View Poll Results: In the broadest of terms, which of the following most closely describes your geopolitical expectations for the post-US world order?

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36. You may not vote on this poll
  • A truly multipolar reorientation of geopolitics with few or no globally dominant “great powers.”

    9 25.00%
  • A division of the world into “spheres of influence” dominated by authoritarian powers (China, Russia, Iran, for example)

    8 22.22%
  • The US will remain globally dominant thanks to King Dollar and its sheer size, even if politically or militarily weaker relative to its turn of the century peak.

    12 33.33%
  • The EU will pull itself together, emerge from the US’ shadow, neutralize Russian interests on its doorstep, and Europe will once again carry the torch of the liberal/western world order.

    2 5.56%
  • Other (please explain)

    5 13.89%
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Thread: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

  1. #1
    Legio_Italica's Avatar Lost in Limbo
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    Default On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    I wanted to start this thread as more of a guided community thought exercise than as a debate thread. However, if disagreements on matters of fact become apparent, then let the chips fall where they may. I certainly have my own opinions as I’ll detail below, but I want to foster as much meaningful discussion as a speculative topic might allow.


    With talk of a US in decline becoming increasingly mainstream, I thought the best way to capture opinions on a variety of timely subjects might be in relation to that theme. On paper, there is little to suggest the US is in danger of forfeiting its status as the world’s sole superpower. Its military might is supreme, the dollar is the common currency of international commerce, and the economy shows little sign of risking a major catastrophe in the foreseeable future. I would argue, however, that it doesn’t take much digging to question those assumptions in the near term.


    I don’t necessarily expect China to be able to “out-‘Merica America” and literally take our place at the head of nations, regardless of whatever her ultimate ambition may be. I do, however, believe a convergence of factors has already begun a major shift that few, if any in US leadership, seem to fully consider. I’ll sort these factors as follows:


    Military


    Victory in the Cold War left the US military with unquestionable power and global reach. Political and world events led to a new mandate in which the US ostensibly committed to stamping out Islamic terror, with unclear objectives and mixed results.


    30 years after the fall of the USSR, the US military is not as omnipotent as it once was. The lack of a clear mandate from the federal government has left the military ill equipped to face a new generation of consequently asymmetrical threats. Aging tech and hardware, combined with sprawling commitments in the Middle East, has produced a crisis of military readiness against peer competitors like China. Increasingly isolationist, domestically focused politics at home, coupled with alliances strained by “America First,” have amplified this risk. There is no longer any guarantee that the US could emerge victorious if forced to sustain an open conflict against a determined coalition of ambitious enemies, especially if the latter has first strike advantage.


    Will decades of sustained cyber warfare and espionage against the US and its allies eventually reveal a global shift in the balance of power?
    Will new or asymmetrical tactics allow US adversaries to expand and consolidate regional ambitions on a permanent basis?
    Will a major conflagration of great powers bring down US supremacy and lead to the rise of a new superpower?
    Will the US’ gradual decline allow for the development of a multipolar, decentralized balance of power in the world?


    Politics


    Following the Cold War, the US increasingly took its status for granted. By the time China, Russia, and various Islamist regimes firmly disproved the theory that economic globalization would gradually ensure worldwide political liberalization, US leaders seemed to have no Plan B for foreign policy.


    Political turmoil in the US has compounded a lack of cohesion with its traditional allies in the face of increasing coordination between ascendant authoritarian powers. Neither Democrats nor Republicans seem to be interested in shoring up the traditional world order. If anything, Trump’s “America First” mantra and the Democrats’ singular focus on placating the isolationist plank in their voting base appear likely to accelerate this trend. This doesn’t seem like good news for Pax Americana.


    Will “America First” and leftward US political trends toward isolationism eventually break apart the post-WW2 network of US allies?
    Will declining US influence allow Europe to play a more global role, as its increasing divergence from US policy suggests?
    Will individual nation states be able to chart their own path, or will aggressive US adversaries like China, Russia and Iran exert growing hegemony?
    Putin famously declared that “liberalism is dead.” Will a post-US world order fit such a prediction, or will the legacy of Anglo-American democratic norms persist?


    Economy


    The US is in the midst of its longest sustained economic expansion in history. Yet, a growing political consensus that the real gains of this expansion were captured disproportionately by Capital relative to Labor threatens to unleash unprecedented political changes to the US economy. At a time when China’s economic ascension is reasonably assured, and US adversaries are leading a trend of divestment from USD, these potential changes could accelerate a shift in the global economic order.


    Diversification away from the US’ economic dominance is not necessarily a threat in and of itself. However, Democrats and Republicans seem to be increasingly united behind historically high levels of public spending, mercantilism and trade protectionism. This threatens the US’ ability to maintain its traditional commitment to globalization.


    A convergence of these trends will not only open windows of opportunity for US adversaries to dislodge her singular leverage over the global economy, it may also play into the decline of King Dollar. The latter may, in turn, undermine the US’ privileged status as the world’s financial safe haven, which traditionally shields it from global instability and allows it to finance unlimited public debt. If the engine of US power falters, there’s little to suggest it could avoid a permanent decline if not a crisis.


    Will advances in financial tech, global trends, and the coordinated efforts of US adversaries gradually succeed in convincing banks and markets to abandon the dollar?
    If yes, will this trend, coupled with low-tax, high-spend US domestic policies, turn ballooning public deficits into an economic “Achilles heel?”
    Will China succeed in its ambitions to harness the lessons of western capitalism and power its authoritarian economic model to global supremacy?
    Will globalization necessitate a re-concentration of economic dominance elsewhere, or foster multi-polarization?


    Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment on any of the above, or introduce your own related topics.

  2. #2

    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    Will decades of sustained cyber warfare and espionage against the US and its allies eventually reveal a global shift in the balance of power?
    Will new or asymmetrical tactics allow US adversaries to expand and consolidate regional ambitions on a permanent basis?
    Will a major conflagration of great powers bring down US supremacy and lead to the rise of a new superpower?
    Will the US’ gradual decline allow for the development of a multipolar, decentralized balance of power in the world?
    1. I don't see how we can reverse the trend from uni-polarity to multi-polarity.
    2. They already have. Well, I suppose I'd have to ask you define what you mean by "permanence"? What is the time scale? Is something like the annexation of Crimea a rather permanent affair? Is Turkish geopolitical behavior a permanent blow to NATO?
    3. No, I doubt it. Instead of a new superpower, we will simply be back to Great Power politics of the 19th century. Many already claim that those dynamics are back, but I would argue we can still reverse that trend.
    4. Currently, it looks like the political establishment is perfectly fine with allowing that to happen. The 21st century is marked by either a disastrous foreign policy, or a weak one.


    Will “America First” and leftward US political trends toward isolationism eventually break apart the post-WW2 network of US allies?
    Will declining US influence allow Europe to play a more global role, as its increasing divergence from US policy suggests?
    Will individual nation states be able to chart their own path, or will aggressive US adversaries like China, Russia and Iran exert growing hegemony?
    Putin famously declared that “liberalism is dead.” Will a post-US world order fit such a prediction, or will the legacy of Anglo-American democratic norms persist?
    1. It won't break up NATO or sour US-EU relationship in my opinion. To be fair, it's very hard to tell where the trend is going. Either Trump's doctrine, or current progressive candidates can take all of these relationships in either way.
    2. France is likely to see a resurgence in its foreign policy. Currently it has the biggest geopolitical footprint in Europe. The Franco-German alliance is probably going to dominate Europe with little effective pushback. Both the Southern periphery, and Eastern populists will try to play around the idea of gathering more sovereignty, but neither area has the resources to actually do so.
    3. The only hope for challenging rising regional/global powers is for an establishment Democrat to sit in the Oval office. Neither the progressive wing of the party, nor Trump, show much interest in an active foreign policy. The current rise of these powers has less to do with US blunders (despite the naysayers) and much more to do with America's retreat from foreign policy. For all of Bush's faults, he made America's presence known.
    4. If Liberalism is dead, then Communism is alive. The rise of populism eroded at many democratic institutions, but it's entirely possible that "liberalism" will return with a vengeance. A lot will be cleared up by 2020 elections.

    Will advances in financial tech, global trends, and the coordinated efforts of US adversaries gradually succeed in convincing banks and markets to abandon the dollar?
    If yes, will this trend, coupled with low-tax, high-spend US domestic policies, turn ballooning public deficits into an economic “Achilles heel?”
    Will China succeed in its ambitions to harness the lessons of western capitalism and power its authoritarian economic model to global supremacy?
    Will globalization necessitate a re-concentration of economic dominance elsewhere, or foster multi-polarization?


    Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment on any of the above, or introduce your own related topics.


    1. No. On the contrary, the growing weakness of the Euro, which is the second largest financial market after the US Dollar, will only shift more capital to be denominated in USD. Advances in technology have certainly lead to a rise in cryptocurrency and mobile money. Both are subservient to the dollar. Crypto-bonds, for example, are used to raise capital in USD. Mobile money, is simply a method of storing USD for places where financial institutions are absent.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    There is no indication that the dollar is declining. This may change in the future as technology advances further of course, but currently, the only thing technology did, is make AML/CFT controls more difficult to implement.
    2. The world revolves around debt. A ballooning federal deficit is unlikely to actually endanger the economy even two presidential terms in. What is, in my opinion, much more interesting question to ask, is how would massive US surpluses impact the global economy.
    3. Too hard to answer. China is currently at its zenith of growth and it will reach its peak workforce soon. As factors turn against China, as its Forex declines, as its population starts aging, as Vietnam, Burma, and Africa start challenging China's low-cost goods... That will be an interesting thing to witness. Whether China can survive its own medicine.
    4. Both. It is likely that once we achieve a stable international system again (rather than the current turmoil), wealth will once again concentrate in core regions. Western Europe, United States, and China. The difference will be, is that both China and EU will focus on their own regional trade networks, rather than the global system. To elaborate, what we saw between late 1980s before the Soviet Union fell apart, and 2016, is a massive expansion of global trade, specifically, trade between regional hubs like EU-USA trade, and China-EU-USA trade. Majority of trade, even today, is still within regional blocs. I.e. NAFTA, EU, Asia, etc. Trade is still proximity based. We are likely going to see more focus on such regional networks, rather than global networks.

  3. #3
    Miles
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    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    Quote Originally Posted by Sukiyama View Post
    3. The only hope for challenging rising regional/global powers is for an establishment Democrat to sit in the Oval office. Neither the progressive wing of the party, nor Trump, show much interest in an active foreign policy. The current rise of these powers has less to do with US blunders (despite the naysayers) and much more to do with America's retreat from foreign policy. For all of Bush's faults, he made America's presence known.
    I would argue that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still damaged American interests in the long term by letting over 120,000 soldiers get bogged down in relatively large insurgencies in both countries, leading the U.S to mostly shy away from any large military invasion for perhaps the next decade or couple of decades and distracted it from developments in China and Russia during the 2000s.

  4. #4

    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    America did not win the cold war, it just didn't lose it. It's similar to WW1 in which Germany lost but the allies didn't really win either.

    The USSR imploded but all of America's focus and millitary expenditure was put into facing off against the reds without actualy ever being used or even justified. America has not had a significant military success since WW2. Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam have all been defeats or hollow victories.

    As a result Americans are in a weird place right now, with no big enemy to face off against and so many internal problems that the administration can't pull the "ignore domestic failures, look big red bad guy, focus on him" trick anymore. This has rather forced an isolationist position while they fix things.

    Historicly it's happened before, prior to WW1and WW2, it did work ot well for the yanks to be fair. I think America taking an isolationist stance while it sorts out domestic issues will be good for everyone in the long term.

  5. #5
    Vanoi's Avatar Dux Limitis
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    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    @rifleman

    You forgot Iraq 1991. Technically a success. Isolationism is catching on with the left wing candidates but its a muth the US was isolationist previous to the World Wars. The US has been involved in foreign adventures since the Barbary Wars. I don't think its possible especially now for the US to take an isolationist stance with this highly globalized world.

  6. #6

    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    Quote Originally Posted by Vanoi View Post
    @rifleman

    You forgot Iraq 1991. Technically a success. Isolationism is catching on with the left wing candidates but its a muth the US was isolationist previous to the World Wars. The US has been involved in foreign adventures since the Barbary Wars. I don't think its possible especially now for the US to take an isolationist stance with this highly globalized world.
    Yes and no.

    First, Iraq did not stand a chance, it was a true turkey shoot. No nation other than Russia or China can take America on in conventional warfare.

    Secondly the failure to go further than Kuwait, even if to support the Basra uprising (which came back to bite the coalition in the arse), was a strategic failure.

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    Cookiegod's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    Will decades of sustained cyber warfare and espionage against the US and its allies eventually reveal a global shift in the balance of power?
    Anyone worth his money will tell you that hacks are not attributable to specific countries. This has also been proven by the Vault 7 leak on UMBRAGE, that the CIA has developed specific hacking tools designed to mislead and blame others.
    "Cyber warfare" is not only extremely overhyped, the US & specific US allies, such as Israel, have proven themselves to have probably the strongest capabilities in this sector as well.
    And no, a few hacks aren't enough to shift the global balance of power.
    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    Will new or asymmetrical tactics allow US adversaries to expand and consolidate regional ambitions on a permanent basis?
    Nothing is new about the asymmetric warfare, except the US surprise to themselves become a victim of it. Asymmetric warfare is always the result of asymmetry of power and thus dependent on one side, in this case the US, to be too overpowered for the enemy to even try engage them in a symmetrical manner.
    Asymmetrical warfare has also been employed by the US e.g. in Afghanistan & Nicaragua in the 80s, and since 2011 in a variety of countries, including, but not limited to Syria.

    Asymmetrical warfare however in itself cannot be used to gain territories, but only to deny it/make its occupation more costly. The civil war in Vietnam therefore ended in a conventional war.

    So the answer here is again in short a definite "No."
    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    Will a major conflagration of great powers bring down US supremacy and lead to the rise of a new superpower?
    What superpower would that be? China has issues as well. As does Europe, as does Russia. Your expectation of the US just disappearing from the world stage isn't supported by anything. What is far more likely is a US pivot to the Pacific as envisioned by the Obama administration and as will probably be enforced sooner or later. Obama however, just like Trump, simply couldn't get himself out of the middle east quagmire. Still the wish for a pivot to asia is still very much alive and will continue, no matter who takes the throne in 2020.

    The most likely outcome of that would be weakened US influence over Europe, which it still attempts to control through key strategic states, such as Ukraine and Poland; regional players such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and perhaps UAE (the Emirates are the cautious smart ones) to act more assertive, and Russia and Germany due to their shared interests trying to move closer together. Some of those things have already begun to happen. France and Germany also have that shared wish to rule Europe together (I know it's called the EU, but come on...), but they also have that problem that they don't share that many interests nor problems.
    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    Will the US’ gradual decline allow for the development of a multipolar, decentralized balance of power in the world?
    The multipolar world is already in parts a reality. As for the future, it really depends on which part of the world the US are going to invest their resources in. Obviously the part they'll neglect will have more air to breathe and therefore become more assertive. E.g. the Saudis & Turks in the middle east or Germany in Europe. But the US won't simply disappear from the entire world just because.
    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    Will “America First” and leftward US political trends toward isolationism eventually break apart the post-WW2 network of US allies?
    Isolationism would indubitably harm the network of US client states, though far more important is the US economy. It's not so much the numbers and sizes of US military bases around the world that matter, but export vs import. Many smaller countries, including mine (Denmark) do what they can to stay on the US good side because of the allure of the US domestic market they can expect to make money from. Obviously this is a somewhat broken system. The US cannot remain the lead importer of manufactured goods and still be a healthy economy. Hence Trumps protectionism which, fun fact, could also potentially have happened with a Democrat president.
    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    Will declining US influence allow Europe to play a more global role, as its increasing divergence from US policy suggests?
    There is no "Europe" on the global stage, but Germany, France, UK and the "others". The success of Germany France depends on how well they can continue to work together.
    Macron always tries to appear pro-EU, but has done many things that the Germans aren't so happy about. And the French want many things from the EU which the Germans don't want to give them. The success of the "EU" depends on how well they can continue to collaborate.

    As for Britain, it's impossible for me to predict how it's gonna go for them postbrexit. Everything is possible.
    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    Will individual nation states be able to chart their own path, or will aggressive US adversaries like China, Russia and Iran exert growing hegemony?
    The big individual states are already charting their own path. The smaller ones don't as much and it doesn't even matter that much with them whether the US will stay or not. If necessary, they'll reorient themselves and try find themselves a new framework to work in. Which would more likely mean a new big brother rather than an "own path".
    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    Putin famously declared that “liberalism is dead.” Will a post-US world order fit such a prediction, or will the legacy of Anglo-American democratic norms persist?
    Yeah... That's a soundbyte out of a long interview that people keep ripping out of context.
    Ideologies do change all the time and what was conservative/liberal today wasn't 5-10 years ago.

    Putin wasn't talking about democratic norms anyway, but about immigration with that soundbyte, if I remember that correctly. And current developments are proving him right.
    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    Will advances in financial tech, global trends, and the coordinated efforts of US adversaries gradually succeed in convincing banks and markets to abandon the dollar?
    There's this common, and in my eyes compelling theory about the true cause of the fall of the Roman empire being the collapse of the internal trade due to the crisis in the 3rd empire. Trade didn't recover from that, and the lack of trade meant that the glue of the empire also began to lack. The US role as world currency is somewhat related to that. The US aggressive posture in the world is what makes countries push away from it. Trumps Iran policies have had the side effect that even allies now see the need for independent trade mechanisms.

    From a technical standpoint, the US$ role as a world currency is already an anachronism. There's no other reason for it to continue to exist, other than it being some sort of a habit. So irrespective of Russian & Chinese efforts, the US$ as a world currency will probably (=hopefully) die. But it won't happen anytime soon. The efforts until now have been rather insignificant.
    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    If yes, will this trend, coupled with low-tax, high-spend US domestic policies, turn ballooning public deficits into an economic “Achilles heel?”
    Maybe. I don't know.
    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    Will China succeed in its ambitions to harness the lessons of western capitalism and power its authoritarian economic model to global supremacy?
    Depends on the US and their pivot to Asia, how much of their resources they're going to devote to the "Chinese question". China's economy isn't so superstrong invincible as you might think. It's a colossus, but on clay feet. Similarly to the US, but not necessarily less.

    The US are already doing all in their power (and not only since Trump, but Obama already started that) to shut the Chinese out of global markets. So it also depends on that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    Will globalization necessitate a re-concentration of economic dominance elsewhere, or foster multi-polarization?
    It'll continue to be as always an ebb and flow for all countries. There's no economic superpower on the horison to replace the US just like that, except perhaps for China. But the US efforts to shut the Chinese out of global markets have been and will continue to be at least partially successful. I for one do not think they will replace the US.
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    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPerson2000 View Post
    I would argue that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still damaged American interests in the long term by letting over 120,000 soldiers get bogged down in relatively large insurgencies in both countries, leading the U.S to mostly shy away from any large military invasion for perhaps the next decade or couple of decades and distracted it from developments in China and Russia during the 2000s.
    There were strategic errors for sure. I would also argue, that the largest mistake of the War on Terror was PR. Bush sold the war very poorly. The main reason why the wars were even approved, was due to pressure from 9/11 and the like. Not because Bush was such a silver-tongued devil.

    In fact, I would argue, that done right. The War on Terror would've been a brilliant strategic move to ensure US supremacy in the Middle East for decades to come. Note that I am not somebody who believes in large-scale interventionism. Imo, statecraft and faction-building is far more effective in my opinion.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    Quote Originally Posted by Sukiyama View Post
    There were strategic errors for sure. I would also argue, that the largest mistake of the War on Terror was PR. Bush sold the war very poorly. The main reason why the wars were even approved, was due to pressure from 9/11 and the like. Not because Bush was such a silver-tongued devil.

    In fact, I would argue, that done right. The War on Terror would've been a brilliant strategic move to ensure US supremacy in the Middle East for decades to come. Note that I am not somebody who believes in large-scale interventionism. Imo, statecraft and faction-building is far more effective in my opinion.
    Indeed, the worldwide opinion of the U.S just after 9/11 was very positive, it could have been a massive advantage if the War on Terror had been executed more efficiently.

  10. #10

    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    Quote Originally Posted by 95thrifleman View Post
    Yes and no.

    First, Iraq did not stand a chance, it was a true turkey shoot. No nation other than Russia or China can take America on in conventional warfare.

    Secondly the failure to go further than Kuwait, even if to support the Basra uprising (which came back to bite the coalition in the arse), was a strategic failure.
    We only know that now. Go back to military analysis 30+ years ago, and you will see people questioning just how challenging it would be to defeat Saddam. There were many reasons to believe that Saddam could inflict sufficient casualties to make the war deeply unpopular. Of course now we know that the American military was magnitudes superior to the enemy, that air superiority dictates victory, and that it cemented our status as the sole superpower. Before the Gulf War we all knew that in "theory" America is the only superpower. The Gulf War showed that in practice.

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    Legio_Italica's Avatar Lost in Limbo
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    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    Military


    Quote Originally Posted by Sukiyama View Post
    1. I don't see how we can reverse the trend from uni-polarity to multi-polarity.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sukiyama View Post
    3. No, I doubt it. Instead of a new superpower, we will simply be back to Great Power politics of the 19th century. Many already claim that those dynamics are back, but I would argue we can still reverse that trend.
    4. Currently, it looks like the political establishment is perfectly fine with allowing that to happen. The 21st century is marked by either a disastrous foreign policy, or a weak one.
    That’s interesting. Do you mean that claims of a trend toward multipolarity are premature and overblown to the point of being opposite of the trends you’re seeing? Or do you mean that Great Power politics is just a passing phase due to temporary US instability and outdated hubris? Would you expect isolationism to be a political rule or exception going forward? Decent article on this topic:


    https://nationalinterest.org/feature...ar-world-14964


    2. They already have. Well, I suppose I'd have to ask you define what you mean by "permanence"? What is the time scale? Is something like the annexation of Crimea a rather permanent affair? Is Turkish geopolitical behavior a permanent blow to NATO?

    By “permanence” I mean to present the idea that declining US influence could allow the norms that US adversaries are challenging to eventually become irrelevant altogether.


    For now, instead of steamrolling Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, etc in pursuit of ancient imperial ambitions, China is building islands in contested waters. Instead of full scale invasions of his neighbors, Putin is financing cyberwars and talking about “restoring order” and “protecting the Russian diaspora” as a member of the international community. I might posit a shift from “How can Putin get away with invading the Ukraine?” toward “Who or what is going to stop him, and how?”


    Will territorial and related ambitions become bolder and more traditionally violent in a world where fewer and fewer US adversaries consider the US military and our allies to be a deterrence? Perhaps we’ve already crossed that threshold? And if so, what does it mean for the future of global security?


    Politics


    1. It won't break up NATO or sour US-EU relationship in my opinion. To be fair, it's very hard to tell where the trend is going. Either Trump's doctrine, or current progressive candidates can take all of these relationships in either way.
    2. France is likely to see a resurgence in its foreign policy. Currently it has the biggest geopolitical footprint in Europe. The Franco-German alliance is probably going to dominate Europe with little effective pushback. Both the Southern periphery, and Eastern populists will try to play around the idea of gathering more sovereignty, but neither area has the resources to actually do so.
    Perhaps if the US supports rather than suppresses France’s calls for a European Army, the project could both strengthen US/EU ties and help alleviate some of the logistical and PR problems the US faces when attempting to enforce its security interests in EMEA? Trump’s opposition to the idea seemed more a function of his profound ignorance and bizarre deference to Putin’s interests, rather than a genuine desire to maintain the status quo.
    3. The only hope for challenging rising regional/global powers is for an establishment Democrat to sit in the Oval office. Neither the progressive wing of the party, nor Trump, show much interest in an active foreign policy. The current rise of these powers has less to do with US blunders (despite the naysayers) and much more to do with America's retreat from foreign policy. For all of Bush's faults, he made America's presence known.
    4. If Liberalism is dead, then Communism is alive. The rise of populism eroded at many democratic institutions, but it's entirely possible that "liberalism" will return with a vengeance. A lot will be cleared up by 2020 elections.
    Do you expect a return to “liberal” normalcy even if a Progressive Dem wins in 2020? Currently, the only foreign policy I’ve seen from major 2020 candidates is Trump vs Trump Lite. Warren has even outlined a plan to remake the US in the image of Chinese or EU mercantilism, with an emphasis on protecting low-skilled labor and pulling out of the Middle East. For all their warring over domestic policy, Republicans and Dems seem to be converging on foreign policy, but I could be misreading the situation. Polling suggests Dem voters are blaming the drawbacks of isolationism (strained alliances, growing security threats) on Trump, even as isolationism is becoming an ideological purity test in the Dem primaries.


    Economy


    1. No. On the contrary, the growing weakness of the Euro, which is the second largest financial market after the US Dollar, will only shift more capital to be denominated in USD. Advances in technology have certainly lead to a rise in cryptocurrency and mobile money. Both are subservient to the dollar. Crypto-bonds, for example, are used to raise capital in USD. Mobile money, is simply a method of storing USD for places where financial institutions are absent.
    There is no indication that the dollar is declining. This may change in the future as technology advances further of course, but currently, the only thing technology did, is make AML/CFT controls more difficult to implement.
    Interesting. Given that currency value has psychological and political components, do you expect US instability to be a factor as China and Europe position themselves as “sane” alternatives? Or is this temporary alarmism? The latter sentiment is primarily behind my suggestion that if the US continues to work against globalization rather than leading it, it could drive markets to seek alternatives in order to remain competitive.


    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/07/the-risks-are-rising-that-the-dollar-could-lose-its-special-global-standing.html


    There seems to be a growing consensus among emergent Democratic and Republican leadership that the US should be more protectionist like the EU or China, but I could be misreading the situation.
    2. The world revolves around debt. A ballooning federal deficit is unlikely to actually endanger the economy even two presidential terms in. What is, in my opinion, much more interesting question to ask, is how would massive US surpluses impact the global economy.

    Are you predicting spending cuts, revenue increases, or something else?
    3. Too hard to answer. China is currently at its zenith of growth and it will reach its peak workforce soon. As factors turn against China, as its Forex declines, as its population starts aging, as Vietnam, Burma, and Africa start challenging China's low-cost goods... That will be an interesting thing to witness. Whether China can survive its own medicine.
    4. Both. It is likely that once we achieve a stable international system again (rather than the current turmoil), wealth will once again concentrate in core regions. Western Europe, United States, and China. The difference will be, is that both China and EU will focus on their own regional trade networks, rather than the global system. To elaborate, what we saw between late 1980s before the Soviet Union fell apart, and 2016, is a massive expansion of global trade, specifically, trade between regional hubs like EU-USA trade, and China-EU-USA trade. Majority of trade, even today, is still within regional blocs. I.e. NAFTA, EU, Asia, etc. Trade is still proximity based. We are likely going to see more focus on such regional networks, rather than global networks.
    I would agree China lacks the white hat reputation that allowed the US to advance its interests virtually unchecked outside of the communist bloc, and this will likely check any truly global ambitions.


    On the other hand, even if the US’ 180 on cooperation with China permanently impacts the latter’s export strategy, China still has more than enough population to allow domestic markets to fill the gap if the Politburo is willing to ease its command and control grip. Couple this with currency manipulation and replacement markets, and it will be interesting to see everything play out. In the meantime, the US and its allies seem incapable and unwilling to check China’s regional ambitions, and there is little reason to expect that to change.


    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPerson2000 View Post
    I would argue that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still damaged American interests in the long term by letting over 120,000 soldiers get bogged down in relatively large insurgencies in both countries, leading the U.S to mostly shy away from any large military invasion for perhaps the next decade or couple of decades and distracted it from developments in China and Russia during the 2000s.

    Do you think that impact had more to do with the fact that Iraq is now infamous for having been based on false pretenses, subsequent popular mistrust in the federal government, the rise of conspiracy-driven politics, etc? Or was it mainly a function of war weariness and a failure to achieve the murky objectives of the conflict?
    Quote Originally Posted by 95thrifleman View Post
    America did not win the cold war, it just didn't lose it. It's similar to WW1 in which Germany lost but the allies didn't really win either.
    Quote Originally Posted by 95thrifleman View Post


    The USSR imploded but all of America's focus and millitary expenditure was put into facing off against the reds without actualy ever being used or even justified. America has not had a significant military success since WW2. Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam have all been defeats or hollow victories.


    As a result Americans are in a weird place right now, with no big enemy to face off against and so many internal problems that the administration can't pull the "ignore domestic failures, look big red bad guy, focus on him" trick anymore. This has rather forced an isolationist position while they fix things.


    Historicly it's happened before, prior to WW1and WW2, it did work ot well for the yanks to be fair. I think America taking an isolationist stance while it sorts out domestic issues will be good for everyone in the long term.
    The question is, is isolationism a new normal, or a phase? And if it’s a phase, can the US make up for these lost decades once its finished with its self-imposed sabbatical?
    Quote Originally Posted by Vanoi View Post
    @rifleman
    Quote Originally Posted by Vanoi View Post


    You forgot Iraq 1991. Technically a success. Isolationism is catching on with the left wing candidates but its a muth the US was isolationist previous to the World Wars. The US has been involved in foreign adventures since the Barbary Wars. I don't think its possible especially now for the US to take an isolationist stance with this highly globalized world.
    Interesting. Are you suggesting the US is simply too big too fail? Or that authoritarian aggression will chase the free world back into the US’ corner whether they “like” it or not?


    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Anyone worth his money will tell you that hacks are not attributable to specific countries. This has also been proven by the Vault 7 leak on UMBRAGE, that the CIA has developed specific hacking tools designed to mislead and blame others.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    "Cyber warfare" is not only extremely overhyped, the US & specific US allies, such as Israel, have proven themselves to have probably the strongest capabilities in this sector as well.
    And no, a few hacks aren't enough to shift the global balance of power.
    Nothing is new about the asymmetric warfare, except the US surprise to themselves become a victim of it. Asymmetric warfare is always the result of asymmetry of power and thus dependent on one side, in this case the US, to be too overpowered for the enemy to even try engage them in a symmetrical manner.
    Asymmetrical warfare has also been employed by the US e.g. in Afghanistan & Nicaragua in the 80s, and since 2011 in a variety of countries, including, but not limited to Syria.


    Asymmetrical warfare however in itself cannot be used to gain territories, but only to deny it/make its occupation more costly. The civil war in Vietnam therefore ended in a conventional war.


    So the answer here is again in short a definite "No."
    Would you consider China’s cyber operations to be overhyped? Excluding for a moment reports of China gaining cutting edge military and espionage tech from the US, there is the broader trend of US firms tolerating the theft of intellectual property by Chinese firms and agents for decades as a cost of business in their bid to access Chinese markets.


    https://www.zdnet.com/article/nsa-cy...th-in-history/


    The question isn’t whether the US has equal or superior capabilities, but whether the fact that the US has barely begun to build a public consensus aimed at confronting these threats is too little, too late. Will it have an impact on the balance of power? I understand your assessment is it will not. But I would argue adversaries like China, Russia, and Iran are already leveraging asymmetrical warfare to gain territory and hegemony in ways the US and its allies cannot readily counteract. Is your point that these gains will ultimately not matter in the grand scheme of things, or that the US response will eventually blunt their edge?
    What superpower would that be? China has issues as well. As does Europe, as does Russia. Your expectation of the US just disappearing from the world stage isn't supported by anything. What is far more likely is a US pivot to the Pacific as envisioned by the Obama administration and as will probably be enforced sooner or later. Obama however, just like Trump, simply couldn't get himself out of the middle east quagmire. Still the wish for a pivot to asia is still very much alive and will continue, no matter who takes the throne in 2020.


    The most likely outcome of that would be weakened US influence over Europe, which it still attempts to control through key strategic states, such as Ukraine and Poland; regional players such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and perhaps UAE (the Emirates are the cautious smart ones) to act more assertive, and Russia and Germany due to their shared interests trying to move closer together. Some of those things have already begun to happen. France and Germany also have that shared wish to rule Europe together (I know it's called the EU, but come on...), but they also have that problem that they don't share that many interests nor problems.
    The multipolar world is already in parts a reality. As for the future, it really depends on which part of the world the US are going to invest their resources in. Obviously the part they'll neglect will have more air to breathe and therefore become more assertive. E.g. the Saudis & Turks in the middle east or Germany in Europe. But the US won't simply disappear from the entire world just because.
    Isolationism would indubitably harm the network of US client states, though far more important is the US economy. It's not so much the numbers and sizes of US military bases around the world that matter, but export vs import. Many smaller countries, including mine (Denmark) do what they can to stay on the US good side because of the allure of the US domestic market they can expect to make money from. Obviously this is a somewhat broken system. The US cannot remain the lead importer of manufactured goods and still be a healthy economy. Hence Trumps protectionism which, fun fact, could also potentially have happened with a Democrat president.
    There is no "Europe" on the global stage, but Germany, France, UK and the "others". The success of Germany France depends on how well they can continue to work together.
    Macron always tries to appear pro-EU, but has done many things that the Germans aren't so happy about. And the French want many things from the EU which the Germans don't want to give them. The success of the "EU" depends on how well they can continue to collaborate.


    As for Britain, it's impossible for me to predict how it's gonna go for them postbrexit. Everything is possible.
    The big individual states are already charting their own path. The smaller ones don't as much and it doesn't even matter that much with them whether the US will stay or not. If necessary, they'll reorient themselves and try find themselves a new framework to work in. Which would more likely mean a new big brother rather than an "own path".
    The question isn’t whether the US will disappear from the world stage, but whether its evolving role will shift the global order. US low skilled workers feel ripped off by the globalization led by US policy. US voters are leaning isolationist. US adversaries are already behaving as if the US is a wounded elephant. There are those with ambitions to rival or replace the US’ leadership role.


    If the US doesn’t want to lead, can it escape the world it built around itself? You mentioned trade. Both Republicans and Democrats are becoming more protectionist, abandoning the traditional free trade evangelism the US depends on to maintain its world order. Is this a tacit admission that the era of dominance is already over? A sign of things to come?


    Is your assessment of realignment along regional powers predicated on violence/war, or a natural re-orientation?
    Yeah... That's a soundbyte out of a long interview that people keep ripping out of context.
    Ideologies do change all the time and what was conservative/liberal today wasn't 5-10 years ago.


    Putin wasn't talking about democratic norms anyway, but about immigration with that soundbyte, if I remember that correctly. And current developments are proving him right.
    There's this common, and in my eyes compelling theory about the true cause of the fall of the Roman empire being the collapse of the internal trade due to the crisis in the 3rd empire. Trade didn't recover from that, and the lack of trade meant that the glue of the empire also began to lack. The US role as world currency is somewhat related to that. The US aggressive posture in the world is what makes countries push away from it. Trumps Iran policies have had the side effect that even allies now see the need for independent trade mechanisms.


    From a technical standpoint, the US$ role as a world currency is already an anachronism. There's no other reason for it to continue to exist, other than it being some sort of a habit. So irrespective of Russian & Chinese efforts, the US$ as a world currency will probably (=hopefully) die. But it won't happen anytime soon. The efforts until now have been rather insignificant.
    Do you hope for the world dollar to die for the sake of efficiency and opportunity in a general sense, or for other reasons? Until events progress, right now, the US benefits even from its own instability, because markets rush to store USD as a safe haven in response to economic fears or shocks.
    Depends on the US and their pivot to Asia, how much of their resources they're going to devote to the "Chinese question". China's economy isn't so superstrong invincible as you might think. It's a colossus, but on clay feet. Similarly to the US, but not necessarily less.


    The US are already doing all in their power (and not only since Trump, but Obama already started that) to shut the Chinese out of global markets. So it also depends on that.
    It'll continue to be as always an ebb and flow for all countries. There's no economic superpower on the horison to replace the US just like that, except perhaps for China. But the US efforts to shut the Chinese out of global markets have been and will continue to be at least partially successful. I for one do not think they will replace the US.
    I don’t think they will replace the US either in the way Xi Jinping would like to, but I would argue their domestic market is large enough to potentially keep them in the game, if not power them to the finish line. Do you think the US will succeed in blunting Chinese growth and interests around the world, or will China simply be an Icarus in world history; the victim of its own failed ambitions?

  12. #12
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    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    Do you think that impact had more to do with the fact that Iraq is now infamous for having been based on false pretenses, subsequent popular mistrust in the federal government, the rise of conspiracy-driven politics, etc? Or was it mainly a function of war weariness and a failure to achieve the murky objectives of the conflict?
    It's almost certainly the latter, the U.S was largely unprepared to deal with several long lasting insurgencies whose death tolls for everyone ran into tens or even hundreds of thousands. This can be particularly seen in Iraq where they expected a mostly clean occupation after a quick Desert Storm style invasion, however the situation escalated into what can be described as a somewhat low level civil war by 2006-2008 where you had numerous Sunni and Shiite militias and the Coalition just all fighting each other, making it very difficult to solve the conflict quickly. In Afghanistan, the Taliban rebounded rather quickly by the mid 2000s just after it had lost control of most the country during the invasion, bogging the Coalition and the then new Afghan government down in a sort of a stalemate that continued on for the rest of the war despite a 100,000 American troop surge in 2009, leading to several peace talks since 2010. As a result of the long chaotic nature of these wars and the much higher than expected number of deaths and other casualties, the U.S now mostly favours a largely offhand approach through things like airstrikes although even this approach has backfired with the lack of planning for Libya's future after Qaddafi was deposed, leading the country to experience another civil war just a few years later and the failure to adequately support rebel forces in Syria. Instead of properly capitalising on the War on Terror to cement its influence, the U.S has made one clumsy mistake after another in the Middle East.

  13. #13

    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica View Post
    MilitaryThat’s interesting. Do you mean that claims of a trend toward multipolarity are premature and overblown to the point of being opposite of the trends you’re seeing? Or do you mean that Great Power politics is just a passing phase due to temporary US instability and outdated hubris? Would you expect isolationism to be a political rule or exception going forward? Decent article on this topic:

    https://nationalinterest.org/feature...ar-world-14964
    Not necessarily overblown, I do think we are headed into that direction, but definitely premature. The international system is still intact. Before Trump was in office, Obama still ironed out the Iran nuclear agreement, fostered international cooperation against ISIL, and other various things. Despite Trump's haphazard and brute force approach, he is still bound by many norms of the international system. The way some of these experts talk, you would think that the multipolar world is arriving tomorrow. They are projecting into the future, and if we stay on the same trend, then by 2030-2040 we'll be well on the way to multipolarity.

    But there is nothing to say that we can't reverse it. I also like to say that isolationism isn't really a policy, it's more an attitude or national sentiment. Most Americans today don't actually know what isolationism is. For those reasons, I expect US to simply avoid aggressive interventions. But by no means is America going to completely withdraw itself from the world. That's a fantasy in my eyes.

    By “permanence” I mean to present the idea that declining US influence could allow the norms that US adversaries are challenging to eventually become irrelevant altogether.
    Then yes. A real danger is that France and Germany will succeed in creating an independent power in Europe with a foreign policy completely independent from Washington. Considering the current aversion to war (due to either Republican isolationism and/or Democratic liberalism), other powers like China and Russia will have far more space to maneuver in. 20 years ago, if Russia invaded Kazakhstan, it would be very plausible that U.S. would intervene. Today, I don't we'd even consider something like that. We'd probably send commandos to slow Russians down at best. Chances are, that either a progressive or Trump will win 2020, which may shape the entire discourse on US foreign policy for the next two decades. So it can really go either way.

    For now, instead of steamrolling Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, etc in pursuit of ancient imperial ambitions, China is building islands in contested waters. Instead of full scale invasions of his neighbors, Putin is financing cyberwars and talking about “restoring order” and “protecting the Russian diaspora” as a member of the international community. I might posit a shift from “How can Putin get away with invading the Ukraine?” toward “Who or what is going to stop him, and how?”
    Well my argument is that Putin convinced everyone that he can impose conventional costs upon anyone who gets in his way in Crimea. There really isn't anything to "stop" as Putin's effectively been on the defensive for the last twenty years. The fact that Ukraine, a core state to Russia's sphere of influence, is turning West, should be seen as a big blow against Putin. Putin's seizure of Crimea is an action of desperation, rather than a sign of grand ambitions.

    China is doing the exact same thing. That's just how revisionist powers do things, especially if they militarily inferior. Putin and China are succeeding by sowing discord in the international community. The lack of consensus on these issues cannot be solely be blamed on China and Russia though. A bigger issue is the lack of US leadership on these issues. We were effectively putting fairly strong pressure on Russia before Trump took office, but that's the thing with sanctions and other "war by other means". You have to change and raise these punitive measures. Otherwise, countries like Russia with a strong central state, will simply adapt and get used to the new reality.


    Will territorial and related ambitions become bolder and more traditionally violent in a world where fewer and fewer US adversaries consider the US military and our allies to be a deterrence? Perhaps we’ve already crossed that threshold? And if so, what does it mean for the future of global security?
    Not in Europe. The real battlegrounds will be in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. The Arctic is also coming into play obviously, but it's hard to imagine anyone standing in Russia's way.


    Perhaps if the US supports rather than suppresses France’s calls for a European Army, the project could both strengthen US/EU ties and help alleviate some of the logistical and PR problems the US faces when attempting to enforce its security interests in EMEA? Trump’s opposition to the idea seemed more a function of his profound ignorance and bizarre deference to Putin’s interests, rather than a genuine desire to maintain the status quo.
    Not likely. In my opinion, the interests of USA and Europe don't directly clash, but they also don't directly align. Especially right now, where America's foreign policy is unclear due to vehement polarization of domestic policies. France, who is likely going to be driving European foreign policy, is far more concerned with Africa than with the Middle East. Quite frankly, I don't see Europe caring much at all about the Middle East. It's a PR issue for them, strategically, so long as someone provides oil, Europe is happy. A much more pressing concern for them, is the stability of the European Union and all of these populist leaders rising up who are challenging EU authority.

    Do you expect a return to “liberal” normalcy even if a Progressive Dem wins in 2020? Currently, the only foreign policy I’ve seen from major 2020 candidates is Trump vs Trump Lite. Warren has even outlined a plan to remake the US in the image of Chinese or EU mercantilism, with an emphasis on protecting low-skilled labor and pulling out of the Middle East. For all their warring over domestic policy, Republicans and Dems seem to be converging on foreign policy, but I could be misreading the situation. Polling suggests Dem voters are blaming the drawbacks of isolationism (strained alliances, growing security threats) on Trump, even as isolationism is becoming an ideological purity test in the Dem primaries.
    US foreign policy has been neoliberal for the last 20-30 years. Considering how progressives absolutely hate neoliberal foreign policy, and how Trump does not seem to understand what he is doing, no. I don't expect a return to normalcy any time soon. I personally cannot picture Warren or Sanders making hard choices that will be unpopular with Democrats. I feel that they will try to leave these issues alone when they can, and resort to economic measures in issues they cannot ignore. Canceling arms sales to saudi arabia for example.


    Interesting. Given that currency value has psychological and political components, do you expect US instability to be a factor as China and Europe position themselves as “sane” alternatives? Or is this temporary alarmism? The latter sentiment is primarily behind my suggestion that if the US continues to work against globalization rather than leading it, it could drive markets to seek alternatives in order to remain competitive.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/07/the-risks-are-rising-that-the-dollar-could-lose-its-special-global-standing.html


    There seems to be a growing consensus among emergent Democratic and Republican leadership that the US should be more protectionist like the EU or China, but I could be misreading the situation.
    Mmm, I doubt it. I mean people talk about US becoming more protectionist and how other countries can and will reply with their own tarrifs and embargoes and whatnot. I can certainly see that with agricultural products and cars, but people forget that USA exports mostly high-end goods that people can't really do without. Consider the Boeing-Airbus duopoly. There is not enough production, and there never will be, to satisfy the global market with Airbus alone. The world will continue to buy Boeing aircraft because their airlines still need to run. The same goes with industrial equipment, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, high-end machining tools, etc... Heck, I can't imagine people banning iPhones from being imported.

    Are you predicting spending cuts, revenue increases, or something else?
    Doesn't matter who wins the next election. I'm expecting heavy deficit spending probably into the mid 2020s to 2030s. Deficits may be reduced with tax raises, but I'm not expecting large surpluses.

    I would agree China lacks the white hat reputation that allowed the US to advance its interests virtually unchecked outside of the communist bloc, and this will likely check any truly global ambitions.
    Economics is often subordinate to politics. You would think that countries like Pakistan and Ethiopia would know better than to borrow from China. Yet here we are, both Pakistan and Ethiopia borrowed billions form China for infrastructure products that would help Chinese trade. I'm expecting China to make very strong progress in global markets and geopolitical reach. I must admit I'm not a China expert but I'm aware of their general strategy by reading second hand sources. CSIS and the like.

    On the other hand, even if the US’ 180 on cooperation with China permanently impacts the latter’s export strategy, China still has more than enough population to allow domestic markets to fill the gap if the Politburo is willing to ease its command and control grip. Couple this with currency manipulation and replacement markets, and it will be interesting to see everything play out. In the meantime, the US and its allies seem incapable and unwilling to check China’s regional ambitions, and there is little reason to expect that to change.
    I think you're pretty spot on here. I can't foresee a lot of change in China-West posture. China will continue to gain and the "West" will be happy to benefit.

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    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    I think one of the fundamental factors here is that end of "Pax Americana" comes from within the US.
    During Cold War American interventionism had been largely justified by the "red scare", when population was led to believe that if government doesn't take a significant part of their income and spend it on things like military-industrial complex and foreign invasion, US would inevitably get overrun by communists.
    However, in 1991, this excuse disappeared together with USSR. But instead of seizing interventionism, US doubled-down on it, seeing a perfect opportunity to go rogue without USSR or another power being ready to contain them yet, using even less coherent excuse of need for a "world policeman" to continue its militarist policies.
    One must understand that maintenance of both US military-industrial complex and its network of "allies" come out of taxpayer's dime, with no direct benefit for the taxpayer. So we can't really blame average America Joe for lack of enthusiasm in handing over his income to to be spent on Israel or to bomb some Middle Eastern country.
    The other factor is that post-Cold War American interventionism has mostly negative effects. 2003 Iraq war and Libya war are perfect examples of how American attempts to supposedly "help" resulted with worsening situation, as both Iraq and Libya were better off under "evil dictators" then under "American liberation".

  15. #15
    Abdülmecid I's Avatar ¡Ay Carmela!
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    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    In my opinion, the content of the OP seems a bit biased against the geopolitical competitors of Washington. Firstly, I disagree about their policy often being qualified as aggressive, with the potential exception of China. However, both the Russian Federation and the Iranian Republic are much weaker than the United States, which have essentially encircled them with the installation of a great number of military bases. Tehran and Moscow are mainly preoccupied with maintaining their fragile sphere of influence in regions like Northern Caucasus, Syria or Eastern Ukraine. Their strategy may involve morally controversial tactics, like, for instance, the annexation of Crimea following a shady referendum, but, again, their primary goal is the preservation of the status-quo, because frankly expansion is out of question simply for practical reasons. It is true that Iran has exploited the sloppiness of its adversaries to meddle in the affairs of Yemen or Iraq, but its role is merely opportunistic and quite secondary, despite the hyperbole of the pundits actively advocating for a hawkish approach.

    Secondly, attributing every Russian initiative to President Putin is inaccurate and can subconsciously lead to the dehumanisation of either Kremlin or the Russian people, in general, thus morally justifying an otherwise unacceptable response to their moves. Thirdly, linking states to certain political systems is quite arbitrary. The strengthened middle-class in China can perfectly lead to democratisation and liberalisation, while the opposite phenomenon in America or Europe can also provoke a return to authoritarianism. The first signs have already appeared, while even NATO, which is now described by propaganda as the bastion of liberalism and democracy, initially included among its founders a couple of oppressive regimes, such as a clerical fascist dictatorship. In any case, foreign policy is not determined by concerns over ethics or human rights, so the political system of the superpower will hardly affect that of the rest of the East, even regarding its closest satellites.

    In what concerns the next major superpower, I personally believe that China is by far the likeliest candidate. I am aware that nowadays doubting Chinese potential is quite trendy, but these analyses of many reputable institutions suffer from methodological mistakes, which are the result of their author's partiality or their intention to please and not to inform their audience. In summary, they misrepresent Chinese gradual stabilisation following decades of impressive rapid growth, while also simultaneously assuming the worst for Beijing and the best for Washington. As China's commercial and financial power increases, even more states will cooperate with them, at the expense of countries like Japan, France and the US. This has already largely occurred in Indochina, with the exception of Vietnam, whose resistance however will not last forever. I cannot predict the time it will take for Chinese preeminence to materialise or the extent of their strength, but, judging from the relevant data, it is safe to conclude that someday in the foreseeable future, Pax Americana will be replaced by its Sinica version for the better or worse.

    American influence will decline, with the War on Terror (in reality, nothing more than a convenient euphemism of Bush referring to the most controversial aspects of his foreign policy) may have accelerated this tendency, but it's neither the original nor the primary factor behind it. Relative isolationism is the natural consequence of decreased prosperity, which means that the budget for foreign adventures has been considerably curtailed and that the voters are less willing to accept such costly endeavours, instead of dealing with income inequality (not to mention the symbolic role of the casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq). Perhaps I wouldn't even exclude the scenario of a possible fragmentation, with the wealthy states of the West Coast, especially California, being the main suspects. Similarly, the European Union could also partially disintegrate, as the conflicting interests between the elites render it exceptionally vulnerable to recessions and diplomatic pressure. Cohesion was reinforced in times of prosperity, but the current indicators point towards pessimism and not optimism, as the example of the United Kingdom reveals. The inclusion of impoverished Romania or Bulgaria did create more opportunities, at least temporarily, but in the long term, such greedy policies undermine the basis of the project, in my opinion.

    Russia's days of superpower have definitely passed, as she cannot compete with the US or China, but the doom-and-gloom scenarios about the inevitable Apocalypse are also rather dramatic. A not particularly diversified economy focused on the fossile industry is never safe, but Russia is one of the few states that can profit immensely from Global Warming. Natural disasters will hit hard the populace, but the rise in temperature will allow the exploitation of the Antarctica, will make Siberia an export of agricultural products and will open new trade routes, which will be more efficient, at least during summer, than crossing the Suez Canal. Therefore, I expect a world, where the protagonist is China, with Kremlin, Paris, Berlin, Washington or even San Francisco playing a secondary role. Of course, the reality will be much more nuanced, but predicting anything less vague seems a bit risky.

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    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica
    Would you consider China’s cyber operations to be overhyped? Excluding for a moment reports of China gaining cutting edge military and espionage tech from the US, there is the broader trend of US firms tolerating the theft of intellectual property by Chinese firms and agents for decades as a cost of business in their bid to access Chinese markets.


    https://www.zdnet.com/article/nsa-cy...th-in-history/


    The question isn’t whether the US has equal or superior capabilities, but whether the fact that the US has barely begun to build a public consensus aimed at confronting these threats is too little, too late. Will it have an impact on the balance of power? I understand your assessment is it will not. But I would argue adversaries like China, Russia, and Iran are already leveraging asymmetrical warfare to gain territory and hegemony in ways the US and its allies cannot readily counteract. Is your point that these gains will ultimately not matter in the grand scheme of things, or that the US response will eventually blunt their edge?
    Yes, it is overhyped; no, China no longer depends on intellectual property theft, as they've long moved on and are already surpassing us in key technological areas; and the US is very much prone to steal from others as well, including from its allies, such as Germany and Canada; and given that the US is the biggest importer of manufactured goods, the roles have very much reversed and it's much more China that is in need of access to US markets than the other way round.

    It is not a fact that the US is confronting those threats too little, too late. The US and some allies are the only ones in the world boasting their "cyber warfare" capabilities, boasting of using them, and threatening to use them. For example against Russia and Iran.

    And again, asymmetrical warfare doesn't gain territory. By its very nature it can only deny it. The US are the leader in the use of asymmetrical warfare as well, as demonstrated around the globes and for decades: Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen and against Iran being three examples.

    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica
    The question isn’t whether the US will disappear from the world stage, but whether its evolving role will shift the global order.
    The global order never stopped evolving and yes it will continue to do so. Again it depends on who the US will continue to press hard down on. Those it neglects will naturally become stronger and more assertive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica
    US low skilled workers feel ripped off by the globalization led by US policy. US voters are leaning isolationist. [...] You mentioned trade. Both Republicans and Democrats are becoming more protectionist, abandoning the traditional free trade evangelism the US depends on to maintain its world order. Is this a tacit admission that the era of dominance is already over? A sign of things to come?
    US low skilled workers aren't alone in feeling ripped off and yes they are being ripped of. Yet that's an important part of the US domination of the global markets. Half the globe depends on the US to export their goods to. It used to be the exact opposite.
    Yet it's also completely untenable in the long run. But as the protectionism increases, the incentives for other countries to be part of a US dominated sphere lessen. US voters are completely irrelevant to the establishment, btw., as has been evidenced by the last decades.

    Like I said: The world is already shifting to a multipolar world and that's not a bad thing per se.
    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica
    US adversaries are already behaving as if the US is a wounded elephant. There are those with ambitions to rival or replace the US’ leadership role.
    No, US adversaries are not behaving as if the US are a wounded elefant. The US is behaving like a red giant, becoming ever more aggressive and necessitating responses by those threatened.

    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica
    If the US doesn’t want to lead, can it escape the world it built around itself?
    It very much wants to lead. It would be very easy for it to "escape the world" if it wanted to. It does not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica
    Is your assessment of realignment along regional powers predicated on violence/war, or a natural re-orientation?
    Both. The current wars/crisises are very much due to the evolution of the world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica
    Do you hope for the world dollar to die for the sake of efficiency and opportunity in a general sense, or for other reasons? Until events progress, right now, the US benefits even from its own instability, because markets rush to store USD as a safe haven in response to economic fears or shocks.
    If I remember correctly, the USD got a boon because of Trumps huge tax breaks for giant corporations, who then decided to send their money back home.

    I hope the world dollar dies both because it's outdated and because it's being abused.
    Quote Originally Posted by Legio_Italica
    I don’t think they will replace the US either in the way Xi Jinping would like to, but I would argue their domestic market is large enough to potentially keep them in the game, if not power them to the finish line. Do you think the US will succeed in blunting Chinese growth and interests around the world, or will China simply be an Icarus in world history; the victim of its own failed ambitions?
    China will not be an Icarus, and the US is already causing the Chinese a lot of trouble. E.g. their attempt to kill HUAWEI from international markets. How well China will do doesn't so much depend on their economy per se but more on how successful the US will be in such efforts. The free trade agreements were trying to do the same thing btw. Retaining the American sphere of influence by de facto excluding the Chinese (and the Russians) from that economy.

    Due to protectionism, the US simply decided to use tougher measures.

    Basically: Kill Chinese access to global markets, maintain de facto control the worlds energy supply, kill off the Nord Stream 2 pipeline so that both Germany and Russia can be controlled through the US proxies in between.
    From Socrates to Jesus to me it has always been the lot of any true visionary to be rejected and oppressed by the reactionary bourgeoisie
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  17. #17
    Vanoi's Avatar Dux Limitis
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    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    Quote Originally Posted by 95thrifleman View Post
    Yes and no.

    First, Iraq did not stand a chance, it was a true turkey shoot. No nation other than Russia or China can take America on in conventional warfare.

    Secondly the failure to go further than Kuwait, even if to support the Basra uprising (which came back to bite the coalition in the arse), was a strategic failure.
    Occupying Iraq in 1991 would have been as bad an idea as it was in 2003.

    The fight wasn't predicted to be fair but the US hasn't had a fair fight against another military power since the War of 1812. The US has always had an advantage or a couple advantages against whoever they were fighting in every war since then.

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    Cookiegod's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    Quote Originally Posted by Vanoi View Post
    Occupying Iraq in 1991 would have been as bad an idea as it was in 2003.

    The fight wasn't predicted to be fair but the US hasn't had a fair fight against another military power since the War of 1812. The US has always had an advantage or a couple advantages against whoever they were fighting in every war since then.
    Not necessarily. The sanctions from the 90s til the invasion did arguably just as much to create ISIS as the invasion itself. Middle class was destroyed.

    A clean victory would have been achievable by removing Saddam from power, but letting the Baath party keep it, thereby using existing structures to maintain the client state.
    From Socrates to Jesus to me it has always been the lot of any true visionary to be rejected and oppressed by the reactionary bourgeoisie
    Qualis noncives pereo! #justiceforcookie #egalitéfraternitécookié #CLM
    Cope's a shill

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    Vanoi's Avatar Dux Limitis
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    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    Not necessarily. The sanctions from the 90s til the invasion did arguably just as much to create ISIS as the invasion itself. Middle class was destroyed.
    ISIS did start out in the late 90s but it was the 2003 invasion that really gave ISIS the popular support and manpower it needed. Before then they were relatively minor. I'm willing to bet Saddam could have probably dealt with them if the US had not invaded.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
    A clean victory would have been achievable by removing Saddam from power, but letting the Baath party keep it, thereby using existing structures to maintain the client state.
    The reminds me of the Iran coup. Puppets like that don't last long and could lead to worse results.

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    pchalk's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: On US Isolationism, Expectations for the Post-US World Order

    1. A truly multipolar reorientation of geopolitics with few or no globally dominant “great powers.”
    2. A division of the world into “spheres of influence” dominated by authoritarian powers (China, Russia, Iran, for example)
    3. The US will remain globally dominant thanks to King Dollar and its sheer size, even if politically or militarily weaker relative to its turn of the century peak.
    4. The EU will pull itself together, emerge from the USÂ’ shadow, neutralize Russian interests on its doorstep, and Europe will once again carry the torch of the liberal/western world order.
    5. Other (please explain)
    I have chosen the third point as I cannot see any of the mentioned major changes as realistic enough. Global Influence is a shared commodity.
    When one country gains influence, the one or ones who have influence inherently lose some degree of that influence.
    I do not see any real evidence that the US has in fact become "weaker" as compared to its high point at the end of the cold war. What has happened is that global influence has shifted: Russia has recovered to a degree, China has gained influence, East and West Germany has reunited,
    for example
    . This means that the US has had to share its influence with competition and partners.

    To address the other points:

    Point 1: I see as not realistic. For this to happen it would involve an unlikely catastrophic event of a SyFy disaster B-Movie to disrupt the political power balance so severely that there would not exist anything beyond middle or small powers. The only real changes I can realistically foresee are that other countries join the list of great powers (Turkey, Argentina, Spain, or Australia for example) further shifting power gradually.

    Point 2: I see as the second most realistic but do not see the need for it to become only authoritarian powers that dominate. It is not only the US, nor EU countries for that matter, that are the good guys standing in for democracy.

    Point 4:
    If the EU keeps its current course it will fall apart. But as you said "if they pull it together". There is a lot that each member has to do individually to really pull it together. I see it more likely that Europe's great powers and potential emerging great powers will be able to assert influence via their economic success and militarily only with US help, that means NATO.

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