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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fiscal difficulties shake American faith in hegemonic strategy....

Money makes the mare go was never as true as it is in these difficult times. The United States of America has spent substantial amount of time and money in containing communism and promoting democratic values and virtues of the free market. But after the end of bipolarity, American drive to expand democracy and globalization to other lands is running out of steam, largely for fiscal reasons.  The experts advise the USA to adopt a smart strategy and instead of senseless spending on National security Strategy, it should simply improve it. In the words of an article in Financial Times, “given fiscal difficulties, it (USA) also needs to rely on a better strategy, rather than simply spending more”. The paper says that for the past 70 years the US has sought to lead and expand an open, democratic international order.
During the cold war it promoted multilateralism in the west and waged a long struggle against the Soviet Union. Since 1991 it encouraged expansion of globalization and democracy, although in very different ways under President Bill Clinton and the two presidents Bush. This era of expansion is drawing to a close. China shows no signs of democratizing as it grows wealthier. The financial crisis has undermined the lure of open markets. And difficult wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have made Americans skeptical of nation building and promoting democracy. The pre-eminent question now for US policymakers is how to preserve the American-led international order amid a series of dramatic geopolitical changes. Can emerging powers, especially China, be accommodated without rendering useless the core tenets of the international order? Should the US be preparing to do more or less abroad as its relative power declines?
President Barrack Obama’s actions to maintain the current Pacific order are a step in the right direction, but he still lacks a strategic “roadmap”. His 2010 National Security Strategy of May 2010 which was largely driven by economic considerations looks out of date after the change of course in Asia. The key to America’s future security was to hinge on its ability to reinvent its rusting domestic economy. In contrast to Mr. Bush’s controversial first national security strategy (NSS) in 2002, which issued an aggressive call to prolong the US’s hegemony even by undertaking pre-emptive wars, Mr. Obama’s first take brings the US back to more traditional ways of conducting foreign policy. Perhaps the biggest difference with the Bush era is in its emphasis on US economic renewal.
It assumes that emerging powers want to become responsible stakeholders and offers no plan to deal with them if they don’t. The result is incoherence in US strategic thought which will ultimately create a dysfunctional foreign policy. The Obama administration should continue to engage emerging powers, but it now needs a new strategy of preservation to ensure the current international order can withstand external pressures and function effectively, even if a major power, such as China, decides to undermine it. To do this the US needs to build new geopolitical partnerships and alliances; Indonesia and India are good candidates.
It must seek European support for core principles of openness, including freedom of the seas, space and cyberspace, to be upheld even if China and others encroach upon them. It should give more influence to nations willing to take on greater responsibilities in tackling shared problems – including South Korea, and on certain issues Vietnam and Turkey – and pressure those who do not. Given fiscal difficulties, it also needs to rely on a better strategy, rather than simply spending more. As Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa wrote in his novel The Leopard: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”

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