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A Fall in American Leadership

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A Fall in American Leadership

American Leadership

In American Leadership, prominent conservatives in the national security movement unite to strengthen the United States’ position as a world leader and protector of liberty through the use of a robust military and a vested interest in free trade.

FAL’s research and policy products educate lawmakers and the executive branch on critical matters of national security, such as sanctions, human rights, democracy, non-proliferation, defense policy, arms control, and national security law.

American Leadership

The United States is currently experiencing two epidemics: a coronavirus outbreak and a contagious feeling of national failure.

 A failed coronavirus response has led politicians and commentators to sombrely lament that American society is ill and that American leadership on the global stage has ended, much like the so-called Flagellants who wandered across Europe during the Black Death, scourging themselves and lamenting their transgressions. 

Not only are there pessimists here, but there are also watchers in East Asia and Europe who are wondering if the pandemic will compromise the United States’ position as a world leader.

According to the Atlantic Council, American preeminence is in jeopardy. 

People are feeling really down and can’t believe that there’s a lack of American leadership in the world. Read the headlines of The New York Times. 

The same argument has been advanced in articles published in The Guardian and broadcast on National Public Radio, among other outlets: the reaction of the Trump administration to the coronavirus proves that our time as world leaders is over.

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It has flaws. BUT DEADLY? Yes, the United States’ reaction needs to be improved. The time gained by Trump’s widely panned but now-universally-copied coronavirus travel bans could have been far better utilized by the federal government and state and local authorities.

  •  If the nation had taken the time to improve its readiness for testing and treatment, and if rigorous social distancing rules had been implemented sooner, the virus’s spread may have been significantly slowed. The estimated number of deaths could have been lower. 
  • With the country so divided and an election year upon us, many are understandably anxious about who will be held responsible for any blunders in planning or carrying out the strategy. With Trump’s string of lengthy and aimless press conferences doing nothing to inspire faith in his leadership, the current administration presents opponents with a wide array of tempting targets, starting with the “chief magistrate” himself. 
  • There are issues with both the federal government’s and individual states’ reactions; for instance, following a string of early misjudgments, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo essentially sidelined Mayor Bill de Blasio.
  • If a miraculous remedy doesn’t materialize, the tragedy will undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences, putting medical institutions and governments at their limits and beyond them. Our modern-day Flagellants will go into a dramatic meltdown with every piece of terrible news.
  • There is a school of thought among amateur epidemiologists that holds that the U.S. strategy needs to be more cohesive and ineffectual and that a centralized approach is the only way to succeed. The establishment of a single federal command is the only way to come out on top in the fight against what President Donald Trump calls an ‘invisible enemy’ is crucial.” According to N.B.C.’s report from early April by experts,
  • Apart from that, many view the Trump administration’s hostile stance toward the WHO as a strategic betrayal of leadership. The United States has cut off support for the sole group fighting a worldwide pandemic, which is likewise imperfect, just when the world needs them the most. How myopic can a person be? Furthermore, how can the leadership of a government that was elected with the motto “America First” effectively combat a disease that disregards borders and national allegiances?
  • Prior “failures.” To declare American failure domestically or in its obligations to the international system is premature. Over more than 200 years, Americans have often faltered when confronted with sudden difficulties, and their initial reactions have rarely been prudent or successful.

Although the United States’ performance in World War II is typically hailed as a model of greatness today, what was it like during that era? Our Pacific forces were helpless when war broke out in 1941 because of poor strategic and operational judgments. The Pacific fleet was concentrated and inadequately protected in Pearl Harbor, with the exception of its aircraft carriers, which was a relief.

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A Fall in American Leadership

American Leadership

America’s credibility was tarnished by the war in Iraq and the aftermath. The United States has been vital in the past due to its values platform, military might, prominent role in the international monetary system, and technological innovation. In India, there is a vocal pro-American lobby that rejects claims that the U.S. is losing power and instead calls for deeper ties with Washington.

“This is in opposition to the views of prominent commentators like Andrew Whitehead, Laura Kuenssberg, and Ian Bremmer, who believe that America’s democracy has lost its ability to renew itself and that the U.S. is the world’s most divided and dysfunctional advanced industrial democracy.”

  • Frank Gardner (“The previous twelve months have witnessed a number of setbacks for the U.S, Europe, and other major democracies on the international politics stage… “), Jonathan Freedland (“Not for nothing is there serious concern in the U.S. that January 2025 could open a new chapter of U.S. authoritarianism, even an American dictatorship”), and the rest of the experts agree. 
  • As a result, the power dynamic is changing, and Western ideals, which have been dominant for a long time, are losing ground. This is especially true in light of what Niall Ferguson has said:
  • “The harsh reality is that the U.S. is no longer very good at getting B to do something that B would not otherwise do.” This is especially true in light of the fact that Israel’s conflict in Gaza is showing no signs of abating. 
  • In 2023, according to Ferguson’s calculations, China’s G.D.P. was five times bigger than America’s in terms of buying power parity. His list of grievances with the United States included the growing national debt to $32 trillion, problems with secondary education, public health, new technology, and unlawful immigration.

The United States had a significant impact on the post-war rules-based international system. While the idea of a rules-based order is appealing, the reality is that it was neither rule-centered nor globally applicable.

As a power-based system created by the United States and its allies, Washington felt it could ignore its rules, especially those that forbade meddling in other countries’ domestic affairs.

With “maybe even higher as not all data is published by the Pentagon,” according to Al Jazeera, the United States has 750 bases in 80 nations, which is evidence of its military expedition and the credibility it lost in the aftermath of the Asian wars.

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Washington’s inability to capitalize on its global position is bolstering political, economic, and cultural polarization. Along with numerous other international commitments, the United States severed ties with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which had focused on liberal democracy, transparency, and human rights.

  • Domestic polarization caused ideological fragmentation, which in turn rendered cooperation in its two-party system non-existent, even as it sought domination on an international scale.
  • Many people in the West and some areas of Asia feel left out of economic success because of the weakening of community, family, and societal bonds brought about by open liberalism and globalization. 
  • As a result of people’s movements, there is a backlash against immigration, which fuels populist movements, and individual freedom is pitted against the state, society, and the law.
  • Being a powerful geopolitical player requires more than just the exercise of force; legitimacy is equally essential. 
  • Great leaders still seek legitimacy at home and internationally. The balance of power has shifted, and the legitimacy of many institutions and leaders is under attack.
  •  Mr. Trump and his supporters openly challenge the legality of the U.S. electoral system. The United States’ non-governmental and unregulated entertainment industry and long-standing alliances in Southeast Asia and Europe provide a counterbalance to some of the negative aspects of American power. 
  • At the same time, the country’s involvement in Israel’s aggression against the Palestinians has thrown all of its previous policies in West Asia into disarray.

Chinese and Russian Actions

American Leadership

China and Russia’s leaders are hell-bent on preserving their autocratic governments and reshaping the global system in their favor. They want to do this by blocking the spread of Western democratic ideas that have been influential for decades through trade, pressure, and diasporic relationships. 

  • Many people in Africa and Asia see Western liberalism as an insensitive display of European and American haughtiness or, worse, as a cover for neo-imperialism. The present dollar-centric system has unacceptable risks, and although the international financial settlement infrastructure is going to be around for a while, the policies of the BRICS countries make it look like local currencies and the dollar will be competing.
  • Today, the world is focused on the security and economic rivalry between the United States and China, which could pose a threat in the future. The Confucius Institutes, TikTok, and gaming are just a few of the unconventional and conventional tools China uses in its power projection initiatives. Not only does it have an unparalleled program of infrastructure finance worldwide, but its geoengineering and high-tech capabilities also garner admiration. Because of domestic strife, the United States is falling behind China and the European Union in artificial intelligence standards.
  • Even if the United States is no longer “the indispensable nation,” as former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright put it, India will do well to cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship with it while remaining aware of its limitations.

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The Ups and Down of American Leadership

In a little over four months, Donald Trump assumed the presidency of the United States. The impact of his presidency is all that needs to be determined; it’s a watershed moment: Trump has radically altered our perceptions of America’s values.

 Our world is one that the United States created. Right now, it’s ruining it. That bleak truth must not be disregarded.

  • Mr. Trump’s domestic policy aligns with the Republican party’s agenda. Its goal is to reduce expenditures on the poor in order to raise taxes on the wealthy.
  • Replacing Obamacare, the American Health Care Act was recently approved by the House of Representatives and has shocking ratings from the Congressional Budget Office. 
  • A decrease of $1.1 trillion in spending on Medicaid and other subsidies would cover the loss of $992.2 billion in tax receipts that would occur between 2017 and 26 as a result of the act. 
  • A projected 23 million more people will lack health insurance by 2026, says the Congressional Budget Office.
  • There is consensus among proposals to both increase expenditure and alter taxes. 
  • A $52 billion boost in defense expenditure is part of the discretionary spending plans for next year, with significant reductions in other areas needed to cover the difference.
  •  A total of $13 billion, or 16% of the budget, will be slashed from health and human services, $12 billion, or 29% of the funding for the State Department and the international development agency, and $9 billion, or 14% of the budget, will be allocated to education. It would be catastrophic for the United States’ diplomatic capabilities.

Under Mr. Trump, the United States will prioritize hard power and reduced taxes. Also, they have a long history of Republican support. It can appear odd to wage what is essentially a financial war on one’s supporters. 

Nevertheless, the chaos is not without purpose. Trump supporters will feel even more helpless when the government cuts the programs that low-income whites rely on. As a result, political divisions will widen. Unfortunately, populism has been all too successful with that tactic.

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American Leadership

  • Then what’s new at your place? Mr. Trump’s character is the key. Along with his intelligence services and the media, he is perpetually at odds with reality. Press freedom and government efficiency have been maintained admirably. Legal systems have also evolved. However, it is still early days. His administration is in disarray, and the president needs more discipline. A potential slide into dictatorship may result from a terrorist outrage under Mr. Trump.
  • Already, Mr. Trump has had a profound effect on the concept of the West. When it comes to both economic power and corporate insight, the Western alliance remains unrivaled. However, it is crumbling. Europe can’t depend on the United States anymore, as German Chancellor.It appears that Mr. Trump prefers tyrants over modern Western Europeans. He has a cordial relationship with Russia, and Turkey, and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines. Human rights and democracy seem to be utterly irrelevant to him—he does not appear dedicated to NATO’s goals of mutual defense.
  • Instead of a schism between democracies and despotisms, Mr. Trump’s” alt-right” followers receive a schism between social conservatives and nationalists—those they oppose—and social progressives and globalists. Western Europeans are seen as foes by her rather than allies.

The phrase “rules-based” was used five times by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in his speech at the significant annual defense conference in Singapore over the weekend. A.P.A.P.

Mr. Trump may agree, at least in his heart. His conservative advisors include the defense secretary, James Mattis. It appears that the president’s heart is not in it, though. The West might yet be alive. However, it is dead as an association of nations that hold common ideals and objectives.

 Think about the West, and the United States in particular, now. Its political and economic influence has diminished due to China’s ascent. Their reputation has taken a significant hit due to a string of unsuccessful wars and financial crises in recent history.

  •  The democratic system has taken a further hit due to the selection of Mr. Trump, who blatantly lacks the qualities, skills, expertise, and experience that are needed for a president. The West is now internally divided as well. Many people are wondering what the United States will do in the future. They ask whether it wouldn’t be more competent to relocate closer to China.
  • If this were to occur, Mr. Trump would seem unconcerned. As a voluntary withdrawal, he pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which had sought to provide an alternative to China’s leadership. He is seeking the United States to reject the idea of soft power. Actually, the administration only thinks a little of the concept from the planned budget: diplomacy is optional, but armaments are.
  • Democratic soft power has lost some of its luster. It ushered in the presidency of the most powerful nation in the world, Mr. Trump. Keep out of my business.

Still, a lot is riding on this planet. Prosperity, peace, and protecting the commons are the three major obstacles that must be overcome.

American Leadership

  • To start with, the notion of limiting imports, or at the very least of bilateralism, is still attractive to Mr. Trump’s policy team. At this point, its protective rhetoric is more annoying than it is helpful. Still, progress toward globalization has halted. It may stay that way if the United States does not step in.
  • Regarding the issue of peace, it is still being determined if Mr. Trump’s natural inclination toward conflict can be controlled. The most challenging aspect is the connection with China. It would appear that President Trump believes he can do business with President Xi Jinping of China. He might even enjoy totalitarianism.
  • The most disheartening fallout from Mr. Trump’s rise to power became apparent during the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily, over the weekend. While the Paris Climate Change Agreement of December 2015 did nothing to address the issue, it did acknowledge the reality of the threat that climate change poses. This may be the final opportunity to prevent the worst of it from happening.
  • Mr. Trump, like many Republicans, denies the existence of the danger. The idea that the government might need to take forceful and coordinated action is something he just cannot accept. Therefore, the concept of environmental boundaries is entirely foreign to him. If the United States were hopeful and confident, it would rise to the challenge of conquering such obstacles. Poor Mr. Trump, he is not the voice of the United States. International sanctions would be necessary in the event that the United States pulled out of the Paris Agreement.


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