Al Jazeera just posted an opinion piece on the rise of regional cooperative powers as American global influence diminishes. This is a great piece, and it is very illuminating on on how current political structures are changing.
First off, I am more than happy to see the US take a back seat in at least some of global politics. I do not see it as America’s job to be the global policeman; it is about time that other countries stepped up to control their own destinies and regions. The US just doesn’t have the capability, militarily, economically, or politically, to have global dominance. What we see as American preeminence in the world I see as a delusion. In the Cold War, the world was split in two, a nation HAD to choose America or the USSR. With the collapse of Soviet power, countries are no longer forced into that position. A small nation may now look to regional powers or to forming alliance with its neighbors to succeed. As the article states, the European Union is case in point. Europe had been fractured and warring with itself for centuries dating all the way back to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. However, now nations like England and France and Germany are working together politically, economically, and sometimes militarily to strengthen the region. And the EU has succeeded in becoming the most powerful economy on the planet through these efforts.
The question is, can other parts of the world unite like this? It may be noted that the unique circumstances of the Cold War is what laid the groundwork for the unification of Europe. Are other regions of the world capable of a similar feat? I think yes. The African Union, though usually pretty ineffective, has taken regional steps to promote stability. They have sent peacekeepers into Darfur and other problematic regions of Africa, and I think that is a good start. The Middle East, too, is very capable of forming a regional union. Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in WWI and the death of the last Caliph, the Arab world has yearned to be united under a strong political structure like it once had. I can easily see two to three major powers springing up in the Middle East; Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States as well as Egypt as one, Turkey and former Soviet republics as another, and Iran and the surrounding nations in the East in the third. This is not to say that a stronger, larger regional power could develop, say the Arab Union (I know Iranians and Turks aren’t Arabs, just ignore the language issue). Although such a political union would take the demise of radical, sectarian governments such as Iran.
For those who disagree that the diminishment of American power is a good thing, I ask why not? Why is it America’s role to police the world? I do not believe it is our country’s duty to force its own political goals and beliefs on a foreign government who pose no direct threat to our nation. This means Iraq as well as Libya. Neither of these countries could hurt us in any way. Afghanistan is a more complicated issue but I think we have lost our justification to be there with the death of bin Laden. We need to focus on domestic concerns such as economy and immigration, among others.