How America's decline as a global power could open new 'regional' doors: historian

How America's decline as a global power could open new 'regional' doors: historian
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During George W. Bush’s presidency, neoconservatives weren’t shy about using the term “American exceptionalism.” But these days, some of the neocons of the Bush years are admitting that Donald Trump’s four years in the White House did a lot to damage the United States’ reputation around the world as well as its relationships with European NATO members.

President Joe Biden has stressed that rebuilding NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) alliances that Trump undermined is a high priority for the U.S. And Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had an unintended consequence: inspiring Sweden and Finland to want to become NATO members.

Nonetheless, the U.S. still receives a great deal of negative coverage in European publications that focus heavily on the country’s problems, from MAGA authoritarianism to the lack of universal health care to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. European reporters and pundits, from the Netherlands to Spain to Denmark, sound like they wish the U.S. well but are worried about their ally’s wellbeing.

READ MORE:How Trump’s 'isolationist' anti-NATO policy is 'living on through' Josh Hawley: report

In a think piece/essay published by The Nation on January 12, history professor Alfred McCoy argues that the United States’ influence as a global power is in decline. But McCoy’s article isn’t a total downer, and he also argues that for the U.S., become less influential globally could give the U.S. a chance to pay more attention to problems in its own part of the world.

“In this century, with its disastrous wars, Washington has already lost much of its influence in both the Greater Middle East and Central Asia, as once-close allies — Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — go their own ways,” McCoy writes. “Meanwhile, China has gained significant control over Central Asia, while its recent ad-hoc alliance with an ever-more-battered Russia only fortifies its growing geopolitical power on the Eurasian continent.”

McCoy continues, “Although the Ukraine war has momentarily strengthened the NATO alliance, the unilateral U.S. retreat from Afghanistan in 2021, ending a disastrous 20-year war, forced European leaders for the first time in half a century to consider what life and NATO might be like on a changing planet. They are only now beginning to imagine what taking charge of their own defense would mean perhaps a decade from now, with most U.S. military forces withdrawn from Europe. For the first time in memory, in other words, we could truly find ourselves on another planet.”

McCoy goes on to say that with the United States’ “global power fading fast,” it “will undoubtedly become a far more regional power.”

READ MORE: Watch: Biden mocks Trump at NATO when asked what happens if former president launches 2024 campaign

“While some Washington insiders might see this trend as at best a retreat or at worst a defeat,” McCoy observes, “it’s actually an opportunity to fundamentally reconsider relations with our home region, North America.”

McCoy stresses, however, that the U.S., over the years, has caused its share of political and economic problems in Latin America. But the historian also argues that the U.S. could have a positive influence in the Americas in the years to come — perhaps with an EU-like alliance of countries in its own “hemisphere.”

“Should such a union prove effective, it could be expanded, much as the EU has been, until it incorporates the entire Western Hemisphere, supplanting or revitalizing the now-comatose OAS,” McCoy writes. “By taking the necessary steps beyond CAFTA, NAFTA, and NORAD, Washington could help lead its North American neighbors, roiled by the ravages of climate change, toward a more perfect union. In the process, this entire hemisphere would ultimately become a far safer haven for its share of humanity in the troubled decades to come.”

READ MORE: How bipartisan mistakes fueled America's decline — as the liberal world order falters

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