How Dependable is American Power?

by Jan 9, 2024Diaspora0 comments

The US possible (perhaps, inevitable) withdrawal from the troubled zones — where her protégé(s) like Ukraine or Taiwan were left out to fend for themselves — would be a repetition of Afghanistan


In the January / February (2024) issue of Foreign Affairs, Fareed Zakaria, an India-born American journalist and scholar of International Relations wrote an article, “The Self-Doubting Superpower: America Shouldn’t Give Up on the World It Made.”

Here’s my commentary on Fareed’s article that emphasizes the point that contrary to the popular perception, America isn’t a declining power and could very well steer the course of world events in the direction it wanted. It should, therefore, assert its power and authority:

On China, Fareed sounded if the US were nice to China, hugged her leaders, treated them as co-equals with generosity, they would be equally nice in return and cooperate with the US in the evolution of a better international order. Despite being behind the US in so many matrices of economic development (agro-industrial sector vs service sector etc.), Fareed must be knowing, China sees herself as a fierce competitor with the US, trying to get to number one. The US opened her heart and offered the Chinese all assistance, turning China into a “workshop cum warehouse” of the world, expecting China would eventually join the community of nations willing to play by the rules. They would democratize with an open society and become a proto-type of America.

Everyone knows what China did – From cheating on patent rights, tech secrets by reverse engineering etc., to bluffing on her military build-up in the South-China Sea to the blackmailing of the US during the pandemic (Covid) years, China presented evidence after evidence that she wouldn’t be such a cooperating partner. China reneged on her assurance to the world that Hongkong would remain autonomous. Deng Xiaoping’s promise of one country, two systems withered away. The looming question still remains: What the US would possibly do if the Chinese leaders decided to annex Taiwan by force. Beijing is already bullying tiny countries from Bhutan, Nepal to Vietnam and Philippines — leave aside formidable countries like Australia, Japan or India.

The same question applies to the Russian-Ukrainian situation. If President Biden’s hands are tied by the Republican House in terms of renewing military aid to Ukraine, would Fareed recommend disintegration of Ukraine’s sovereignty that would mean Putin’s eventual victory? And if that happens, what would the US do with all the cooperation of the NATO nations? So far, they have done very little other than burdening Ukraine with unbearable loans, selling to her their hardware or defense equipment or provoking Russia. The US and NATO brought their nuclear installations closer to the Russian sphere of influence – judged to be the last straw on Putin’s back that triggered the Ukrainian war on 24 Feb 2022.

The US possible (perhaps, inevitable) withdrawal from the troubled zones — where her protégé(s) like Ukraine or Taiwan were left out to fend for themselves — would be a repetition of Afghanistan. This is so fresh in the memory of everyone: Recall the events prior to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2021. The interlocutors of the Taliban Islamists were negotiating with the representatives of the Trump and Biden Administrations in Doha, Qatar, assuring them that their imminent government would accommodate all segments of the Afghan society, wouldn’t kill or banish the Afghan defense personnel etc. But they had started indiscriminately killing all Afghans deemed to be against the Taliban during the time the so-called peace negotiation was going on. The US didn’t do anything and sneaked out of the country. The American credentials as a dependable ally received a jolt and the world noticed it.

I didn’t mention Donald Trump’s betrayal of the Kurdish forces in 2019 when Erdogan’s Turkish forces had attacked them. The Kurdish forces had fought and helped the US defeat the Islamic State in Syria. Fareed did mention that.

Finally, Fareed draws a false equivalency between the US approach to the question of upsetting the borders in Ukraine and the West Bank (Israel). The scale of Russian invasion of a sovereign Ukraine renders the encroachments of the Jewish settlers in the West Bank insignificant. Although illegitimate and unethical, the settlers advanced the argument that they were fortifying their borders against any future military incursions from the West Bank Palestinians. An off and on friendly PLA or Al-Fatah could any day be overthrown by a hard-core Islamist terrorist organization like Hamas. The Right-wing Israeli West Bank settlers could be persuaded to freeze their extension activities if only they hadn’t been put in a perpetual mentality of war for survival. Since the formation of the state of Israel, the immigrant Jews, from a position of strength, would justify doing everything to fend off their existential threat from the Palestinian Islamists.

According to the latest political trends in America, the unequivocal US support to Israel now appears to be wavering. The Arab-Muslim lobby within the Biden camp would force him to change his administration’s stance toward Israel. Two staffers from the White House have resigned over the Israel-Gaza conflict; withdrawal of Arab-Muslim support to Biden in the state of Michigan might cost him the presidency.

[Originally from Darbhanga, Bihar (India), Dr Binoy Shanker Prasad lives in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). He is a former UGC teacher fellow at JNU in India and a Fulbright Scholar in the USA. Author of scholarly works including a book, “Violence Against Minorities”, “Gandhi in the Age of Globalization” (a monograph) and a collection of poems”, Dr Prasad has taught at Ryerson University, Centennial College and McMaster University. He has also been the president of Hamilton based India-Canada Society (2006-08 and 2018-20)]

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x