The United States Of Power
‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity….’
The famed Dickensian approach which stood for contrasts and contradiction in Britain and France is true for the current world order also.
As we begin to wind up 2023, the world is not a safer place to live.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine although now old is a story of contradictions and colonial pasts. With Russian dreams of a Greater Soviet Union and Western expansion of NATO taking shape, the world entered into a new conflict.
While the ‘old’ war between Russia and Ukraine soon entering its third year rages on, a new conflict between Israel and Hamas also brings a new sordid tale to the fore.
While the conflict is not new, it is a cautionary tale of the exclusion and dehumanisation of an entire community. A tale of revenge rooted in deeper political malaise and historical concoctions enraged by high emotions and deep politics, the conflict between Israel and Hamas is almost a new tale of death and doom.
With the West squarely behind the Zionist state and the Arab world’s unusual silence, there is no end to the misery of Palestinians. Scores of young innocent children and women are getting slaughtered every day and there are more to come.
A lot has already been said about the deep humane side of the conflict and a lot will follow. This disdainful conflict coupled with the previous one provides a glimpse of the world order we are living in.
The world is indeed churning and moving towards a different world order but if we were to wait and analyse the laws of the jungle as they stand. There is one fact that The United States Of America is the only ‘capable hegemon’ in the world and the order is more unipolar than one thought it was.
How? The U.S. occupies a position that is unprecedented in the history of international relations. The essential truth of today’s world is that the U.S. has the power to achieve its aims in a way that other nations do not.
The United States functionally still controls the world’s largest military, owns the maximum naval bases abroad, the American dollar controls 88% of the world economic trade and runs the global organisation. But this is a tale that optimists and Pax Americana’s propounders have already told you many times.
Adding to this, the United States currently sponsors two of the most gruesome wars of the century. It goes beyond just sponsoring though, it had attempted to build a righteous cause around that sponsoring and had succeeded in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It is supposedly on the right side of the conflict where it is standing for the life of honest Ukrainians.
Now the interesting part is, when it comes to the Israel-Hamas conflict American righteousness is in shambles but here it extends its hard power and ably restrains any repercussions in any forums or anywhere. American support for Israel isn’t just crucial in the war, it’s paramount.
The ability with which it had prevented any backlash in any forums is because of its hard power to elicit favourable responses.
China, the ‘revanchist hegemon’ is disinterested at best or incapable at worst. But the fact is, it’s mum on the issues and is unwilling to stand up for anything.
The Russian premier’s public exaltation decrying the war is at best an empty cry for change which he cannot do or aid.
The biggest arm twisting was done to the Arab world, Their eerie silence is unusual but tells a tale of problems that the economies of the Arab world are going through a churn like never before. As climate change takes over, the world is eyeing alternative sources of energy and The Arab world is aware that for long it cannot hold its oil monopoly to roost, for that they would need the United States to aid them in the quest for ‘greener pastures’
The Islamic Republic Of Iran despite being the active power in the conflict is at best a strong pressure group that is leveraging regional power to settle scores and also elicit favourable responses from the region and beyond.
The other powers are at best fence sitters and moralists in orientation. The ilk of other powers not doing anything says a lot about the world order in its current form where nobody is willing to tread an uncharted territory largely due to the benefits they had reaped from the current world order. It also tells a lot about the unquestionable authority that the current United States enjoys in almost every field. While the power is waning, its attractiveness is not and there is no alternative to it, to date.
To borrow an expression from Professor Daniel Immerwahr’s seminal work Hide an Empire, A History of the Greater United States. In the years after World War II, Immerwahr notes, the United States moved away from colonialism. Instead, it put innovations in electronics, transportation, and culture to use, devising a new sort of influence that did not require the control of colonies. That is the influence that has propelled America to the heights it is today.
Pax Americana, the colloquial term for American hegemony is still used by naysayers as it is in decline, the truth is the ability of The United States to effectively use the moral card/soft power in the Russia-Ukraine war and hard power in the Israel/Hamas conflict tells a cautionary tale of a dynamic superpower unnerved by anything and unmoved by any moral compunctions. The United States Of America still leads the world in toto, not just as a shining beacon of light for democracy but as a potent hard power. With all its misgivings and its fallacies, the fact that it is leading the world today makes it more than just a united federation but The United States Of Power.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team