The Decline of the United States

This blog post was featured in the Huffington Post on May 15, 2015.

I was privy recently to a thought-provoking inside analysis of American foreign policy. A highly respected Harvard professor, who is an advisor to the Washington establishment, told a small intimate audience, off the record, that one of America’s fears is that Russia, China, and Germany, will form a political and economic alliance. Such an alliance would make the USA irrelevant in world affairs and the United States would lose its position as leader of the developed world.

I believe that is precisely what is happening now. The cause?

Misjudgment in foreign affairs policy on the part of the present American government.

What happened?

America wanted to remove President Vladimir Putin from power for several years now. Washington set out to humiliate him and cause enough economic hardship in Russia to bring him down. At least that was the intention because Russia refused to follow American strategy in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Iran, to mention some.

To undermine Putin, the State Department supported the Ukrainian- Maidan revolution, and urged Ukraine to join NATO, which is set against Russia. Putin saw that as an opportunity to take over the Crimea.

That caused the West to impose sanctions on Russia, which removed Russia from the world financial system, and in collaboration with Saudi Arabia, kept the price of oil low. All in all, American hard-ball policy was designed to cause considerable economic hardship in Russia, with the aim being to topple President Putin.

However it all backfired.

True, the economic situation in Russia is not easy today because of the sanctions and low price of oil, but Russia has known hardship in the past. It survived Napoleon. It survived Hitler. It can survive American sanctions.

But not only survive. The people have rallied behind the Russian President, which is what usually happens when there is a threat from outside the nation. Today, most Russians see Putin as a national hero for taking Crimea and for supporting the Russian population in Eastern Ukraine. They view his action as one of regaining Russian pride, much of which was lost following the breakdown of the Soviet Union.

In reaction to the sanctions, the Russians are now making deals with China. They are drawing closer together. China announced airplane co-production with Russia, they are establishing a BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Bank to replace the western dominated IMF.  Furthermore, Russia is considering using China’s payment infrastructure instead of the SWIFT system for bank transactions. There is also talk of removing themselves from the dollar as the peg for international financial exchanges.

The end result is that the United States could be getting marginalized…at least as far as being the world’s dominant economic nation.

So two thirds of the American nightmare is already underway. All that needs to occur is for Germany to join the party.

Will it happen?

It is not probable, but it can happen. The Russian and German economies are deeply interdependent. The two traditionally had relationships throughout history except for the period of the Second World War. Actually, they formed an alliance shortly before the war began in 1939.

The Russian educational system is designed around the German system with lots of emphasis on the sciences. Germany is also closer geographically to Russia (both are part of Europe) than to the United States. With Russia as a partner, Germany will have a stronger voice in the world arena. Today, allied with America in global politics, Germany is the junior partner. Should Germany shift and become Russia’s ally, it would become an equal, if not a senior, partner.

America has tried, and continues to try, to push President Putin and Russia out of a competitive role in world politics. But Russian counter moves can move America out of its position of world leader.

Just observing and thinking.

Ichak Kalderon Adizes