America’s Fragile Future

 

The U.S. mainstream’s flailing about over alleged Russian “meddling” in American politics reflects a nation that is rapidly losing its global dominance and fearful of even the slightest challenge, as Gilbert Doctorow explains.

By Gilbert Doctorow

Does the United States have a future as a great power?

President Donald J. Trump and President Emmanuel Macron on July 13, 2017. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Twenty years ago posing this question would have seemed absurd. The United States was fully self- confident about its position as the sole surviving superpower in the world. It faced virtually no obstacles or objections to its performance on behalf of the “public good,” a process that supposedly brought order to the world either through the liberal international institutions that it helped to create after World War Two and dominated, or through unilateral action when necessary via “coalitions of the willing” aimed at bringing down one or another disruptive malefactor on a regional stage.

From many voices abroad it heard “amen” to its claims of exceptionalism and farther-seeing vision that came from its standing taller, as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright put it. The “indispensable nation.”

Fourteen years ago, when America prepared for its ill-conceived invasion of Iraq and encountered loud resistance from France and Germany, backed up by Russia, it became possible to wonder whether U.S. global hegemony could last. The disaster that the Iraqi adventure quickly became within a year of George W. Bush declaring “mission accomplished” rolled on and progressively diminished the enthusiasm of allies and others hitherto on the U.S. bandwagon for each new project to re-engineer troublesome nations, to overthrow autocrats and usher in an age of “liberal democracy” across the globe.

Still, the doubts were discussed sotto voce. Governments tended to conform to what the Russians colorfully call “giving someone the finger in your pocket.” Observers spoke their piece privately against the violations of international law and simple decency that the United States was perpetrating — and against the swathe…

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