August 31, 2007

Preserving Primacy

Naturally then, we must ask ourselves, what kind of comprehensive global strategy would preserve primacy most effectively in the face of so many, and varied challenges.

Primacy provides scores of benefits for the United States, it would not be practical for it to sit back and permit other states to catch up thus surrendering the many rewards of its international influence as sourced through its massive ideological, military, and economic capacity. Unquestionably, the U.S. must continually review its grand strategy for engaging with the world to preserve its present position, at least for as long as it can.

There are some clear considerations in light of this. U.S. military power although robust, should not be wasted needlessly, and its economy requires prudent management to enhance its long-term strength since its global power is also dependant on economic output. Especially given that, both the Chinese and Indian economies are set to be in the same league by around 2050 whilst declining and ageing populations will adversely affect the output of Japan, Russia, and the European Union. Also of concern is that both China and India are well placed to bite into America’s technological advantages, accordingly to keep its edge, its task is to fashion a new evolving international economic architecture, one that will maintain stability and growth. U.S. vulnerability also stems through its considerable dependency on oil, indeed competition for natural resources is likely to peak well before 2050.1 Clearly, numerous trials will continue to beset U.S. policy makers, naturally then, we must ask ourselves, what kind of comprehensive global strategy would preserve primacy most effectively in the face of so many, and varied challenges.

Evidently, the present strategy whereby the U.S. attempts to run the course of global proceedings on its own, more or less setting the agenda and using military power to enforce it, is proving costly, I am not solely referring to Iraq. It is counterproductive to be derisive of existing institutions and indifferent toward the judgment of other nation states. In the longer term, this weakens America in two ways by eroding America’s ability to attract the support of even some of its traditional allies and emboldening purported rogue states such as Iran and North Korea and past enemies like Russia who is presently engaged in both re-building and old-fashioned saber rattling. Finally, it also exacerbates existing anti-americanist views around the world. Global hegemony per se, as encouraged by the likes of Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol, and various individuals associated with the Project for a New American Strategy2 is realistically, beyond even the United States.

Nevertheless, there is nothing improper about the U.S. seeking to support only those forms of government embracing liberal democratic processes, nor is there anything wrong intervening in global affairs to encourage forms of regional balancing in favour of U.S. interests. To achieve this and notably, safeguard primacy, a stratagem that primarily employs America’s traditional approach by which it deploys its power, in no uncertain terms, only when there exists a direct threat to its interests is now called for. Hence, offshore balancing which utilises and assists friendly regional powers (its allies and including Israel) to curb the rise of potential hostile nation states comes close to being the ideal option.

As stated in the opening paragraph this approach logically engages but more importantly, it is does not segregate. One must not assume that such a policy would render the U.S. inactive, more exactly; it would intervene even militarily but only when friendly regional powers are unable to act decisively of there own. Instead of trying to be the global police officer, the United States needs to adopt a more selective, restrained foreign policy with rules that concentrate on defending America's expansive array of vital interests. Because it limits military intervention overseas, offshore balancing in fact makes it less burdensome to intervene when genocide or other vital interests are threatened by rogue states, such as Iran.

American global pre-eminence is not a permanent arrangement but attempts to extend it through the present doctrine build resentment and resistance. Military power must be upheld perhaps even augmented but used more judiciously. The effects of such a strategy will filter through to other elements of U.S. relations and promote its economy, expand flows of information, technology, capital, goods and services. While terrorism and nuclear proliferation complicates matters it is through consensus coupled with military muscle that best results be achieved. Engagement therefore becomes paramount to U.S. interests for if America wants to retain its position of primacy for, as long as possible it must convince the world that its dominance is preferable to any alternatives. A better balance is sought as empires rule best and longest, through consent as opposed to force of arms. As a final point, it will also assist the United States through the enhancement soft power, winning hearts and minds, and respond effectively to competing worldviews, such as Chinese non-interference, Islamism, and European social democracy which are developing wide appeal of late.

1. In 2000, net U.S. oil imports, as a percentage of total supply was 52.8%, by 2025, it is estimated to be around 68%.

2. Established during the Clinton years, the goal of this educational institution is to promote the USA’s world leadership, which critics interpret as a blueprint for world domination. Some 20 of its members took up positions in the Bush administration inc. the Vice President and Secretary of Defense. As a strong advocate of the invasion of Iraq, its reputation has been tarnished.

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WomanHonorThyself said...

ah my friend u cant win hearts and minds, ...of those that dont have one!..great read!

David Schantz said...

I think it would be a good idea for us (the United States)to take the friendly neighbor approach. No military cut backs, but use it for defense/protecting our borders. Many neighbor hood bullies have found that the use of force will only get others to unite against you.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

Ottavio (Otto) Marasco said...

WomanHThyself: It would be noble however to try, all the while focusing on the longer term benifits of (even only) partial success. Thanks for dropping by...

David: Good point, protecting your borders is more important than most think. In terms of the strategy, its much the same as ones attempts to smooth relations with a fellow human, through positive stroking.

Anonymous said...

Well said, with some keen obervations, although I don't think India and China will "bite" into out tech lead anytime soon.

Donald Douglas said...

Interesting post! Long live American hegemony!

Ottavio (Otto) Marasco said...

Donald: Your commentary is always welcome here!