Monday, June 3, 2013

The Role of the United States in World Affairs

"In the Middle East, the regional order created by the colonial powers, France and Britain, following the First World War, was maintained throughout the Cold War and the brief era of unilateral US domination that followed; the convulsions of recent years, however, could well bring about its end. The colonial borders are being called into question, and what will become of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan is difficult to forecast. The potential for regional disintegration and reconstitution — a process that can unleash untold violence, as in Syria — is greater than ever.
Moreover, while there is no new regional hegemon to follow America, there are numerous contenders for the role. But none — Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia being the most prominent — is strong enough to decide matters in its own favour. Given the lack of a new force for order in the region in the foreseeable future, and the old one’s unwillingness to act, the danger of long-lasting violent confrontation is growing.
Even if America once again pursued military intervention in the region, its power would no longer be sufficient to enforce its will. Things look different in Asia, where the US not only remains present, but has increased its commitments. In East and South Asia, nuclear powers (China, Russia, India, Pakistan, and North Korea) or near-nuclear powers (Japan and South Korea) are all entangled in dangerous strategic rivalries. Add to this a regular dose of North Korean irrationality.
While the US presence in the region has so far prevented its numerous conflicts and rivalries from intensifying, sources of uncertainty are multiplying. Will China be wise enough to seek reconciliation and partnerships with its neighbours, large and small, rather than aiming for regional domination? What will become of the Korean Peninsula? And what implications does Japan’s nationalist turn — and its risky economic policy — hold for the region? Can India and China stem the deterioration in bilateral relations? Is state failure looming in Pakistan?

In this article by Joschka Fischer, many points reflect more decisions on the horizon for the United States.  As the school year winds down, and another generation goes forth into the world to learn and grow, we teachers hope they are equipped with the desire to care about these troubled nations, and look to their new positions in their own.

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