US President Barack Obama has been in office for more than five years, but his diplomatic practice has so far ended with misery.
The Iraq War that lasted for seven years and five months brought about radical anti-government forces that have relations with Al Qaeda and have seized northern provinces. It also brought about a more pro-Iran government.
The 13-year-long Afghan War led to a US that has to engage in negotiations with the Taliban and an Afghanistan hostile to the US.
Bashar al-Assad, whom the US has been trying to defame in every possible way, was reelected as Syrian president. The Arab Spring brought about an anti-US wave across the Middle East.
While isolating Russia due to the Ukrainian crisis, the US also finds Russia and Europe are getting closer.
While unscrupulously supporting Japan led by right-wing forces, its “pivot to Asia” strategy has become a tool to vitalize Japan’s militarism. The US’ “mess-making” image is hard to change.
Such an eye-watering diplomatic sheet reflects the decline of US power and the rigidness of its strategic mentality. The two time-consuming and costly wars and the financial crisis that swept the whole world have corroded the strength of the US, which corresponds to the conclusion of Paul Kennedy in his book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers that military overstretching leads to the decline of empires.
Meanwhile, the increasingly severe partisan struggles in US domestic politics serve as a negative democratic model.
The US’ torture of prisoners overseas and the PRISM-gate scandal have weakened Washington’s soft power. It is time for the US to reflect upon its failed global diplomacy and reform its political and economic systems.
Against the backdrop that the security of all countries are interrelated, the US still insists on alliances. In the past two decades, NATO has expanded three times and strengthened the military alliance as the US advocated the “Russia threat,” which has led to the split of European security.
When Asian countries progressed into regional integration, the US advocated the “China threat” to strengthen the Asian alliance system, with the US-Japan alliance at the core, which will surely lead to the split of Asian security.
The old mentality of “alliance” has not only worsened the international environment in which the US’ own domestic economic plight is to be solved, but also brought about criticism of other countries.
The US has been obstinate in pursuing its dream of hegemony. It not only excludes others in the traditional security field, but also tries to define the boundaries in new security areas, such as information warfare and cyber space.
Experts from US think tanks who remain cool-headed have reminded those in power that the driving force of the US diplomacy is a revitalized economy. The urgent task is to solve domestic problems, rather than fan up the flames of troubles around the world.
When Obama first took office in 2009, the US public expected him to take their country out of the economic downturn like former president Franklin Roosevelt did before. Five years have passed, the economy hasn’t got rid of sluggishness, political extremism remains, and the gap between different social classes has widened.
The tragedy of the US diplomacy is that decision-makers habitually refuse reflection.
Last month, when Obama delivered a speech at the US Military Academy at West Point, he articulated his vision of the US’ leading role in the world for the century to come.
But if the declining US that brought about numerous tragedies to the world still wants to dominate the world, the world will come to the edge of a cliff. It seems just too difficult for the US to learn to be a normal country.
By Li Haidong Source:Global Times Published
The author is a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University. firstname.lastname@example.org
ISIS massacre in Iraq shames Washington
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants boasted on Twitter Saturday that they had executed more than 1,700 Iraqi government soldiers and posted grisly on-the-spot photos. The claim of the Sunni Islamist militants shocked media outlets the world over as this latest Iraq massacre might be the largest since 2003.
ISIS already appalled the whole international community by suddenly taking over Mosul days ago, the second-largest city of Iraq. Their mass murder of thousands of war prisoners this time reveals their atrocity as well as the unpredictable abyss of the Iraq crisis. The US has sent the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush and two guided missile ships into the Persian Gulf and is hesitating about whether to launch air strikes against ISIS in northern Iraq. It seems the Iraq tragedy is caused by a continuously regenerative power that can never be eliminated by external forces.
Washington waged the Iraq War in 2003 without UN authorization and regardless of objections from major countries including China, Russia, Germany and France. US public opinion has recently been reflecting that the Bush administration might have started a wrong war, although authorized by Congress and a majority of the US public back when the US elite was confident about remolding the Middle East. The democratic system failed to broaden the limited vision of US society on the Middle East.
Thousands of US soldiers were killed at the battlefields of Iraq and tens of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives, for which then president George W. Bush and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld would not assume any responsibility. This is indeed an error by Uncle Sam. Nevertheless it will be of positive significance to a certain degree if the Western world led by Washington can draw from the brutal war profound lessons that are expected to help change the US’ way of “leading the world.”
The biggest lesson is that the US is not omnipotent in reforming smaller countries it detests. The West needs to hold in awe the torn and tattered societies of Iraq and Afghanistan, which will release incredible power once their internal structures are disrupted and devour all efforts at peaceful reconstruction. There is no denying that Washington has injected power into globalization by bringing the clout of Western values to every corner of the world. However, many people may have overestimated the political meaning of US cultural communication and mistaken it for a prelude to world domination for the Western political model.
Now the White House is keen on its “pivot to Asia” strategy. History will not simply repeat itself. If the US attempts to scourge East Asia, it will probably adopt different means from those in the Middle East. East Asians should give full play to their wisdom to avoid falling into the trap of Washington.