Global Leadership Vacuum: Europe Incapable, America Unwilling … The Exhausted Nation … US Vice President Joe Biden is visiting Germany this week in an effort to strengthen trans-Atlantic ties. Global politics have come to a standstill in recent years, with the United States unwilling to show leadership and Europe and other major powers unable to fill the vacuum … Biden might still speak eloquently in public about trans-Atlantic cooperation. But, behind closed doors, his main message will be that America and its allies need to come up with a new way of divvying up responsibilities in this uncertain world. In 1998, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called America the "indispensable nation." But now, 15 years later, it is primarily an exhausted one, a global power in decline that has its gaze turned toward the domestic front rather than Afghanistan or the Middle East. – Der Spiegel
Dominant Social Theme: The West's power is waning, unfortunately, and Europe doesn't want to do its share.
Free-Market Analysis: This article continues to promote one of the power elite's most important memes … that the world is a dangerous place and each country must do its part to protect Western civilization.
A subdominant social theme would be that Western citizens should continue to urge their governments to do more, militarily speaking. This is the underlying theme of THIS article in Der Spiegel, in fact. The article shows us clearly that US abilities to shore up its regulatory democracy have diminished – with little chance of others stepping in to fill the security vacuum.
The article comes close to suggesting – but does not – that Germany ought to take the place of the US. It is clear that US officials are positioning its allies for a lower profile when it comes to US global policing. Here's some more from the article:
On Friday afternoon, Biden will hold a powwow with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. On Saturday, he is scheduled to deliver a speech at the annual Munich Security Conference …
Since the end of the Cold War, US soldiers have spent almost twice as many months at war than they had in previous decades. The country has pumped a phenomenal amount of money into its military. Indeed, in 2011, it spent more on defense than the next 19 military powers combined. And, of course, this only contributed to its record mountain of $16 trillion (€11.8 trillion) in public debt.
When Biden gets up to speak, he will relay a message from his boss, US President Barack Obama. And the message will be: "Enough!" After all, when Obama recently gave his second inaugural address, he avoided making any reference to John F. Kennedy's 1961 inaugural speech, in which he said that America would "pay any price, bear any burden … in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty" around the globe. Instead, the key sentence of Obama's speech was: "A decade of war is now ending."
Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, didn't focus on creating a better world in his speech. Instead, he talked about a better America, one with more opportunities for immigrants, more rights for homosexuals and less social inequality. Today's America is deeply divided, but all sides agree on one point: America's well-being is more important than the world's.
Obama's predecessor, President George W. Bush, had far-reaching, messianic visions for American foreign policy. But what remains of that in the Obama era is the so-called "Eisenhower Doctrine," as US commentators are re-discovering it. As a general, Dwight D. Eisenhower was the hero of World War II. But, as America's president from 1953 to 1961, he wanted to avoid bloodshed at all costs — or at least the spilling of American blood. According to biographer Jean Edward Smith, from the end of the Korean War till the end of his presidency, America didn't suffer a single combat fatality.
Here's the "catch."
We would argue the above is simply another promotion – a dominant social theme that sounds persuasive but has little basis in reality. The US has perhaps 1,000 overseas bases, is involved behind the scenes in some five to seven regional wars and maintains a formidable "volunteer" army.
The US military-industrial complex is the most powerful influencer in US society, the center of a power nexus that neither political party is apt to significantly challenge. In fact, one of the biggest changes in the US political economy is the rise of gray and black ops Intel agencies.
There are some 16 (probably many more) separate Intel organizations operating within or around the orbit of Homeland Security. The war on terror has given the military and intelligence community a virtual blank check and they have cashed it over and over.
This is only to be expected as US Intel agencies and military departments are essentially run by a larger power elite that stands behind the US government and uses US power to build world government. The policies of the US government – when it comes to the CIA and Pentagon – have little to do with US "national interest" and much to do with the goal of global governance.
One can argue that the US – along with allies – fought World War I and World War II to help the power elite create the fundamentals of world government (the UN, World Bank and IMF ). These are now being utilized to pacify areas of the world that are not yet amenable to the creation of a brave, new – and centralized – world.
What is also true is that public patience is waning when it comes to US military adventurism. The Internet era itself – and information available on the Internet – makes the issue of large-scale military adventurism increasingly divisive within the US. The US public in aggregate is tired of war.
One can argue, therefore, that a lot of the pacifistic talk is more promotional than realistic. The US provides the global power elite with the muscle it needs to promote its plans. Any serious subsidence in the US's status as a global enforcer would be surprising, indeed.
More likely, wars now taking place are apt to become (more than ever) joint enterprises. This is perhaps one reason for the series of wars taking place in the Middle East and Africa now. The Der Spiegel article speaks not only of a diminishment of US military activities but of Europe stepping up in aggregate to take the place of the US when it comes to this sort of adventurism.
Which country could step in and replace the United States? China is panicking about whether its economy is losing steam, Russia has degenerated into a petro-dictatorship, and Brazil and India are faltering. At the same time, international institutions, such as the United Nations, NATO and the European Union, are suffering from an identity crisis about what they're supposed to do.
As political scientist Ian Bremmer suggested in his recent book "Every Nation for Itself," we currently find ourselves in an era marked by a global "leadership vacuum." This could turn out to be a time of forward progress, especially for the Europeans, who may ultimately become the new global police.
Again, this seems to us a kind of promotion of sorts. The US is not apt to seriously reduce its military footprint, or not if the power elite can help it. More likely, any slight drawdown is liable to be compensated for by an aggressive drone program that is expanding in the US every day – and soon will be complemented by a European one.
What the powers-that-be are actually after by promoting a slight US military drawback is to generate an increased European participation, from what we can tell. European public opinion remains anti-war and even anti-military so creating a security vacuum provides elites with the opportunity to urge further European involvement as part of a larger "world police."
Observing the Middle East and Africa, we see a constant ratcheting up of the war on terror; the rhetoric may feature US drawdowns but the reality behind the scenes is that the powers-that-be are working diligently to create more "hot spots" that need US and NATO tending.
US rhetoric is not matched by the reality of "boots on the ground." Positioning the US as a waning power may merely be a way of further entangling Europe in expanding military adventurism.