Why the US no longer gets respect abroad
It’s a topic that’s been discussed heavily in academic settings for years. However, I believe that we are just beginning to see a serious decline in the international reputation of the United States. Looking at recent statements from the Middle East, actions in East Asia, and troubles at home, it seems more clear than ever that as a nation we are coming to a crossroads.
|![Bryan Adams||Flickr](https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/3200/1l_vGid_P7Kuf1_qH3Orv0w.jpeg)Bryan Adams||Flickr*|
Just today, reports out of Saudi Arabia are announcing serious displeasure by the royal family of being left out of talks with Iran and the lack of US commitment to Syria. Saudi Arabia and Israel represent America’s two biggest allies in the region, and what are sure to become thorns in the side of future presidents as the US looks to rebalance its focus onto Eastern Asia.
For the US, this rebalancing only makes sense. As the US becomes less and less dependent on the Middle East for strategic oil imports, it can afford to withdraw from the region at the risk of a return of instability. The natural gas revolution in the US as well as growing dependence on other forms of energy has allowed the United States to slowly refocus its international interests.
The problem that persists lies with Israel and Saudi Arabia. The US certainly cannot afford to abandon its allies in the region, for fear of sparking doubt in its other allies worldwide, especially Japan and Taiwan. On the other hand, the US also can not afford to continue to get bogged down in wars in the Middle East that continue to run up budget deficits and lock key resources into an area that, frankly, the US doesn’t have much strategic interest in anymore.
Although I am rather uninformed on the matter, the deal with Iran appears to be a big breakthrough for diplomacy in the region, despite the beliefs of the sour Saudi leaders. The war with Syria has been fumbled and now seemingly punted by US leadership, as limited support for the rebels has been halted. How the US deals with the dragging on of the war in Syria and how it can manage to appease Israel and Saudi Arabia without expending too many resources will be key in the coming months and years.
China has abruptly sped up its power grab in East Asia. Within the last month, Xi Jinping’s government has established an ADIZ over the East China Sea, scared US naval vessels in the region, turned back food shipments from the United States, and now plans to cut ties with some of America’s best known media companies.
It seems clear to me that China is no longer afraid of stepping up to the plate in conflicts of interest with the US. It certainly seems as though there is a hidden agenda behind all of these recent events, but unless it has to do with extending Chinese presence in the South China Sea I’m stumped. My only guess is that they are beginning to take a hard stance against US meddling in what they deem to be their affairs (they also requested Western nations stop interfering with Ukranian affairs).
Regardless of China’s motives, it is apparent that this is quickly becoming the most trying region for American foreign policy. The speed with which China has stepped up its efforts to stonewall the US only greater emphasizes my previous point that the US needs to continue to switch its international focus in a pivot towards Asia. Not only does the US need to switch its focus, but it needs to exude a confidence that these nations seem to feel we are currently lacking.
In order to exude this confidence, soothe our allies, and temper the ambitions of potential opposition, our government must first unite at home. It is nearly impossible to give an air of confidence abroad when government officials are locked in a dance that threatens to ruin our own economy. If the United States wants to maintain its standing abroad, it must first take care of matters at home. Only then can we focus our attention to our much needed success in a pivot to Asia and protecting interests in the Middle East.
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