Rebuilding US power with altruistic leadership: Taking on Islamic State, Russia, and Ebola
The United States came to dominate the world stage during the Post World War II and Cold War Era in a way never seen before as it became the first true superpower, because it was supported by a broad coalition of allies who believed in American leadership. Unlike the colonial powers and the Soviet Union, the United States was not solely motivated by the pursuit of its own immediate interests. Making the world safe for democracy, essentially, meant looking out for the needs and wants of all Americans as well as all the Peoples of the world.
Unfortunately, egocentric, selfish tendencies started to dominate American thinking. As Americans began to focus more and more on their own interests, US public and foreign policy also started to reflect the lack of altruistic motivation. Reaching its climax in the post-Iraq Invasion Era, the world became thoroughly disenfranchised with the US. From the Ebola Outbreak to the Ukraine Crisis to the threat of the Islamic State, American leadership is once again yielding results in terms of increased global cooperation and greater support for US foreign policy. Obviously, these and numerous other global issues will take time to be addressed, but the world is finally working toward major solutions.
As evidence of America’s renewed soft power, the George W. Bush Administration following the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks proclaimed the right to take preemptive military actions inside any country unable or unwilling to turn over terrorists. Instead of uniting the International Community in a “War on Terror,” world leaders grew increasingly afraid of American military might, which only intensified with the invasion of Iraq. Today, the Obama Administration has essentially made the same justification for bombing the Islamic State in Syria as he also successfully asked the International Community for greater support to curtail the Ebola Outbreak.
While the Assad regime is clearly in no shape to take on the Islamic State threat, much of the world no longer recognizes President Bashar Al-Assad to be the legitimate ruler of Syria, so the issue of the US and its partners violating Syria’s sovereignty is only being questioned by a handful of parties including Russia. A year or so ago, the efforts of the Kremlin to curtail American power would have been met with greater support. Even before the Ukraine Crisis, the West did not fully trust Russia, but both Russia and China have been seen as a means of balancing American dominance since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
A year ago, taking action against the Islamic State would have probably involved either the US being forced to cooperate with the Assad regime or Russia leading the efforts to fight the Islamic State in Syria. If not for the Syrian Civil War, the Assad regime would probably be playing host to a group like the Islamic State with Russia’s support. Today, Russia’s condemnation of unauthorized strikes in Syria means increased criticism of Russia for its efforts to delegitimize the US and the International Community in order to dominate the world stage.
Looking at President Obama’s offer to reverse sanctions against Russia, if it follows the “path of diplomacy and peace,” such an offer would translate into weakness under normal circumstances. Following the Ukraine Crisis and the resurgence of US leadership, Obama’s gesture only reinforces the notion that the US is on the right of history. Actions like Putin’s efforts to minimize the damage done by Ukraine Crisis to affluent cronies only undermines Putin’s position as it reveals his only motivation is self-interest at the expense of Russian taxpayers. In fact, this type of blatant corruption is eventually going to come to haunt Russian leadership as average Russians feel the burden of Putin’s follies, which is also a growing problem for the privileged Chinese leadership.
With governments like those in Moscow and Damascus acting counter to the will of the International Community, the United States is being given a chance to empower itself by taking reasonable/ easily justified steps against those who stand in the way of progress. Issues like a potential “no-fly” zone over Syria to protect civilians from the Assad regime, despite pledges that the Assad regime is not the target of US airstrikes, can actually strengthen, instead of weaken, US soft power. Moreover, global politics of the day point to a world unifying to address serious threats to international stability, including countries that are looking to divide the world to indulge selfish motivations. In other words, ‘you’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.’
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