Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day. This week’s question: What Do You Feel Are America’s Chief Foreign Policy Challenges In The Near Future, And Why?
Liberty’s Spirit: There are a myriad of foreign policy threats facing this nation. Whether the United States wants to lead or not, it is still the strongest nation on the globe with the responsible for facilitating the free flow of economies in order to prevent the outbreak of a true world war. The jockeying of growing powers creates an unstable volatile world that lends itself to the rise of extremism both in the financial markets and politics. When international leaders see a weak and unstable world they try to fill the global vacuum. When this is done by third world dictatorships and oligarchical tyrannies it does not mean freedom for the rest of the globe.
Middle East: rise of Islamism; shiite verus Sunni wars; Nuclear Iran threatening the oil channels to the west, Sunni states and Israel will not allow Iran to threaten their existence.
Europe: Implosion of the European Union,along with growth in nationalistic racist ideology specifically antisemitism and Islamism; culture war will end up with terrorism and a dead Europe. Europe has traditionally been a part of the USA support system worldwide, but through fear of Russia and their own growing radicalism will allow the US to stand alone, if the US ever finds its backbone again. (Of course this truly isn’t anything new as the EU did not stand up to the Soviets except for Thatcher and allowed antisemitism to flourish especially during the 70s and 80s.)
China: aggressive posture vis-a-vis important sea lanes particularly the South China Sea, which controls the economic viability of the planet; threatening Japan and Taiwan; however economically weak at home, which will lead to an economic implosion, which could lead to a more aggressive nationalistic posture in the region. The aggressive economic policies has seen a rapid and unprecedented growth in the cities however it has also led to an ecological disaster in most of the nation.
Russia: Putin’s desire to recreate the Russian Empire is a threat to Europe which is dependent upon Russia for natural gas; Russia has already invaded Georgia, giving it the Black Sea Port that it needed; Russia trying to flex muscles in the Middle East, supports aggressive behavior by Iran towards the Sunni nations and the western dependent oil lanes. This way Russia thinks it can hold the entire world hostage.
South America: Major nations Venezuela and Ecuador are economic disasters and ticking time bombs. These nations also export terror into South America on behalf of Iran trying to destabilize this one mostly stable area.
Mexico: economic basketcase, with life valve to the united States. Drug cartels basically run the country. Irony is that Mexico is an oil producer and was terribly mismanaged through corruption and graft. Already effecting the southern border of the USA economically and through violent crimes.
Africa: Poverty, civil wars and the tyrannies of dictatorships have led to the depletion of Africa’s natural resources to corrupt companies and nations like China. The horn of Afica is a breeding ground of radical Islam as seen in the Westgate Mall massacre, meanwhile North Africa is volatile due to the rise and fight agaisnt Islamism and the Moslem Brotherhood/al-Qaeda. The sea lanes around Africa are essential to the free flow of goods, partical oil out of the Arabian gulf. Somali pirates combined with Islamists make this area of the world more and more dangerous. South Africa is highly unstable and considered the rape capital of the world (India and SA are actually in competition for this moniker) and its economy is in shambles because of the ANC’s allegiance to communist ideology. Then there is Mugabe and is hold onto power. The civil war in teh Congo has resulted in a generation of child soldiers and a violent society. The rise of Islamism has put Christians at risk on the continent. Poachers and those in the blood-diamond trade take advantage of the volatility of the continent to continue their abuses. Slavery is very common in the mines and on the continent to this day.
India/Pakistan: The economic growth is stratospheric. however, it is also very unstable. This part of the world is caught between ancient cultures and modern technology and economies. There are two classes, the extraordinarily rich and the poor. This has led to a growth in Islamism and terrorism. Pakistan is one of the most unstable nations on the planet that is also a nuclear power. While the USA has tried to maintain an edge in that country the ISI is infiltrated by al-Qaeda as seen by its harboring of Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban in the Pashtun regions. This is a dangerous and implosive situation for the subcontinent.
East Asia: The economies of these nations are booming. They are perhaps one of the areas of the world that is economically viable (outside of Israel which had a 5% growth rate last year). However, they are facing a growing Islamist insurgence (Philippines have been dealign with this for deacdes) and it is begining to effect output and these nations world wde interactions. An attempt to modernize and bring in western culture has been met with Islamist threats and a terror campaign.
The irony here is that the more the world is economically interconnected instead of it bringing freedoms to the majority of nations of the world it has led to more and more repression. It is counterintuitve to what political scientist believed would happen when the markets opened internationally. When an organization like the United Nations, which is a microcosm of global realities, is basically run by third world oligarchies and dictatorships there is no reason to believe that the political and economic situation worldwide will improve any time soon. In fact the United Nations is pushing for less and less freedoms worldwide on the behest of their strongest political blocs. Whether the UN, through the OIC, is pushing a global law to prevent freedom of speech by outlawing condemnation of Islam, hence making Sharia Law paramount globally, and curtailing individual/private ownership of weapons, which is something any dictator or tyrant seeks, international organizations are abandoning the internationally recognized idea of human rights.
GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: Simple. Yet not simplistic.
At great risk of appearing all NeoConic on your assets the greatest buzzkill issue will be unfun and unfree illegit regimes. Despots and despotries. Whether a collectivist state like China, corrupt royalty in Ray Bans, Generals or Presidents For Life. They kill more of their own citizens than foreigners. They cause the refugee flows; they cause the poverty; they cause all of the problems au courrant.
Look at the current crop of dictator cats running from NoKo through China in an unbroken arc through Central Asia, on again/off again Pakistan, the Middle East, North Africa, and down to Angola, with three dictatorships: Belarus, Haiti, and Cuba; if you look at that those 43 men, no women (there are no lady dictators -happy to report); Look at what they are doing today—once again they are the cause of refugee flows; they are the cause of terrorism, direct and indirect; they are the cause of wars; they are the cause of poverty, in Africa, particularly, but also in the Middle East, where the World Bank recently has shown that if you could have normal governance, democratic governance in the Middle East, that there would be a real spurt in economic growth as well.
They are the root of all of our problems.
Despots are together and individually the major security threat to Great Satan, to their neighbors, and to the world.
Contrast that with a world, a 21st century, with no dictators. What would a world without dictators be like? What would it mean in terms of the lives of ordinary people in these 43 countries? What would it mean for American security? What would it mean for prosperity? What would it mean for refugees, environment, drugs, and terrorism—every single category you can think about?
A world without dictators in all likelihood is a world without war. It is a world in which religious differences can be reconciled; it is a world of tolerance; it is a far better world. There might be competition, which is a good thing. There might be pushing and shoving, yet there would not be large scale violence.
JoshuaPundit: In looking at the world today, I think the main foreign policy challenge America faces is not from out side but from within – leadership, plain and simple, leadership to get both our domestic and foreign policy houses in order. We have had three presidents in a row whom have been mostly dysfunctional when it comes to foreign policy.
The strong, intelligent leadership of a world power attracts allies and cooperation. Clueless incompetence and weakness repels them, as the current occupant of the White House has amply demonstrated.
The trick is not to attempt to change governments, or to attempt to indulge in nation building, because some nations culturally and politically simply function in different ways than we’re accustomed to. We tried that in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq and our efforts cost American blood and treasure with no benefit for either stability in the region, the local population or our own policy goals. Nor is it a good idea to retreat into fortress America. That simply doesn’t work anymore.
Britain, a small overpopulated island unable to feed its own domestic population maintained itself as a world power and held on to a huge empire for centuries by a judicious use of its military power and by finding nation states and in some cases tribal chiefs willing to ‘police’ and represent its interests as allies or clients. Rome did the same.
Both made errors in judgement, but essentially that formula worked quite well for quite some time, as it has for America when we’ve had leadership and foreign policy teams with the intelligence and ability to practice it.
On the plus side, at this particular time we still have little real competition, so we have an actual opportunity to maintain our position provided we actually get leadership that understands this.
Both Russia and China face severe demographic challenges and both would swap problems with the U.S. in a heartbeat. China’s one child policy ( and the inbred preference for sons over daughters) has insured that China, which is still a Third World country in a number of aspects will grow older and poorer before it grows richer. In Russia, something like 70% of pregnancies to ethnic Russian send in abortion, while the only segment of the population still growing is Muslims. While that in itself poses a problem, it is not a near term one and a greater problem for Russia ( which has been fighting Muslims for 400 years) than for us.
Problems like Iran and of resurgent Islamism are problems more because our dysfunctional leadership has refused to deal with them properly than because of any inherent power they possess. Islamism in particular has proven to be a dismal failure once the locals in places like Tunisia and Egypt got a good whiff of what Qu’ran-based fascism smelled like.
After the Muslim Brotherhood was booted out of Qatar and Egypt, the running joke was that the only Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers left were in Gaza and Washington DC.
The key to America’s foreign policy challenges is leadership.
The Glittering Eye: Going forward the primary foreign policy challenge facing the United States is, as it has been for most of our history, deciding what role we wish to play in the world.
We have no near-peers so a military preparing for conflict with a high tech near-peer is hopelessly out of date. How much in the form of lives, money, time, and attention should we spend opposing enemies who don’t constitute a threat to us but do threaten creaky regimes that aren’t particularly friendly to us? E. g. Afghanistan, Pakistan. I don’t have an answer for that but do think it’s an important question.
Today China is chafing under the “Americanized” world in which the U. S. is the irreplaceable country whose currency is the world’s exchange currency by default. Tomorrow it will be Russia, Brazil, India, and any other economic powerhouses that may emerge.
The future is likely to hold fewer friends for us and more “frenemies”. I see few signs that an economically and demographically stressed United Kingdom will be as reliable a supporter of U. S. foreign policy goals in the 21st century that it was in the second half of the 20th, joining notional allies like Germany and France.
Should we pivot east towards Europe or west towards Asia? I think a better choice might be south but our Latin American neighbors look on us with a certain amount of reasonable suspicion which for some reason they don’t hold for our European (who’ve actually colonized the region in the past) or Asian (who are even now renting major tracts of land beyond their borders, colonization by another name) competitors.
Well, there you have it.
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