The era of a ‘leaderless world’

The downfall of the roman empire was due to overextending its territory beyond its ability to manage. It was so big it collapsed under its own weight.

Today’s America is in such situation. No longer will it be “the indispensible nation to maintain world order”. The new normal is a foreign policy that is an “inward-looking domestic defense” against terrorists.

The fiscal strain was too much. It used to be that America’s military presence was in 130 countries in varying degrees of gravitas. Its defense spending was bigger than all of the world combined. Now, it only equals the combined spending of the seven richest nations (including Russia and China).

It will renounce “intervention” as a Donald J. Trump major foreign policy and less and less American troops will be in foreign lands.

The “Robocop” mentality is of another day. The Republican-as-a-warfare party will fade. It will not follow the old Gorbachev model and today’s North Korea who spend billions for defense while the masses line up for bread.

Is this inconsistent with Trump’s gung-ho defense spending? Not at all, but the direction of their war chant will not be an overseas adventure.

The world will have to get used to this new reality. No more policeman-nation around. And Trump’s early friendly overtures to Russia make many nervous about the future of such heretofore strong security alliances for world peace, like the NATO, the European Union and the United Nations.

Who will lead? Not Russia, whose fortunes may not rise dramatically with the moderate price levels of oil, its main export.  Europe is in disarray where individual nations are grappling with political or economic woes.

The Middle East has been punched-drunk with government changes and an ISIS bringing hell to some of them. What about Asia?

Perhaps, the flash point is Asia due to the contentious situation in the China Sea. China has been arming to the teeth in the area, building airports and armed ship presence. It is also constructing a navy arsenal in most regions of the world.

This development China financed by becoming the No. 2 economic power in the world, overtaking both Germany and Japan.

This is where the Trump administration will be forced to awaken.

This is no longer intervention but an issue of survival since the China Sea is host to a large percentage of maritime trade among nations. Denied access to the China Sea is suicide for any nation.

The US recently deployed aircraft carriers in the area and will hold a joint military exercise with South Korea, including the use of jet bombers and a nuclear submarine. Japan will have to be coaxed to present a more  aggressive united front against China.

For even longtime ally Australia cannot frontally slap China in the face as it exports 30 percent of its goods to China. On the other hand, many Asean nations are unsure of America’s military commitments to the region and have proven lukewarm to Washington’s more recent overtures.

Many think that America, because of its wealth, is “the least to suffer from the consequences of their own failures”. But what about them the smaller nations? Where should they position themselves with the colossal neighbor China just around the corner? Thus, the “folding arms” attitude.

The threat to the “freedom of maritime navigation” and trade in the China Sea may, perhaps, finally awaken America from its slumber, that to protect its self-interest America cannot do it alone. Allies are needed.

The motivation may no longer be intervention to free a people from a cruel dictator or put some order in a society as Robocop did in the movies but simply to protect America’s selfish economic interest.

But any action it takes relative to the China Sea is not necessarily a noble stance of a respected world leader, but that of an enraged Shylock denied the right to sell his wares in the market place.

A leaderless world, indeed, therefore, we have really become.


Bingo Dejaresco, former banker now financial consultant and media practitioner is chairman of  both Finex Professional Development  and Broadcast  Media committees. But his views here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of Finex.


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