The US will remain the strongest nation for a long time to come. But the rise of Russia, China, and Germany is undermining the concept of the Sole Superpower on earth. We have four equally strong players in the international theater now. However, the twenty first century will be flagged as the century that “Superpowers” lost their obedient followers and smaller countries learned to shift their allegiance and negotiate their loyalty for a higher price.
We grew up during the era of the cold war between two Superpowers “The USA” and “The USSR”. That was during the second half of the twentieth century. However, after the humiliating defeat in Vietnam in the mid-seventies, the USA continued to retreat from the direct involvement of many major conflicts, causing them to lose Iran, Nicaragua, and other strategic conflicts. In 1991, with the withdrawal of the USSR from Afghanistan, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, and the subsequent loss of control of the Eastern block of Europe the Soviet Union was declared dead. This was followed by a dramatic regime change from the communist party to the shady nationalist movement led by Bores Yalcin.
Both the USA and Russia attempted to regain their Superpower status as the years went on, to varying degrees of success. The USA went through a few successful military ventures. Some reasonably justify cause, while others solely to show muscles. Some examples: President Reagan invaded Grenada, a small Caribbean island, in 1983; President Bush, Sr. invaded Panama in 1989; and the removal of Saddam’s troops from Kuwait in 1991.
Meanwhile Russia, under Putin’s leadership, gained a lot of diplomatic, economic, and military strength. Putin and Russia successfully interfered in Georgia, Ukraine, taking back the vital Crimea Peninsula and a significant part of Eastern Ukraine. In addition, Russia built two strategic bases at the Syrian Mediterranean coastal region and totally controls the game on the ground.
The horrible attack on 9/11/2001 on US soil further shocked the image of the traditional secure untouchable Superpower. In addition, the questionable results of the invasion of Afghanistan at the end of 2001 and the horrific results of the occupation of Iraq in spring of 2003, makes us wonder how powerful is what is left of the “Superpowers”?
While the USA and Russia were busy making a mess in every spot around the globe, China and Germany were actively improving their respected roles in the international community. China is gradually and rationally converting to a free market economy, and is involved in Asia and Africa in strictly a business capacity with zero politics. This approach gave China an easy and respectful relationship with all nations and a strong advisory voice. The dramatic unification of Germany in October 1990, followed by the election and rise of a strong female Chancellor Angela Merkel changed the status and the power of the new Germany in both Europe and the world at large.
The increasing role and the strength of China and Germany, and the resurrection of Russia, are going to be at the expense of the USA only. This will lead to a new world of multiple Superpowers rather than one or two dominant Superpowers. Each one of them has its own economic and security interests. These Superpowers are not going to be measured by their nuclear capabilities and missiles heads, but rather by their economic strength and by the respect of other nations.
There are many other factors weakening the influence of the Superpowers, including the growing power of the international corporation, globalization, the massive power of free information through sophisticated social media, and the power of the impact one individual can make. The rise of these factors are taking place at the expense of continued deterioration of the UN, the disrespect of sovereignty of the independent third world nations and its borders, and finally the use of religious and sectarian differences to weaken sovereign nations.
There was a time when the USA was arguably the strongest Superpower in the world, but today we live in an era when the US cannot intimidate small nations like North Korea or defeat ISIS by itself. Mr. Trump’s style and rhetoric is not giving any positive results, rather it is pushing the remainder of the allies away and weakening the role of the USA globally. The traditional allies to the US are publicly disagreeing with much of the United States’ policies and working together without the US to move forward on global agendas.
The USA will remain the strongest nation for a long time to come. But the rise of Russia, China, and Germany is undermining the concept of the Sole Superpower on earth. We have four equally strong players in the international theater now. These powers are: USA, Russia, China, and Germany. With India, Brazil and Turkey designated to rise to superpower status in the future as well. Each of these powers has their own followers. However, the twenty first century will be flagged as the century that “Superpowers” lost their obedient followers and smaller countries learned to shift their allegiance and negotiate their loyalty for a higher price.
Mohammad Hussain Alnajafi
September 10, 2017
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