On 7th October 2023, a defining moment unfolded for the United States' global role. The nation's commitment to champion and exemplify democracy worldwide suffered a significant blow, casting doubt over its recovery. This setback came amid the intensifying Ukraine War that began in 2022, which saw the US respond with substantial military aid, briefly reviving its credibility. However, the recent mass hostage-taking and slaughter of 1,200 Israeli civilians by Hamas, triggering a grueling war in Gaza, has shattered this promise once again.
A Fading Global Influence
The implications of these events extend beyond the immediate suffering of Gaza's 2.2 million residents. It signals an end to the romanticized revival of the US's global pursuit of democracy and heralds the dawn of a new world order. The Ukraine War had rekindled hopes for an American-led globe, prompting discussions of a standoff between democracy and its adversaries. However, the current stalemate in the Ukraine War and the ensuing Gaza conflict have forcefully underscored the declining credibility of the US as the global beacon of freedom and justice.
Domestic Dissent and International Criticism
President Joe Biden's administration initially endorsed Israel's ground invasion, despite forewarnings of its potential for bloodshed. However, growing dissent at home and internationally over this decision, coupled with the failure of his Ukraine policy, have put his leadership under scrutiny. In his address on 20th October, Biden called for the restoration of American influence on the global stage, positioning Ukraine and Gaza as opportunities for US leadership. Yet, these dual crises instead expose the limitations of America's power, threatening its own democracy while hastening the decline of its international leadership.
American Foreign Policy: A History of Failures
Since 1989, when the US emerged victorious from the Cold War, its foreign policy has been riddled with failures. The promise of a 'new world order' led by the US, first announced by President George HW Bush following the Gulf War victory, set high expectations for a benevolent rule by a single superpower. However, these expectations have been consistently let down by the reality of military quagmires and domestic strife. In light of the recent Gaza conflict and the ongoing Ukraine War, it is becoming increasingly clear that the world should not rely on a US burdened by past and present mistakes.
The 'Checks and Balance' team, comprising John Prideaux, Charlotte Howard, and Idrees Kahloon, recently convened in Philadelphia to discuss these developments. Their conversation, part of a broader series of content by The Economist, delved into the implications of America's shifting stance and how the 2024 election could further mold its international position. This series also covers diverse topics such as the growing obesity wage gap, the role of stand-up comedy as a form of resistance among Chinese women living abroad, and tributes to environmental activists like Saleemul Huq.