US Isolationism & The Old World Order
US Isolationism & The Old World Order: The man who wrote this editorial understands something that Europe takes for granted and the Paleo-Conservatives in the US just don’t grasp. Here’s the essence of what he had to say…
Since the end of the Cold War, the US’s grand strategy has been to maintain its overwhelming military, political and economic pre-eminence. For that, we should be thankful – not because the strategy has been remotely designed with Ireland’s interests in mind, but because, as a by-product of US dominance, we have flourished economically, intellectually, politically and socially. Until now, the Americans have acquiesced in that grand strategy because the costs appeared to be tolerably low.
Today,with its armies at the gates of Baghdad, its alliances fractured and its popularity plummeting, America stands at a crossroads, and may be close to reassessing the grand strategy. If it does not win this war in Iraq totally and decisively in the next few weeks, it may conclude that its critics in Europe are right and that its very standing is the source of international political resentment.
The US could well begin to abandon its grand strategy and gradually wind down its commitments worldwide. This would be very damaging for Ireland, and for Europe. In our own interests, we should hope the US wins in the Gulf, and wins well. Otherwise, we should consider the alternative to the present status quo.
…By providing security for Britain, France, Germany and Japan, by defending their interests in far-flung places like the Gulf, and by intricately involving them in a system of mutually enhancing alliances, Washington prevented any of the old powers from ploughing their own furrow. This global policy, which is known as “reassurance”, has cost the Americans billions of dollars. It has also facilitated unprecedented levels of economic, political and social cooperation among the states of western Europe with the EU and east Asia…Make no mistake, without the US security blanket, the EU would never have evolved into the peaceful structure it is now, of which Ireland is a member and from which it benefits greatly.
…Underneath this American military umbrella, the economies of Europe and Asia have flourished at unprecedented rates. The system that the US has fostered has led to enormous improvements in the standard of living for most of us. Politically, Ireland has been able to express itself in Europe, feeling like an equal at the top table. Do you think this would have been possible in an EU dominated by the military aspirations of France, Britain, Germany, Italy or Spain? No way, Jose.
…We arguably benefit much more from the Pax Americana than the Yanks do themselves. For small countries it is the ultimate free lunch: we get peace without humiliation, for the first time in history. In contrast, the medium-sized old powers have been made to dine on humble pie – and this, in my book, is no bad thing. At the same time, the US leans sufficiently on the likes of Pakistan and India to keep them from pushing the button.”
For all the carping about the power and influence of the US, the world would be infinitely worse off without a dominant power exerting its influence across the world. In fact, the prosperity and safety that Europe and the more successful parts of Asia enjoy today could not have occurred without the security provided by the United States. Our dominance and willingness to act have allowed other nations not only to grow economically, but to largely forego building the types of militaries that would give them the OPTION to let’s say go “adventuring”.
Our power also helps keep other nations militarily in check. Some like China & perhaps even Russia & Iran might be interested in scarfing up their weaker neighbors. Others like Israel and India might be interested in settling old scores or protecting themselves from future threats. Others like France, Germany, & Japan might start to feel those old “imperialist urges” if they became preeminent powers. It’s better not to find out.
That being said, Americans tend to be isolationists at heart and the friendly if indifferent attitude most Americans felt pre-9/11 towards much of the world has been changing, slowly, but surely for the worse. France is genuinely loathed by many Americans and calls to pull our troops out of Germany & South Korea are no longer faint or on the margins of American politics. As a matter of fact, were I the leader of a nation that depended heavily on the US for my country’s security, I would be bending over backwards to show my support for the US right now because I suspect we’ll be looking to trim our military obligations over the coming decade.
Many Americans have lost faith in the “international system” touted by Europe while simultaneously coming to realize that all the “good will” we thought we’d earned over the last century accounted for very little when we needed help. So it’s likely that America is going to become more isolationist in the coming years and quite frankly, I fear that the world will come to regret it.