accelerating this century.


There is a problem with this very long term view - which is that over time, many prophecies turn out to be the case. It is like the economist who predicts 'an eventual downturn in the economy' - of course, eventually he or she will be correct.

But as Keynes said 'In the long term we are all dead'.

I was taught in 1985 in International Relations classes that US power and influence was in an inevitable decline. Now I have to ask 'compared to when?' To the postwar years 1945-54? Well, yes. Much of the world had been decimated by war, the US was relatively untouched by the destruction, and had played a key role in finishing that war. So of course it would enjoy unparalleled influence.

So do you look further back? Past the Depression, obviously - but if you go back too far, the US does not have much of the economic and military power it has used to achieve superpower status.

I am just wondering if this 'golden age of US influence' which hassupposedly been in decline since I started studying the subject in 1980 is a myth.
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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby LMG » 26 Apr 2020, 18:19

Matt Wilson wrote:Took me all of two seconds.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions ... democracy/


Is this the article you intended to post, Matt?

It is about the failures of the previous British administration to achieve its goals?

It is a bit out of date, and not entirely relevant to US decline!
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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby Matt Wilson » 26 Apr 2020, 18:24

I wouldn't know, I never read it. Multiple paragraphs and all that.

You know how we Americans are with concepts and too many words.

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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby Diamond Dog » 26 Apr 2020, 18:35

Matt Wilson wrote:I wouldn't know, I never read it. Multiple paragraphs and all that.

You know how we Americans are with concepts and too many words.



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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby KeithPratt » 26 Apr 2020, 18:44

Bruno Macaes, who is an emerging commentator on global politics, posits the notion that for all China's surging momentum that it has had over the last twenty years, it has no California.

Strategically, the US is blessed by access to the Atlantic and the Pacific. It shares a border with two countries, neither of which are allied to a global competitor or pose any threat. China is hemmed in by the South China sea and shares a border with a large number of countries.

It has had to start building a Silk Road and Belt scheme at ENORMOUS cost to make itself globally communicative in the same way that the US is. Yes, it is emerging as a hard power but it has plenty of obstacles to that. The fact that there is a huge mountain range that separates it from India is as problematic as much as it provides a natural bulwark.

California has produced the world's most powerful corporations with the technology to reach across the globe - Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. In terms of cultural capital and projection, no other country will ever produce the same sort of innovation or ability to transmit "western culture" in the way that it does for at least another 50 years or maybe even a century. Sure, the Chinese will copy what the US does, but it has shown no ability to innovate yet. That may well come at some point, but I doubt it.

California is the US's secret weapon, which at the moment no other place can match. It is the golden land that people from all over the world will naturally want to gravitate to - the duality of Hollywood and Silicon Valley. The place where enormous sums of money and freedom are made. The US will hit troughs, and surely California's golden time will at some point come to an end, but until then, I believe it is what makes the US's place in the world secure.

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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby Positive Passion » 26 Apr 2020, 19:59

LMG wrote:
Some time after that if I recall correctly he tempered his conclusions, and published 'Multinationals At Bay', indicating that other powers had grown which restricted the powers of corporate entities.



I expect these things swing from time to time. Details like the fact that lots of international trade treaties, especially those negotiated by the US, allow corporates to sue governments if they introduce new laws affecting the business of those companies under provisions called investor-state dispute settlement ( "ISDS"), and the attitude of Google towards the efforts of US congress to tax their profits properly suggest that in recent years the forces of capitalism are ascendant. An article in from 2019 suggests that now the tide is turning against ISDS in new negotiations.

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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby Flower » 26 Apr 2020, 20:07

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles ... we-know-it

Will the Coronavirus End Globalization as We Know It?

The Pandemic Is Exposing Market Vulnerabilities No One Knew Existed

Mar 16, 2020 - Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations became the wealth of the world as businesses took advantage of a globalized division of labor.

The new coronavirus is shaping up to be an enormous stress test for globalization. As critical supply chains break down, and nations hoard medical supplies and rush to limit travel, the crisis is forcing a major reevaluation of the interconnected global economy. Not only has globalization allowed for the rapid spread of contagious disease but it has fostered deep interdependence between firms and nations that makes them more vulnerable to unexpected shocks. Now, firms and nations alike are discovering just how vulnerable they are.

But the lesson of the new coronavirus is not that globalization failed. The lesson is that globalization is fragile, despite or even because of its benefits. For decades, individual firms’ relentless efforts to eliminate redundancy generated unprecedented wealth. But these efforts also reduced the amount of unused resources—what economists refer to as “slack”—in the global economy as a whole. In normal times, firms often see slack as a measure of idle, or even squandered, productive capacity. But too little slack makes the broader system brittle in times of crisis, eliminating critical fail-safes.

Lack of fail-safe manufacturing alternatives can cause supply chains to break down, as they have in some medical and health-related sectors as a result of the new coronavirus. Producers of vital medical supplies have been overwhelmed by a surge in global demand, pitting countries against one another in a competition for resources. The outcome has been a shift in power dynamics among major world economies, with those that are well prepared to combat the new virus either hoarding resources for themselves or assisting those that are not—and expanding their influence on the global stage as a result.
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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby C » 26 Apr 2020, 22:22

Matt Wilson wrote:Magna Carta


Their third is my favourite

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Re: US Influence On Global Politics - REALLY On The Wane?

Postby LMG » 27 Apr 2020, 08:16

Uh oh.

Rorschach wrote:
I want to be able to post here every day and not have to wade through prog rock 'music' references every time!



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