The US at a tipping point.
For the first time in more than 300 years the next super power may well not be a western democracy. China, the new challenger, is faced with major problems at home. But it knows only too well that no government is more at risk than when it seeks to change. So it cannot afford to adopt a liberal western stance. It will not ingratiate itself in this way and, by its own lights, it should not. Its monumental history underpins its resolve to recreate the unified China of the past centuries and to reject the chaotic schisms forced upon it by the UK, France and the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Never again will it tolerate what it saw as the devious aggression of the Boxer, Opium and ultimately Japan wars. Furthermore whatever its own homeland challenges, it knows it has no need to submit to these tired nations.
China’s economy is strengthening, its leadership has a relative clarity of purpose. The leadership in the West is in disarray.
Europe is confronting the possibility of collapse. Poverty, a lack of investment, disease and its own political overreaching have created a rabble amongst its membership where there should have been a ready, robust and coherent leadership of what should have become a new and powerful democratic bloc. Europe poses no threat.
We are meanwhile acting as though we were a minor and poorly led wannabe dictatorship. We have had the opportunity to strengthen global institutions, to sharpen global attitudes, and to provide a vivid model of western liberalism in action. But we have walked away from this. No longer a cosmopolitan and welcoming nation of builders, we have reveled in the bluster of destruction. Our recent actions constitute a catalogue of missed opportunities – rejecting the UN, walking out of the WHO, negating the Paris Accord, dismissing NATO, threatening our European allies, doubling down on Iran and denying Climate Change. All the while wasting time flirting with the demented world of QAnon, parading the reactionary born again obsessions of the Administration and courting the favors of the worst dictators and bad actors.
We are in a mess. and the results are coming home to roost. The latest Social Progress Index makes depressing reading. Overall we have slipped to 28th behind Estonia, the Czech republic, Cyprus and Greece. We are 91st in basic education, 97th in access to health care and rank a shameful 100th in discrimination against minorities. We have no plans to deal with this any time soon.
Against such a background of failure the President continues to berate China at the UN. We continue to conduct a series of destructive stop start trade wars – because “they are easy” and we flout the spirit of the laws that really did once make this nation great.
We are at a tipping point. Declining in performance and refusing to take up the terrible responsibilities of global leadership, it is we who are in danger of losing credibility and of losing our way – far from being the world’s super power we are looking more and more like lone of the bad actors.