No, Obama Hasn’t Let Go of Global Hegemony


Over at The Dish, Andrew Sullivan notes the difference in opinion between the elites and the general public on foreign policy. Elites in New York and Washington, DC are upset that Obama hasn’t been forceful enough, whereas the public, as I noted yesterday, in greater numbers than ever want a less interventionist foreign policy of restraint.

Sullivan, however, thinks Obama has hit the right balance, while ultimately siding with the public on this one.

My view is that Obama has done about as good a job as possible in managing the core task of his presidency: letting self-defeating global hegemony go. That required a balancing act – of intervention where absolutely necessary and caution elsewhere. He prevented the world economy tipping into a second Great Depression, has maintained overwhelming military superiority and shored up Asian alliances even as he concedes, as we should, that China will be the dominant power in the region in the 21st Century.

The argument that Obama’s reluctance to bomb Syria illegally or put troops in western Ukraine denotes “letting self-defeating global hegemony go,” is unpersuasive. For Sullivan to be right, he would have to explain how the Libya intervention was “absolutely necessary” or how disregarding international law and national sovereignty by implementing a limitless and secret drone bombing campaign indicates caution.

The bigger point, though, is this notion that Obama as “concede[d]…that China will be the dominant power in the [Asia Pacific] region in the 21st Century.” That is difficult to square with Obama’s actual policies in the Asia Pacific.

Global hegemony, in the parlance of the Pentagon and international relations theorists, refers to a foreign policy that maintains absolute dominance in our own western hemisphere, while preventing the rise of any “peer competitors” that would be able to achieve similar status in their own spheres. If anything is clear about Obama’s “Asia pivot,” it’s that Washington is trying to thwart China’s plans to enforce its own kind of Monroe Doctrine in the Asia Pacific and prevent China from achieving regional hegemony like us.

Consider what it looks like from China’s perspective. The United States military maintains the greatest naval presence in the entire Asia Pacific, with the Third and Seventh Fleet patrolling the South China Sea and surrounding waters with five massive aircraft carrier strike groups. The U.S. military occupies Japan, less than 500 miles off the Chinese coast, with 50,000 troops. Almost 30,000 occupy South Korea, which is separated from China only by the slender North Korea. Washington keeps thousands of troops and major air and naval bases in Guam. The Pentagon has close military-to-military relationships with all of China’s neighboring rivals, including the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand, among others.

Obama just returned from a trip to South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Malaysia to reassure all those allies that America will go to war against China in case such a conflict breaks out. He was also trying to secure a major “free trade” deal that, conspicuously, does not include China, the region’s biggest economic powerhouse. A Shanghai-based professor, unsurprisingly, argued Obama’s trip “only made China angrier and inflamed regional tensions.”

In short, Obama is trying to block China’s rise to be “the dominant power in the region in the 21st Century,” by containing Beijing both militarily and economically. I don’t see how this indicates resignation or “letting…global hegemony go.” If you look at the world’s other strategically vital regions – Europe, the Middle East, etc. – I think you’ll find similar results. America is not retreating. At least not yet.

Sullivan is right about one thing, though: the quest for global hegemony is self-defeating.

19 thoughts on “No, Obama Hasn’t Let Go of Global Hegemony”

  1. If Sisi is one of the most famous Obama dictatorz, justice dept is one of the most $donerz,farma bills is one of the most hero'in and Banderz Goldbriberies is only way to bail out Gov's then UE NOW has an Holy Ajendaa:TIME to remove AlSabah from my first Islamic Emara

  2. China now owns a record $1.317 trillion of US government debt…..think Obama will impose sanctions if the relationship turn sour?

  3. No, Sullivan has never been right about anything, but he is a legend in his own mind.

  4. Throughout the USG history only the starters of US constitutions were not a hegemonist, although that could have been changed in 2014. USA radicals or otherwise president, democrats or republicans always presented their agendas for one and one reason only, to keep capitalism and its economic supremacy as their tool to govern the world, in retarn, capitalism have provided USG with all kind of militarism product providing the government with needed technology and manpower to achieve their goals.

    In reality, Obama is no empire but he do support imperialism-capitalism which by now the concept of capitalism has changed to vulture capitalism. The empire is dead, the only thing is left of him is his militarism and those in state department, or other places dictating to state department, that are in business planing wars for the same reason, to keep the vulture capitalism in power where for USG is to govern the world.

    This is 2014, the world has intered the world if technology and modernized, the only thing that is not changed is the capitalism culture. Now the very same vaulter-ism culture have turned to democrats-falsified democracy asking for helping its system, for Neo version of democrats, having no other alternative, democrats have started cooperating with what is out there, in Libya war, which was orchestrated by Hillary Clinton,it was the Qatari, Saudis and CCG terrorism-jihadist, in Syria is the same elements from Saudi Arabia, the very good friends of USG, with more of savegry performance, in Ukraine is Neo fascism' and in Pacific Ocean is about US militarism looking to occupy yet another nation land.

    By Victoria Nuland admitting that state department have spend $5billions of working man and women, Americans tax payers money to promote Neo fascism in Ukraine, this or that Neo fascism culturly are supporters of other Europeans and otherwise vulture capitalism, they don't give a damn about who providing them with support, what they want is to be able to govern Ukraine by being "full in debt" to IMF and for IMF to own Ukraine. That's the nature of vulture capitalism and Victoria Nuland or Brown or Hillary Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama knows that. Otherwise, federal government periority is about serving the very same system that provides for federal government the opportunity's to have a war here and or there, for a possible chance to govern the world.

  5. The USA only believes in hegemony if it has it and no one else does. The Asian & Pacific nations should spend more of their own money on their military and shut down US bases. Australia has a US-Israeli puppet government.

  6. No, neocons have not let go of world domination. The problem is, American people are slow learners. And every time these people cook up ANOTHER conflict, they manage to have people riled up all over again. Now, they are working hard to prop up another, big time enemy. Hope word "Russia" will work, so lies, lies, and lies — full court press with lies, and think it is a formula for success. With many idiots it works like a charm. I am afraid this time is different. The mountain of debt that is created by shale gas exploration is coming due. The mountain of debt is created because the miracle technology is not profitable, and it takes three drill-sites to pay off the first. The gas volume reduced in a less then year to 10% of initial yield, so the debt for old drills is payed off with new. It is a pyramid, and is coming to the breaking point. Enter EU. Russia is not good for you, you are in danger — buy our technology and drill for your own liberating shale! Poland and Ukraine look stupid enough to want to do it. But — who will pay? Of course, EU. As EU knows the profitability disaster that is fracking — it is not going to give garantees for those loans, or they may cave in to the blackmail just a wee bit.. But a little is not enough for US. In order to repay the mouting debt, large sales of shale exploration equipment and contract for operations are needed. Europe has no money, Asia does not need it — who is then left to bail out the industry? So, if EU does not cough up upward of a trillion dollars in tehnology guarantees, the industry will crash, and will require a bailout. But the Europe is in a pinch. If they do not ponny up, we will push Kyev to further abuse population, to hit them so hard and merciless, to insure Russia invades. Then, it will be again — Europe pay up, this time for shale AND for military as you are all "not safe". Now EU, that is Brussels are our kids, and they will do it — but individual countries do not care to spend money. If everything else fails, when our economy tanks again, it will be due to further tensions in the world, so people will forget economic hardships, and feed themselves with "patriotism".

  7. "No, Obama Hasn’t Let Go of Global Hegemony"

    Nope. And he's not going to. You want big government this is what you'll get.

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