NEW REGIME IN AMERICA ~ What is on the way?

In world politics it is evident that some countries are more powerful than others and that, in various ways, the powerful dominate the weak. However, this is not as simplistically true as it at first seems. In my lifetime I have seen Vietnam, one of the weakest nations, defeat the USA. Dominance is not automatic and much depends upon the strength of motivation of opponents. The British empire was substantially made possible by the ability of the colonial power to recruit sections of the local population in countries that were colonised. Every ruler needs at least some friends.

It can be advanced as a reasonable hypothesis that an empire will persist for a length of time that is inversely proportional to the selfishness of the imperial power. When the dominant country is solely concerned about its own interests and sees the dominated countries simply as resources to be plundered, then the motivation of those who oppose it will become strong. When, on the other hand, the imperial power has some ethos of service toward its vassals, at least some of the population of those vassal countries will see it as a privilege to be associated with the dominant country. Some hegemonies last longer than others.

In the postwar period I think we have seen a gradual change - with some exceptions - in the attitude expressed by the leaders of the currently most dominant country. There was a time when America regarded itself as having a responsibility toward the rest of the world. More recently, the strongest note has been that America must look after itself and only be concerned with its own best interest.

The basic drama of world politics in the current century is bound to revolve around the question of whether America can manage to retain its position as the most powerful country on the planet. It seems to me that there is no single country that has the capacity alone to challenge that position, but that American dominance could come to an end if it found itself faced with a consortium of opposition from other countries acting in concert.

Insofar as America becomes more and more blatantly self-seeking, the likelihood of other countries overtly or tacitly uniting against it must become greater. The new regime now taking office is unprecedentedly strident in its America-first attitude. This has already been enough to bring cries of alarm even from some long standing allies and one can imagine that, behind closed doors, leading politicians in many countries are now making contingency plans.

It is a Buddhist principle and even more so a Taoist one that the person who just thinks of himself is least likely to get what he wants in the long run, and sometimes even in the short one. America will be judged by its actions more than its words, but words are not nothing. It is possible that the days of American dominance are numbered. It is impossible to tell exactly how the downfall will work out. Much depends upon adventitious circumstances that cannot be foreseen. However, on the basis of first principles, it is not unreasonable to imagine that some large scale changes are not that far away.

When we think in a purely utilitarian manner, we are liable to be blind to the factors that really move people's hearts and minds. The single action that probably most tellingly accounted for America losing in Vietnam was the decision of Lindon Johnson to bomb Hanoi. One might think - probably LBJ did think - that increasing pressure on the enemy will advance one's cause. However, what it did do was to harden the resolve of the Vietnamese to get rid of the foreign power. Penalising European industries that want to do business with Mexico might go down well with certain sections of American home opinion, but, as a German industrialist commented, Europe also has ways of putting pressure on America. When your former friends start to talk like your enemies, it is time to worry. We are not yet in a trade war, but it might be on the way and if it happens it is certainly not obvious that America would win it.

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  • The Taming of the Trump??

    After the rhetoric about revolution in relations with China, Japan and E Asia, DT seems, actually, in his present tour, to be reaffirming the status quo.

  • Thanks, John. I think that the arrival of the new US government is already changing attitudes here in Europe and, no doubt, in other places too. Nice to hear from you.

  • A thoughtful and helpful article David!  Unsettling times. Hopefully it will prod people to see more clearly what is happening and want to correct it.

  • Thanks, Marjolaine - "getting over the second world war" is an important theme. It has shaped the psychology of whole nations and is the main reason for the formation of the EU. Yet, as you imply, war never really ended, it just moved around to different places on the planet, a bit like a plague that dying down in one place picks up in another.

  • Thanks, Charlene. I really appreciate your posts.

  • I read somewhere about a Viet Namese citizen explaining to a former soldier for the US who had fought in the Viet Nam war: we in Viet Nam never believed you in America were responsible for the war. We believed it was the governments who had made the war. We kept our hearts open in love and prayed. That is what changed the war, made it stop." 

    I believe this. From my heart, my heart belongs to the world and while the "powers' that be pretend their illusion into oppression of many others, humans and animals and plants and countless species, my heart hears also the call of higher forms of intelligence, be they where they are, beating their hearts to ours in support, care, love. We have not been deserted by the highest powers and we may need to turn to those powers now more than ever. 

    Wherever we are called, to the streets to march, to the papers to write, to the homes to pray, we send the same thoughts and prayers: love, love and respect, love and tolerance, love and care, love that casts out fear, that casts out fear, that casts out fear...this love

  • What is the worst that can happen? - look at Turkey.

    Is this the thin end of the same wedge?


  • If there is a terrorist incident, that will give him power but I think it will polarize more the people. I’m guessing some will even say “see this is what your extreme policies cause”. As you said, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the same USA will “make one happen”.
    I think he is a guy with many insecurities and that he is acting as the “jealous” partner who makes tantrums when ever something he doesn’t like is published. We will see what comes next.

  • Trumps' attacks upon the courts and judiciary are alarming. This looks like a precursor to a power grab. If he were able to take power away from the courts then the US would move a step closer to dictatorship. When one gets a government from either extreme of the political spectrum this is what one fears - that the established institutions will be stripped of power and a kind of tyranny instituted instead. I hope that this is not what is happening in the US, but when political leaders start this kind of rhetoric one is right to be anxious.

    If one were completely Machiavellian one would say that what Trump needs now is for a major terrorist incident to occur on US soil. That would give him the leverage to ride roughshod over all opposition. What is most frightening is that it is probably not beyond the wit of hidden forces in the US to organise one. The targets that a tyrant wants to stamp on are the courts, the media, and any other organisation that has a relatively independent constituency or power base. To control decision making one needs to control information and its distribution as well as any other platforms of authority. We shall soon see whether the predictions that Trump wants to be such a tyrant are true or not.

  • Yes, we do find it difficult to learn. I'm sure that one of the problems in Europe now is that not many people are still alive who can remember WWII, any more. I hope we do not need to do it all over again.

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