President Donald Trump’s actions towards the United States’ Western European allies, such as his mocking of German energy policy at the U.N., left relations strained, with a lasting impact even under President Joe Biden, but this may have been because of a structural reason that no one saw. Namely, Western Europe’s place and significance in the international system has declined since the beginning of the 20th century, leaving not only its future relationship with America, but also its future as a whole, ambiguous.
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Since the beginning of the year, the White House has been crowing about progress made against inflation, as recently as a few days ago. Unfortunately, even if the numbers do not lie — and there has certainly been discussion about the extent to which current calculations are truly representative of inflation rates — this story is not likely to remain true for much longer.
For the past few years, there has been increasing discussion in the foreign policy community about Washington’s role in the Global South: an often neglected part of international relations. With the primacy of the United States waning in institutions like the United Nations and in the Global South —17 African states abstained from a vote condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and one voted against it — the necessity for Washington to regain soft power influence over the region has been under a spotlight, as the United States seeks to preserve the global liberal order. Now, the time has come for a coordinated Africa strategy.
Empires are built out of chaos, and when they fall, chaos often replaces them. As we soon may learn, this lesson applies to Russia and its periphery. Ever since the 19th century, Moscow has ruled over the Caucasus mountains, much of Central Asia and its Far East territories, and to this day has remained the regional security guarantor in the post-Cold War era. But now, ever since the Russia-Ukraine war exposed the weaknesses of Russian military force, its authority in the region has significantly deteriorated. Unfortunately, it is likely that this slackening will only lead to intensified geopolitical competition. Besides the Caucasus and potential internal security problems, the Central Asian states are where this is most likely to occur.
In the waning weeks of 2022, a video circulated online of Chinese and Indian troops stationed in the Himalayas engaging one another with sticks as weapons. The clash happened near the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh, part of the disputed territory between the two states. Although this belligerent behavior seems par for the course, combined with other recent foreign policy moves by the Chinese government, the clashes in the Himalayas actually highlight a potential new or refocused strategy for China.
In the frenzy of reporting on Joe Biden’s neglect of classified documents, the media seemed to forget about the president’s visit to Mexico. However, as recent news indicates, the backdrop of that event may shape up to be the most pressing threat to U.S. national security.
The next three decades — at least — in global politics are bound to be a wild ride. Even if my previous columns are incorrect in their predictions — and I do hope that the scale of the global collapse and regional conflicts to come will not be as devastating as I fear — the major trends of depopulation, deglobalization and the result of the regionalization of economics, politics and security remain certain. Another almost-certain constant, though, is the United States’ primacy. What should the United States do with all this remaining power, and its relative position in the international system?
As is likely evident from my prior articles, I reject the oft-stated predictions of the decline of American power. In fact, I believe American primacy will remain a fact of international affairs, and not just because many other nations may soon see their gains from globalization wiped out.
The security architecture of the world will soon be changed as the United States somewhat recedes from its role as guarantor of global security and challengers seek regional hegemony to take advantage of America’s apparent weakness. The two main trends I have pointed to, the fracturing of critical supply chains and global depopulation, are depleting resources across the globe, and subsequent increasing scarcity enforces the feeling by states of being forced to play their hands before they lose the power to do so.
In this column, we come to the heart of the matter. Due to deglobalization and the breakdown of fragile global supply chains, major sectors — especially agriculture — will see reshuffling and deterioration over the next few years.
Of the points raised in my last piece concerning the origins of the globalized system, the most relevant to today’s affairs may be the fact that free trade has sprung up under American auspices — particularly the exertion of naval supremacy as the U.S. Navy underpins 90% of global commerce, or over $4.6 trillion worth of trade. However, the lack of a navy with true supremacy in our global system furthers the argument that our experiment in globalization is doomed to fall apart. This article will, consequently, serve as a review of global navies and their ability to protect the sea lanes of trade and communication.
To understand the end of globalization, we need to go back to its beginnings. Shockingly, our current global system is less than 80 years old, and an aberration rather than the norm.
For at least the last half decade, it’s seemed like the world has been in a constant state of failure for most observers of the news. To liberals in the United States, much of this has been pinned on the unexpected and largely unprecedented rise of Donald Trump to the presidency and the devolution of much of the Republican base into cult-of-personality MAGA politics.
A recent case study that signals the breakdown of the globalized system is the crisis in Sri Lanka. To those who observe from the sidelines, it seems that the crisis flared up on July 9, when demonstrators stormed the presidential palace. This sequence of events forced then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee to the Maldives and eventually step down from his position, handing it over to Ranil Wickremesinghe, a veteran of the political scene.
In an earlier opinion article for the Daily, I argued that the Biden administration has an empty foreign policy when it comes to uniting prominent democracies around common interests, as exemplified by the fallout over AUKUS’ betrayal of France in a submarine missile deal. Recent events in Sudan, and the lack of a coherent response thus far, highlight how the emptiness of Biden’s ideological commitments extends not only to unifying established democratic nations but to protecting fledgling democracies as well.
A century ago, the Ottoman Empire was ridiculed as the sick man of Europe. This is no longer the case. Among the great powers which I have detailed as likely to return to the scene, Turkey is one I am especially bullish on.
The French are known to possess a bit of a superiority complex; they think their food is better, their wines are better, their cheeses are better, and they think their way of doing politics is better too. This isn’t entirely without a cause; historically, France’s sphere of influence has been formidable, extending at various times from encompassing most of Western Europe to possessing colonies in the Americas, India, France and Southeast Asia. In an age of monumental political changes with the absence of waning American influence, it almost makes instinctive sense that France would continue to be among the nations that rise above the rest.
Welcome to the second installation of a two-part series on Japan’s grand strategy and future as a great power. The first part can be found here.
Since the end of the Second World War, Japan has been a secondary power unwilling to exert the hard power associated with great power status, with a constitution “[renouncing] war as a sovereign right of the nation.” However, after this recent period of military isolationism characterized by the Yoshida doctrine — which passed responsibility for Japanese security policy to the U.S. — Japan is primed to enter another expansionist phase, although the form, extent and characteristics of this expansionism have not yet been settled.
To many within the Washington foreign policy establishment and even the public at large, the idea of India as a future great power has been accepted as a foregone conclusion since the days of BRICS. However, much of the thinking behind why this is the case has been obscured, as have the substantial challenges that India will face in the process of rising to regional hegemony.