Three reasons of USA impotence in foreign policy. – Forbes
USA Europe Russia
forbes.com bssb.be 11.09.2014
Deliberations at the current NATO summit in Wales may or may not produce a reduction in tensions over Ukraine. But one thing is certain: irrespective of how the stand-off is eventually resolved, Vladimir Putin will emerge with his reputation powerfully enhanced.
Basically Putin is the new Napoleon, and the Ukraine crisis is his diplomatic Austerlitz: he will keep Crimea and will considerably enhance the ability of Russian-speaking minorities in Ukraine’s eastern provinces to stand up to Kiev.
Yet Obama’s critics are fundamentally wrong in blaming his impotence on personal failings. The problem is not Obama; it is America. Over the last sixty years, and in particular over the last thirty, America has thrown away almost all the once vast leverage it enjoyed to set the global diplomatic agenda.
It requires just a moment’s reflection to remember why America’s diplomatic clout once loomed so large – and why that clout has now almost disappeared. Three reasons in particular explain the sea change:
1. Production technology. Almost right across the industrial waterfront, the United States once led the world in production technology. This positioned it as a sort of industrial fairy godmother courted by countless other nations desperate to boost their productivity with transfers of America’s more efficient industrial knowhow. Things are different now. The problem is that if you don’t produce much, you don’t have much production technology. Any nation that solicits transfers of advanced production technology these days must go elsewhere, most notably to Japan and Germany (ironically these two nations owe their leadership in large part to their earlier skill in winkling world-beating technologies out of the United States).
2. Finance. As by far the world’s largest exporter of capital in the early post-World War II era, the United States was once courted by any nation in need of external financing. That was a lot of nations. Unfortunately the United States has long since migrated from being, on net, a capital exporter to a capital importer. For decades now it has ranked among the ne’er-do-wells of modern diplomacy with a begging bowl constantly out for inflows of foreign capital and its net foreign liabilities are now in real terms the largest of any Great Power since the late-era Ottoman Empire. Ironically among the most publicized of the Obama administration’s sanctions on Russia is that many major Russian corporations have been denied access to American capital markets. As a slap on the wrist, this is about effective as denying a resident of the Amazon rainforest access to the water resources of the Sahara desert. It is the United States that needs Russian capital, not the other way around. Basically the Obama administration is doing Putin’s work in getting the Wall Street pests out of Russia’s hair.
3. Trade. In days of yore when the United States protected its markets, its allies and other foreign nations vied with one another for privileged access to those markets. Not anymore. Now that the United States has bought into global free trade via its entry into the World Trade Organization, it has unilaterally signed away all the enormous leverage it once enjoyed in trade relations.
forbes.com – bssb.be