17 Ιουλίου 2014

Ι) Beginning Of The End? ΙΙ) Indian Foreign Policy: The Cold War Lingers. ΙΙΙ) Modi’s BRICS moment. Ένα Ενδιαφέρον Σχόλιο ως γέφυρα - What Germany has and India lacks. ΙV) The Costs of American Interventionism. V) Barack Obama's Legacy Problem: A Nation in Retreat? Επιλογικές Αναφορές.

Beginning Of The End?

The unipolar moment in international relations is over. The new world order will be neither bipolar, the United States and China, nor multipolar, but a multiplex.

A multiplex world is like a multiplex cinema. American political scientist Joseph Nye describes the current international system as a three-dimensional chessboard. The top layer is military power which is still unipolar. The middle is a multipolar economic layer with the likes of the European Union, China and the other BRICS— Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa. The bottom layer consists of transnational non-state actors operating largely outside of government control.
In the real world, the military and economic elements of power are not separable. And chess is a game of conflict. As Nye himself would readily admit, today’s world has plenty of cooperation.
The multiplex cinema is more apt— several movies running in different theatres within a single complex. Hollywood style includes thrillers and Westerns with violence, crime, ruggedness and heroism as prominent themes. Bollywood fare offers passion, tragedy, song and dance. Kung fu films produced in Hong Kong and Taiwan play next to patriotic and propaganda films from communist China. No single director or producer would monopolize the audience’s attention or loyalty for long. The audience has a choice of shows.
A multiplex world comprises multiple key actors whose relationship is defined by complex forms of interdependence. Empires created by great powers in the past existed contemporaneously around the world: the Romans (27 BC to 393 AD), the Han (206 BC to 220 AD) and Maurya (322 to 185 BC); the Byzantine (330 AD to 1453 AD), the Gupta (320 to 550 AD) and the Tang (618 to 907 AD). They did interact, but not as closely or continuously as do today’s great and rising powers— whether the BRICS or members of the G20.
But a multiplex world is not a multipolar world, especially of the pre–World War II European kind. For one thing, today’s key players in international politics are not just great or rising powers. They include international institutions, non-state actors, regional powers and organizations, and multinational corporations. European interdependence before World War II, based narrowly on trade, was undermined by dynastic squabbles, balance of power politics and a bloodthirsty rivalry for overseas colonies. The major nations of the world today are bound by much broader and complex forms of interdependence comprising trade, finance and production networks as well as shared vulnerability to transnational challenges such as terrorism and climate change.
A multiplex world is not defined by the hegemony of any single nation. In fact, the advent of a multiplex world comes from the waning of the “American-led liberal hegemonic order,” as suggested by John Ikenberry in his 2010 The Liberal Leviathan. This does not necessarily mean the United States is in decline— the jury is still out on that issue. But the United States is no longer in a position to create the rules and dominate the institutions of global governance in the manner it had done for much of the post–World War II period. And while elements of the old liberal order survive, they would have to accommodate new actors and approaches that do not play to America’s commands and preferences.
While America may remain as a “first among equals,” “the era of American ascendancy in international politics that began in 1945— is fast winding down,” concludes a 2012 report by the US National Intelligence Council. The era is already past its use-by date.
This does not mean US leadership is unimportant. As the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has put it, “None of these global challenges [e.g. climate change] can be addressed by the world community without having America on-board. And conversely, none of these issues can be resolved by the United States alone.”
Defenders of the passing order argue that the emerging powers can be co-opted because they have benefitted so much from that order. But this is naïve, as has become clear during recent months, especially in Russian actions in Ukraine and in the abstention of the rest of the BRICS in the UN General Assembly vote calling for the non-recognition of the Russian annexation of Crimea. The rising powers want space for their own principles and approaches to sovereignty, security and development. This could lead to a significant redefinition of the existing order, moving it beyond the point where it could no longer sustain unquestioned US primacy.
A multiplex world will not be free from disorder. But it is not what Ian Bremmer calls a “G-Zero World,” simply because of the loss of a predominant US leadership role. Stability of a multiplex world would be attained through shared leadership among the rising and established powers as well as regional and civil society groups. This G-Plus World requires a genuinely reformed system of global governance and greater recognition by the West of the voices and aspirations of the Rest. America and its western allies must give up exclusive privileges like French leadership of the International Monetary Fund and an American leading the World Bank in return for their trust and cooperation in order to make the system work.
At the same time, the rising powers cannot rule the world on their own. Notwithstanding the “hype of the Rest,” the rising powers are not a united bunch. While seeking greater equality and justice, they also act as norm breakers, as Russia’s action in Ukraine and China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea show. Moreover, some of them, especially China, suffer from poor relations with their immediate neighbours. This lack of regional legitimacy constrains their role in global leadership. Moreover, the rising powers cannot expect recognition without contribution. They need to make a greater contribution in key areas such as development assistance and conflict resolution, and show greater restraint and empathy toward regional neighbours.
A multiplex world would have multiple layers of authority and leadership. Especially important are the role of regions, regional powers and regional institutions. This does not mean a return to 19th-century type of European regional blocs, as the defenders of US hegemony fear. Much of regionalism today is “open” regionalism, as in Asia, and inter-regionalism as with the EU’s global reach. It is less territorially based and encompasses an ever widening range of actors and issues. As Hillary Clinton put it while US secretary of state, “Few, if any, of today’s challenges can be understood or solved without working through a regional context.” To make a multiplex world more stable, regional organizations should be given more resources and authority while remaining within the framework of UN-led universalism.
The American liberal hegemony story as presented is like being in the old neighbourhood cinema hall and watching one movie at a time. After the British run, the movie America has been showing for a while. The multiplex world with its shows and interdependent setting has no precedent in history. Instead of wishing for a rerun of America, western analysts and policymakers should ponder its implications of our multiplex future and get ready “to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

Amitav Acharya
Amitav Acharya is professor of international relations at American University in Washington, DC. This article is derived from his new book “The End of American World Order” (Polity 2014).
Outlook India

Indian Foreign Policy: The Cold War Lingers

India’s support for Russia during the Crimea crisis should be a wake-up call for Washington.
In the wake of Vladimir Putin’s incursion into Crimea, almost every member of the international community voiced concern over Russia’s actions. While the U.S. and European Union were the most forceful in their criticism, non-Western states such as China and even Iran also made clear their support for the principles of non-intervention, state sovereignty and territorial integrity – oblique criticisms of Moscow’s disregard for cornerstone Westphalian norms. For the most part, support for Russia has been confined to the predictable incendiaries: Cuba, Venezuela and Syria, for example. Yet there is one unusual suspect among those lining up behind Putin that requires further investigation: India.
On its face, New Delhi’s enunciation of respect for Russia’s “legitimate interests” in Crimea is a surprising blow to the prevailing U.S. policy of reaching out to India. As the largest democracy in the world, a burgeoning capitalist economy and an increasingly important military power, India has been viewed as a counterweight to China’s rise and an anchor of the U.S.-led international order. India’s support for Russia’s revisionism in Crimea, then, is something that should trouble U.S. policymakers. In the long run, India’s response to the Crimean crisis might even be remembered as one of the more important implications of the whole episode. For how India aligns in the coming multipolar world will have enormous ramifications.
India’s support for Putin is a reminder that the West should not take India’s friendship for granted. To be sure, India made a necessary shift in tone towards the West following the collapse of the Soviet Union. India has liberalized its economy and become a strategic partner in several key areas. But the past two decades of broad cooperation should not be taken as an inexorable trend towards a complete harmonization of interests between India and the West. Amid all the talk of a renewed Cold War in Europe it has been forgotten that, for India, Cold War international relations never truly ended. In particular, the Indo-Russian relationship remains an important mainstay of Indian grand strategy – a hangover from that bygone era.
The years following the collapse of the Soviet empire saw the U.S. mainly concerned with a failed attempt to curb India’s nuclear program. After 9/11, America’s attention was focused on partnership with India while still maintaining the confidence and cooperation of Pakistan. Both periods of engagement, however, left the Indo-U.S. relationship well short of the kind of deep cooperation that marked Indo-Soviet relations during the Cold War. The result has been that Moscow still enjoys a thoroughly positive relationship with New Delhi.
India and Russia maintain deep cooperation on political, military and economic dimensions. Russian trade with India rivals the latter’s trade with the United States, and Indian companies have made huge investments in Russian energy firms and energy projects in the Bay of Bengal. In addition, the two nations are developing a southern route from Russia to the Arabian Sea that will increase Russian trade in the whole of the Indian Ocean region.
Russia still provides India’s military with more than 70 percent of its weapons systems and armaments and the two are currently cooperating in the development of cruise missile systems, strike fighters and transport aircraft. Russia is one of only two countries in the world that have annual ministerial-level defense reviews with India. The two cooperate on the advancement of a space program and they have bilateral nuclear agreement worth potentially tens of billions of dollars. Such deep and expansive ties with Russia complicate India’s multifarious importance from the perspective of Washington (as a cog in the U.S. “pivot” to Asia, an indispensable ally in the War on Terror and a bustling hub of the global economy).
After the Bush administration left office, India was heralded as one of the foreign policy success stories of his presidency. Economic relations had been deepened, diplomatic ties strengthened, a nuclear agreement signed. All indications were that India would be a stalwart American ally at a strategic nexus between the Middle East and the new focus on Asia. Historically poor relations with China would keep India safely out of the Chinese orbit. India could be relied upon to help encircle China, a vital link in a twenty-first century cordon sanitaire around the muscular Middle Kingdom.
But India never lost sight of its historic Cold War ally and the Indian people have never fully lost their suspicion of Western powers and creeping colonialism. American policymakers may have been overly naïve in thinking that economic growth, increased trade and a nuclear deal could move India safely into the American camp. Perhaps it is true that India will never cement itself on China’s side, but the fact is that nothing has been done to erase the deep Indo-Russian ties that formed during decades of Cold War.
Putin’s stratagem in Crimea has reminded the world that China is not the only rising or resurgent Great Power deserving of attention. As such, officials need to reconsider India’s place in American grand strategy. There is no doubt that India (itself a rising state with the potential to become a geopolitical pole in its own right) will remain a prominent player in the decades ahead. India occupies a crucial geostrategic location between a rising China, the energy producing regions of the Middle East and a newly vigorous African economy. An expanding Indian navy featuring 150 ships and multiple aircraft carriers will possess the capability to exercise veto power over key shipping choke points in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Malacca, and Suez region. Economic forecasts suggest India will surpass the GDP of the United States somewhere in the middle of the century.
It should greatly concern the American foreign policy establishment that, at a moment when international norms are under assault by Moscow, India has chosen to (at least partially) throw its lot in with Russia. How strong can a norm of territorial integrity be without the world’s largest nation and the world’s largest democracy? How stable can the American-led global order be with such a prominent repudiation of American foreign policy preferences? The answer to both of these questions is, unfortunately, “not very.”
What should be done? The past decade has seen a consistent focus by Washington to integrate and contain a rising China, but not enough has been done to integrate and build ties with a rising India. Simply because India is a democracy does not mean that it will automatically align itself to American preferences, and the United States must make a concerted effort to win India’s favor and goodwill in a lasting way. Until now, closeness with India has been compromised by competing demands to remain faithful to Pakistan, America’s own Cold War-era ally. Indeed, Russia’s historic support for Indian claims over Kashmir (sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit) has been no small part of Moscow’s appeal to New Delhi. Sooner or later, a new balance must be struck between U.S. commitments to these two nations. While Pakistan is integral to regional security, India’s cooperation will be essential to sustain the American vision of global governance.
The Obama administration can lay the groundwork for a more intimate relationship with India by doing three things. First, and easiest, the United States must clear up the detention and mistreatment of Devyani Khobragade. Far greater crimes have been excused for much less than would be gained in terms of Indian public opinion if the U.S. were to show flexibility towards Khobragade. Whether charges truly are warranted or not, Washington must at least apologize for her treatment in order to mitigate the blow that has been dealt to Indian impressions of the United States.
Second, the U.S. needs to commit itself to the establishment of a free trade agreement with India. India presents an enormous opportunity for American investment, with its stable system of property rights, consolidated democracy, and English-speaking population. An agreement will benefit both the Indian and American peoples, and intertwine the two nations to the high degree that their statures in the global economy mandate.
Third, the United States should seriously reconsider its support for a permanent Indian seat on the United Nations Security Council. If time is running out on the post-WWII international order, it makes sense for the U.S. to exploit its waning preponderant influence and play a major role in fashioning the future of the multipolar order. By seizing the agenda and winning the friendship and trust of rising countries (especially India and Brazil) that generally abide by an American-friendly set of global rules, the United States can promote the existence of a favorable global environment of peace and prosperity for generations to come.
Washington has been warned: India’s expression of sympathy for Russian interests in Crimea should serve as an alarm bell for American officials that a crucial player in world affairs has gone neglected. India’s enlistment as a card-carrying supporter of the existing international order simply cannot be counted upon going forward. If the U.S. wants India to serve as a bulwark of the international status quo, some form of policy change will be required. By shifting India to the front and center of American foreign policy, the United States can help to assure for itself – and the wider world – a future based on prevailing global norms rather than the designs of revisionist, illiberal and undemocratic states like Russia.

Andrew J. Stravers and Peter Harris
Andrew J. Stravers is a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studies the global role of the American military. Peter Harris is a doctoral candidate in Government at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also a graduate fellow of the Clements Center for History, Strategy and Statecraft.
The Diplomat

Modi’s BRICS moment

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s election manifesto made it a point to mention BRICS as a foreign policy priority. Thus, there is really no scope to debunk the upcoming summit of the grouping in Brazil tomorrow as an “inherited baggage” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as some detractors in India have prematurely judged in their haste to caricature the event.
Modi’s statement, while leaving for Brazil, underscores that India attaches “high importance” to the BRICS. The striking thing about the statement is that Modi has not shied away from acknowledging that the BRICS summit in Brazil is expected to be a highly political event, since it is taking place “at a time of political turmoil, conflict and humanitarian crisis in several parts of the world.”
Modi visualizes the BRICS summit as an opportunity to discuss with his counterparts “how we can contribute to international efforts to address regional crises, address security threats and restore a climate of peace and stability in the world”. Suffice to say, he has buried ten feet below the ground the hysterical plea by the anti-BRICS lobbyists in India that the grouping should exclusively restrict itself to economics and keep world politics at arm’s length.
Frankly, the American lobbyists in our midst increasingly look like yesterday’s men. They fail to realize that the BRICS has already taken off with the two historic decisions that are being formalized this week — the creation of the BRICS Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Fund. All indications are that Russian President Vladimir Putin will unveil a third major initiative in the nature of creating an energy association and an energy policy institution under the BRICS roof.
The American lobbyists in Delhi who have debunked BRICS all along and wished that the grouping could be somehow strangled in its cradle are absolutely justified in their fear that the cumulative impact of the latest developments will be that BRICS is taking on the phenomenon of ‘overdollaring’, which ultimately means incrementally opting out of dollar-dominated transactions or not accepting US accounts — that is to say, challenging the dominance of the US dollar globally.
Indeed, China is already a prime mover on this and the expectation is that by next year roughly 30 percent of China’s cross-border trade will be settled in the renminbi. China’s latest move to create a so-called Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank — to which, again, India has been invited to join — is also to be seen as creating an open and inclusive platform. China does not like to do a lot of talking and prefers to move forward steadily towards its objectives, Make no mistake, there is close coordination between Russia and China in getting the BRICS to start up its own version of the existing global financial institutions that are dominated by the West.
Of course, “rising China has its own agenda”. But then, who doesn’t have an agenda — India? Raising the China bogey to make the Indian leadership nervous about BRICS is also not going to work, as vividly brought out by the decision taken with Delhi’s consent to headquarter the new Development Bank in Shanghai.
Yes, China is putting more money into the bank than the rest of the BRICS added together and Beijing will have a weighty say in the way in which the bank conducts its business. But then, so what? As long as India can draw funds for its infrastructural projects, our purpose is served.
The choice is not between a bank where China might be influential and “those built by the West.” The choice is about the way the money is disbursed by the banks without conditionalities that impinge on our sovereignty. The choice is about deciding ourselves what developmental projects are our priority needs. The choice is about tapping new sources for investment in our infrastructural projects.
If China advances its interests by exploiting multilateral processes — BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, ASEAN bodies, et al — let us, in fact, try to emulate the Chinese. We have not been doing well enough in comparison with China, so, why can’t India too? It is never too late to learn a smart thing or two from our great competitor — how it excels in economic diplomacy.
What prevents India from doing what Russia and China are doing in front of our eyes — turning the BRICS as an instrument to advance their ‘enlightened national interests’? In fact, Modi also could have combined a Latin American tour with the BRICS summit in Brazil. That faraway continent feels great empathy toward India.
In any case, what is the prescription for India by our anti-BRICS lobby? Isolationism? Clearly, that’s a road to nowhere in a globalized world. G7? You must be joking. That is the harsh reality.
And we must be morons to fail to comprehend where India’s medium and long term interests lie as an emerging aspirational developing country in the global financial chess game. It is about time to realize that BRICS membership is a privilege — so many countries are queuing up for it — and it is entirely up to us to encash that privilege.
To be sure, what the BRICS countries are doing is to combine their resources to invest in their own developmental needs, and thereby initiating a challenge to the existing global monetary arrangements and signaling their frustrations with the lack of progress on reforming the governance of international financial institutions. That is exactly the reason why India belongs to the BRICS.

M K Bhadrakumar
M.K.Bhadrakumar served in the Indian Foreign Service for three decades and served as ambassador to Uzbekistan and Turkey. Apart from two postings in the former Soviet Union, his assignments abroad included South Korea, Sri Lanka, West Germany, Kuwait, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He has written extensively on Russia, China, Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan and on the geopolitics of energy security.

Ένα Ενδιαφέρον Σχόλιο ως γέφυρα

What Germany has - and India lacks
There is a world of difference between Germany and India. India’s economy is 4.8 trillion US $ while that of Germany is only 3.25 trillion. India’s army is larger than Germany and India is a nuclear armed nation while Germany is not. However, India like Pakistan and Bangladesh had been colonised by the British. Hence, they have lower self esteem vis a vis the ex colonial masters (white anglo-saxon). Similar is the situation between the Arabs and the Turks. The Germans have been defeated in World War 2 but they have not been colonised. In our vicinity the Afghans are the only one who have not been colonised. Hence, they have the guts to standup to the white anglo-saxon invaders. India will need some time to shed off its colonial complex. It is just the influence of history nothing more.

The Costs of American Interventionism

The lessons Washington must learn from the consequences of America's globalist post-9/11 policy.
In a New York Times op-ed published on February 2, 1981, Henry S. Bienen, then an Africa specialist at Princeton University, discussed how “globalists” and “regionalists” advocated differing foreign-policy approaches for the United States. “Globalists,” Bienen noted, “believe that weakening military positions will lead ineluctably to weakening economic ones and that, in any case, security interests, defined first in military terms, must be paramount in any discussion of United States policy.”
Bienen declared that he preferred the regionalist approach, however, since this perspective starts with the assumption that unless one knows what is possible in specific contexts, and unless one has a good understanding of local factors that are operating, policies are likely to fail or to be counterproductive. No accurate analysis of the trade-offs between costs and benefits of different policies can be made without a deep understanding of the specific configurations of power in given countries.
The Cold War is long over, but what Bienen wrote about American foreign policy back in 1981 is also true with regard to American foreign policy in the post–9/11 war on terror. Globalists have been primarily concerned about the “global threat” posed by al-Qaeda and its allies (both actual and perceived) and with defeating this threat militarily. Regionalists, by contrast, have been fearful that America’s deepening military involvements in Afghanistan and Iraq were so unpopular locally that they were creating more enemies than they were eliminating. But just as with the Cold War, it was the globalists and not the regionalists who were in control of formulating American foreign policy in the war on terror—especially during the George W. Bush administration.

The Report Card
After pursuing it for over a decade, what have been the results of America’s war on terror? On the positive side: the regimes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban were toppled, elected governments have taken office in both countries, and, more recently, Osama bin Laden and several other top al-Qaeda leaders have been eliminated.
But there have been negative results as well. America and its allies have paid a high cost in terms of lives lost and resources expended in these two conflicts. The people of Afghanistan and Iraq, of course, have borne far higher human and material costs. Further, the elected governments in both countries have proven to be not only corrupt and authoritarian but also quite ungrateful toward and uncooperative with the United States.
While the U.S. intervention in Iraq ended the Arab Sunni minority’s domination of that country and allowed the Arab Shia majority to come to power via elections, harmony has not been established among Iraq’s three principle communities (Arab Shia, Arab Sunnis and Kurds). With the final departure of American armed forces from Iraq at the end of 2011, intercommunal conflict appears to be increasing.
Even though large numbers of American and coalition forces are still present there, the Taliban and its allies—with help from Pakistan—have made an unwelcome comeback in much of Afghanistan. It does not seem likely that the impending withdrawal of American and coalition forces by the end of 2014 is going to weaken the Taliban. Withdrawal will only provide the Taliban with greater opportunity to regain power.
Further, with America and its allies so heavily involved in Afghanistan and Iraq, al-Qaeda’s affiliates were able to gain influence elsewhere—including in Yemen and Somalia. Finally, even though it has been gravely weakened by the death of bin Laden and many of its other top leaders, al-Qaeda Central remains venomously alive under the leadership of bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The False Choice
Did America have to pursue a globalist policy after 9/11 involving intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq? Could it have pursued a more nuanced, regionalist approach that avoided intervening in these countries and focused on dealing with al-Qaeda instead? Or could it have at least avoided intervening in Iraq and thus concentrated its efforts and resources on Afghanistan and al-Qaeda? While interesting, these questions are moot. The Bush administration adopted globalist policies at the outset of the war on terror, and it is the legacy of these decisions that President Obama—and probably subsequent presidents—must deal with.
President Obama, of course, has already withdrawn American forces from Iraq and has vowed to withdraw them from Afghanistan by 2014. Clearly, he does not share President Bush’s globalist vision regarding the war on terror. But however much President Obama’s decision to withdraw American forces from these two countries is prudent fiscally and popular both domestically and internationally, Obama’s rejection of Bush’s globalist approach to the war on terror does not indicate the adoption of a regionalist approach.
American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq was unable to establish peace and prosperity in these two countries. American withdrawal from them will not do so either. Conflicts in these countries will continue, and forces hostile to the United States, its regional allies and the people of these countries can be expected to try to get the upper hand. America needs to adopt policies somewhere between the extremes of reintervening and doing nothing. In order to do this successfully, Washington would do well to heed Professor Bienen’s advice from over three decades ago: know what is possible in specific contexts, and understand local factors. We’ve already seen what happens when this advice is ignored.

Mark N. Katz
Mark N. Katz teaches international relations at George Mason University and is the author of Leaving without Losing: The War on Terror after Iraq and Afghanistan.

Barack Obama's Legacy Problem: A Nation in Retreat?

Obama is simply less personally engaged in foreign policy matters than any of his predecessors reaching as far back as Herbert Hoover.
As he enters the Back Nine of his second term in office, President Barack Obama is clearly looking to establish his historical legacy. No doubt, his highest priority is the preservation of the Affordable Care Act, which his Administration views as no less important than Medicare and Social Security. Whether Obamacare will survive in its present form, or even survive at all, of course, remains an open question that will be determined both by the future composition of Congress and by the policy preferences of the next White House occupant.
In addition, it is clear that he wishes to be remembered as the president who defeated Al Qaeda by authorizing the successful operation to kill Osama Bin Laden. This legacy, too, is uncertain. It is not merely the host of unanswered questions about the Benghazi fiasco. More to the point is the fact that Islamic extremists, who are at the center of both the Syrian and renewed Iraqi civil wars, are increasingly assertive and violent in Africa and are far from dormant in Southeast Asia as well.
Finally, and most critically, the president is determined to be remembered as the man who ended two wars while avoiding a new one. And in this case, even more than in the others, it will be impossible to evaluate that legacy, much less confirm it, for years to come. The war in Iraq has indeed come to an end, but only for Americans. It continues to rage between Sh'ia and Sunni elements. Iran continues to maintain its influence in Baghdad. Indeed, many informed Iraqis consider that Tehran's influence in Iraq outweighs that of the United States. Moreover, Iran has been the leading supporter of Bashar al-Assad's bloody campaign to quash the Syrian opposition. Its deleterious impact on regional stability could well be sustained for years to come.
The withdrawal from Afghanistan may lead to similar unfortunate results. The fact that former foreign minister and leading presidential contender Abdullah Abdullah is now receiving support from Hamid Karzai's chosen candidate, Zalmai Rassoul, calls into question whether the United States will continue to maintain troops in Afghanistan in the event Abdullah assumes the presidency, given Karzai's hostility to Washington. Moreover, even if some American troops remain in that country, given all indications from the administration, that number will be severely limited, perhaps to the point where direct American impact on Afghanistan's future will be minimal.
Even more than the withdrawals from Iran and Afghanistan, the president's clear determination to avoid any American foreign entanglement, defining any alternative to his approach as solely that of prosecuting a military campaign, has sent an unequivocal message to the world that America is in a state of retreat. That message has been reinforced by presidential passivity, if not approval, in the face of ongoing reductions to the defense budget.
The message of American retreat from its historic role as the leader of the Free World is not one that the president has intended to transmit, and indeed has protested against. It is now a universally accepted perception, however, and therefore has become increasingly difficult for the administration to counter. Moreover, it is a perception that, absent a major change in policy leading to renewed American international assertiveness (not military engagement, but assertiveness) for the remainder of the president's term, could linger for years. It has the potential to cause possible irreversible harm to America's international standing.
It is not only Vladimir Putin who has taken the measure of American passivity, and has acted accordingly in Crimea and Ukraine. So have the Chinese, who have clashed with Vietnam recently in the South China Sea, and have been increasingly confrontational vis-à-vis Japan over their competing claims to the Daioyu/Senkaku Islands. No doubt the Iranians, North Koreans, and various Al Qaeda offshoots have likewise factored the perceived American withdrawal from the world into their own strategies.
It is not only potential and actual adversaries who are modifying their strategies based on their perception of American passivity. Egypt, an American partner for decades, has openly announced that it is reaching out to Russia at a time when Moscow is increasingly seen in the West as a threat to international stability. India has likewise backed away from closer cooperation with Washington, as its traditional relations with Moscow have remained warm; India was one of the few countries voicing outspoken support for Russia's takeover of the Crimea. No less than fifty-eight countries, including most African states, Israel, China and Argentina, abstained in the General Assembly's condemnation of Russia for its annexation of Crimea, despite intense American lobbying for their votes. The failure of the latest attempt to foster a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians is due in no small part to the perception on both sides that Mr. Obama is simply less personally engaged in foreign policy matters than any of his predecessors reaching as far back as Herbert Hoover. Finally, America's Central European NATO allies have become increasingly worried that American passivity will encourage Moscow to pressure them once Russia has carried out its objectives vis-à-vis Ukraine.
The president's long-standing commitment to "nation building at home" at the expense of maintaining America's standing abroad simply has overlooked the fact that, as former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. James Cartwright, emphatically stressed, "the enemy gets a vote." The Administration’s desperate effort to deal with foreign affairs at arms-length could well enmesh the United States in another war against an aggressor that misconstrued temporary passivity as long-term weakness. Such a conflict may well take place after the election of a new president. But should it come to pass, it will be the lasting and dominating legacy of none other than President Barack Obama.

Dov Zakheim
Dov Zakheim served as the undersecretary of defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer for the U.S. Department of Defense from 2001–2004 and as the deputy undersecretary of defense (planning and resources) from 1985-1987. He is a member of The National Interest's advisory council.

Επιλογικές Αναφορές

Η Δύση ανακαλύπτει ότι δεν διαθέτει πια ένα από τα δύο πιο σημαντικά στοιχεία της επιτυχίας όλων των προηγούμενων πέντε αιώνων: τον έλεγχο του πλεονάζοντος κεφαλαίου. Αυτή είναι μια σημαντική ανωμαλία σε σχέση με τις προηγούμενες ηγεμονικές μεταβάσεις – οι οποίες υπήρξαν όλες μεταβάσεις στο εσωτερικό της Δύσης και του Βορρά.

Το γεγονός ότι το μερίδιο της Δύσης στο παγκόσμιο Ακαθάριστο Εγχώριο Προϊόν πέφτει για πρώτη φορά κάτω από το 50% τους τελευταίους δύο αιώνες έχει τεράστια σημασία. Καθώς νέα κράτη όπως η Βραζιλία, η Ινδία, η Ινδονησία και η Κίνα αποκτούν δύναμη και επιρροή, το διεθνές σύστημα (βολική έκφραση που μάλλον συσκοτίζει τα πράγματα παρά τα φωτίζει) θα αλλάξει ριζικά. Κατά συνέπεια, πολύ περισσότερα πράγματα θα γραφτούν από τη σκοπιά του άλλοτε γνωστού ως Τρίτου Κόσμου...

Η παγκόσμια πολιτική γεωγραφία έχει προχωρήσει από τον ένα κόσμο της δεκαετίας 1920 στους τρείς κόσμους της δεκαετίας 1960 και στους περισσότερους από έξι κόσμους της δεκαετίας 1990. Αντίστοιχα, οι δυτικές παγκόσμιες αυτοκρατορίες του 1920 συρρικνώθηκαν στον πιο περιορισμένο "Ελεύθερο Κόσμο" του 1960 (που περιλάμβανε πολλά μη δυτικά κράτη αντιτιθέμενα στον κομμουνισμό) και, αργότερα, στην ακόμα πιο περιορισμένη "Δύση" του 1990. Αυτή η μεταβολή εκφράστηκε σημασιολογικά, από το 1989 ως το 1993 με την παρακμή της χρήσης του ιδεολογικού όρου "Ελεύθερος Κόσμος" και την αυξανόμενη χρήση του πολιτισμικού όρου "Δύση"... σύμφωνα με την αγαπημένη διατύπωση των ιστορικών "η επέκταση της Δύσης" τελείωσε και "η εξέγερση εναντίον της Δύσης" άρχισε. Η δύναμη της Δύσης, μέσα από μια πορεία με πισωγυρίσματα, παρήκμασε σε σχέση με τη δύναμη των άλλων πολιτισμών. Ο παγκόσμιος χάρτης το 1990 είχε ελάχιστες ομοιότητες με το χάρτη της δεκαετίας 1920. Μεταβλήθηκε η ισορροπία της στρατιωτικής και οικονομικής δύναμης με την πολιτική επιρροή. Η Δύση εξακολουθούσε να έχει σημαντική επιρροή σε άλλες κοινωνίες αλλά σταδιακά οι σχέσεις της Δύσης με άλλους πολιτισμούς περιορίστηκαν στις αντιδράσεις της Δύσης στις εξελίξεις που συνέβαιναν σε αυτούς τους πολιτισμούς. Οι μη δυτικές κοινωνίες, δεν αποτελούν πλέον απλά μέρη της δυτικής ιστορίας, κινούν τα νήματα της δικής τους ιστορίας και διαμορφώνουν και τη δυτική ιστορία.

Η Δύση δεν υπάρχει πια. "Δύση" ήταν το αντικομμουνιστικό στρατόπεδο (διαφορετικά Ιαπωνία και Ν. Κορέα δεν θα ανήκαν στη "Δύση"). Όσοι –και κυρίως οι κοσμοπολίτες "αριστεροί"– θεωρούν ότι η συνοχή της Δύσης στηρίζεται απλώς στις κοινές της αξίες είναι πολιτικά και ιστορικά αφελείς. Οι κοινές αξίες καθεαυτές δεν δημιουργούν κοινά συμφέροντα –το αντίθετο, ναι, μπορεί να συμβεί– ούτε εμπόδισαν ποτέ τις αιματηρές συγκρούσεις μεταξύ χριστιανικών ή φιλελεύθερων λαών. Το πολιτικά σημαντικό ερώτημα είναι: τι εννοούμε όταν λέμε δυτικός προσανατολισμός και τι μπορεί να σημαίνει δυτικός προσανατολισμός για τη Γερμανία αν η Δύση διασπαστεί και η Γερμανία χρειαστεί να επιλέξει π.χ. μεταξύ ενός ευρωπαϊκού χώρου και της φιλίας με τις ΗΠΑ ή, αντίστροφα, εάν η ευρωπαϊκή ενοποίηση γίνει υπό προϋποθέσεις που η πλειονότητα του γερμανικού λαού θα απέρριπτε; Διότι η ώρα της αλήθειας θα σημάνει όταν θα χρειαστεί να γίνει κατανομή όχι πλέον των ωφελημάτων της ευημερίας αλλά του παθητικού και των χρεών.
Παναγιώτης Κονδύλης
Αν οι ίδιες εκείνες Δυτικές Δυνάμεις, οι οποίες το 1919 απέρριψαν το αίτημα της Ιαπωνίας και αρνήθηκαν να κατοχυρώσουν την ισότητα των φυλών στη Συνθήκη των Βερσαλλιών, εν έτει 1997 πασχίζουν επισήμως για την κατανόηση των ξένων πολιτισμών, αυτό δεν αποτελεί οπωσδήποτε πρόοδο της κατανόησης. Όμως αποτελεί ένδειξη μιας δραματικής μεταβολής στον παγκόσμιο συσχετισμό δυνάμεων.