For over 40 years, the United States of America have shown a sad face to the rest of the world: a super power that lost its actual strength. Hard to forget the terrible military venture in Viet-Nam, between 1955 and 1975. Unable to fight guerillas on the field. Unable, despite chemical weapons and numerous troops, to stop the spreading of insurrections to the neighboring countries (Laos, Cambodia). Well before, the US tried to convince Europe that they had been the one and only saviour, during World War II. However any serious war strategist will put a stress on the crucial role of the Soviet military forces, and Hitler’s army failures on the East front versus Staline’s fierce troops and artillery. During the post-war era, a well organized propaganda, with key partners such as the United Kingdom and Germany, and a strong media push (Hollywood and many other movie industry sattelites, the radio broadcasting and the booming TV) helped develop a common faith in America, as a hegemonic country, a world leader in all areas (military, economic and cultural).
However, history proves that the US have only been able to attack small or medium size ennemies. They never ever directly fought real rivals, and always benefited from a very unbalanced power struggle. Be it against Afghanistan or Iraq. A series of short victories, in a blitzkrieg fashion. Battles that were described and promoted in a very « video games » mode. Remember the « War in the Gulf » or « Desert storm » operations covered by CNN or Fox News? Hopefully the ennemy was always under-equipped, with much less air forces than the american (officially « western » and « peaceful ») axis. Obviously companies like Halliburton and Co were happy sponsors and suppliers of these breathtaking TV shows! But once the bombing was made, the Viet-Nam postwar syndrom would come back, again and again. Remember the Veterans, and check the mindset of US troops nowadays, so down and often stuck with suicidal urges. Who wants to leave his home and his country, for a remote and unknowned destination, and so much uncertainty there? There’s a limit to national pride and military propaganda.
According to Emmanuel Todd, writer of « Après l’Empire », an essay on the breakdown of the american system, the US military powerlessness must be connected with social and democratic progress that occured since the second half of the XXth century, all over the world. On the one hand, the imperialist power of the US doesn’t impress any longer, especially in Russia and Iran. On the other hand, the development of literacy and access to culture, all over the world, have been slowing down military fevers. And though conflicts still occur nowadays, globally war today is far less military, and way more economic. In other words, the US hard power and opportunism appears less and less compatible with the real world. Meanwhile, although they lost control of their strategy, Washington’s « falcons » carry on pretending to keep control. Their senseless gestures, including various destabilization plans by CIA agents, only delivered micro-military shadow plays. Hence the recent critics of Putin to Obama at the United Nations. Putin simply blamed the West, and mainly the US as their key character, for being powerless and, worse, « irresponsible« !
America is still frightening. But not for the same reasons as before! The US looks like a geopolitical drunkard, wandering in the streets, at daytime, with a machine gun. US most loyal vassals, the EU and Japan, started to move away from that ugly face of America. Europe is painfully learning from a few failures in Syria, Lybia and Ukraine. And like it or not, Europe will have to learn to talk to Russia, as a meaningful partner. Japan has to compromize with other Asian leaders, such as China and further, India, traditionally non-aligned. Some people predict the rise of a Eurasian power, based on alternative money and reinforced and independent military forces. Some people, like Jim Rickards, forecast the fall of the US dollar as a global currency. Like it or not, Eurasia as a whole remains America’s major partner – both as main creditor and as main supplier. That’s why the US is putting a stress on investment and trade negotiations, through the so-called tran-atlantic and trans-pacific deals. The rest of the world shouldn’t be skeptical in front of a more independent America, as far as energy resources are concerned. First, the « shale boom » will not last forever, and already shows some signs of weakness. Second, besides fossil fuels imports, the US wealth model mainly depends on consumption and imports of all sorts of goods and services from the rest of the world. A big bird of prey, the American lifestyle was so far based on predation with a trust in of infinite resources taken from abroad! Not to forget other people’s money, namely the US federal debts…
So many changes occured, both within the real field and the symbolic field, since the development of conflicts in the « arab world ». The United States of America, from the start of the Israel-Palestine conflict, via the 09/11 of 2001, down to the Subprimes disaster in 2008, have been sent into turmoil. Casting doubts and anxiety, both to their citizens and to their historical partners abroad. Therefore it’s hard to predict the future of the american power. But no one should turn his/her back to the recent history, in order to better understand America and their relationship with the rest of the world.