In the last Presidential election in USA, Presidential candidate Trump used the slogan “America first” very effectively, which largely caught the imagination of US citizens and satisfied their ego. Aided by this single slogan, Trump successfully became the US President.
In the last several decades after the second world war, US citizens have been believing and have been made to believe by the political leaders in USA that USA is the super power in the world and would remain so for all time to come. This thought process created a sort of superiority complex amongst US citizens in general and many of them even started imagining that God has created USA to police the world.
Past challenges :
It is not as if the so called superiority of USA has not been challenged on several times in the past. The cold war with Soviet Union was the major challenge and ultimately USA emerged triumphant, with Soviet Union disintegrating and communist movement in the world almost entirely collapsing.
While USA tried to dominate the world under the impression that everything in the world should take place only with the approval of USA, this view was challenged by national leadership in a few countries such as Vietnam, Korea, Iraq , Cuba, Iran and others. Of course, in all these cases, US emerged triumphant due to it’s military muscle power and financial strength, backed by a large agricultural base , technological achievements and natural resources.
Will USA continue to remain first ? :
Will such situation of USA remaining first in the world continue to be prevalent in the coming years ? Many observers think that it would not be so, as the challenges ahead for USA remaining first in the world will be increasingly become stronger and more severe.
The three challenges :
At present, the three challenges faced by US in maintaining it’s super power status in the world arise largely due to the following factors.
1. China is emerging as a strong economic and military power, though not matching USA till now, but likely to do so in not distant future, due to the strong and totalitarian government in China with ambitious leadership. ( somewhat similar to Nazi government in Germany under Hitler’s leadership).
2. The steady growth of Islamic fundamentalism and Islamic terrorists have now reached alarming proportions, with Muslims constituting around 22% of world population and with steadily increasing population growth amongst Muslims that is likely to touch 50% of world population in the future.
September 11 , 2001 attack on World Trade Centre by determined Islamic extremists , killing and injuring thousands of innocent citizens in the heart of USA , clearly exhibited the vulnerability of US to the attack by Islamic extremists. Though attacks of such magnitude have not taken place in USA since then, the threat is real and possible at any time, in spite of the vigilance exercised by US government.
3. There is increasingly visible divisiveness and lack of cohesion amongst the US population due to dilution of population caused by steady increase in the influx of Asians, Muslims, refugees / illegal entrants from Mexico, apart from historical blacks and whites divide.
4. Such scenario is leading to spread of suspicions and hatred , which is an internal threat that can weaken USA considerably. Of late, shoot outs in universities , shopping malls and other public places have become disturbingly too frequent and US government has offered no tangible explanation for such violent incidents ,which are disturbing social stability. While it is vaguely argued that gun culture is the reason, no efforts have been made by US government to curb the gun culture effectively with the seriousness that it deserves.
Are strategies of US government adequate ?
Above three challenges to the status of USA as super power in the world is clearly evident and US President is certainly aware of this .
US government has taken some definite steps to checkmate China by launching a trade war and is condemning Islamic terrorism around the world. However, many people think that US President’s efforts to control such trends appear to be weak, lack fundamental strength and even look like cosmetic. The forces challenging USA remain growing and strong.
The very fact that US President thought it necessary to meet the President of North Korea , which is a weak and isolated country, by travelling to Singapore to talk peace, makes one suspicious whether US lacks confidence that it can continue to browbeat the world.
The recent shootings and violent incidents all over USA , though isolated ones , is clearly showing rising trend and nothing worthwhile has been done by US government to solve this issue so far.
In the past decades, US was able to manage many challenges largely by using it’s military power and economic strength. In the case of the present three challenges faced by USA, it appears that military supremacy and strong financial strength by themselves, would not be adequate.
Whither strategies ?
US President Trump gives an impression of remaining confused, not knowing how exactly to go about in meeting the challenges ahead.
In the case of trade war with China, both USA and China are losing, in view of the mutual dependence built over the years by way of large scale US investments and technology going into China and US market becoming the largest dumping ground for China.
The Muslim terrorists cannot be defeated by a war process and alternate strategies to tackle them are needed and are yet to be evolved.
The internal unrest in USA needs a strong, responsive and matured leadership, which present USA does not seem to have.
US has to keep it’s fingers crossed whether it can continue to be “America first”.
(Author N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the “Nandini Voice for the Deprived,” a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.)
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