By Obi Ebuka Onochie
When President Obama visited the Philippines in April, he was asked whether his handling of crises from Ukraine to Syria might have emboldened America’s enemies, his answer further cast doubt in the direction of our present day Globocop. He said “my tactics may not always be sexy but have strengthened America’s global position”. This retort clearly put America’s world political standing in an ambiguity at the time the world especially American allies need strong minded decisions taken with finality.
America’s easygoing handling of Iranian uranium enrichment, North Korea’s missile test provocations, their inability to stop Iraq from relapsing into domestic conflict, their failure to getting Hamid Kazai the Afghan leader to allow some few thousand non-combatant soldiers to stay back after their troops withdrawal and American silence when China seized the Scarborough shoal from Philippines in 2012 seem to point to the recession of American power and influence especially in the eyes of their allies and foes alike. Baltic states are desperately looking for America’s security umbrella for coverage as threat from Russia is growing by the day but it appears that the security umbrella has developed holes. In the eyes of many analysts, the Globocop is looking more like a talk show presenter as Obama does more of talking than acting which has energized the dwindling confidence of rouge nations that former president Bush depleted.
Former soviet states are jittering at the incipient way Russia is inciting their minority Russiophone population who are pro-Russia and have gone as far as making Russian passports available for them. From Tokyo to Seoul, Manila to Kuala Lumpur and from Taiwan to Singapore leaders are all fidgeting at Chinese economic and military growth and their growing boldness in stretching their muscle. In deterrence to North Korean irrational and immature regime, America stationed 28,000 marines near the border of two Korean brothers. Under current arrangement, South Korean troops will come under American operational control if there were a war while South Korea retains peace time control of its forces. The arrangement will be due for change in December 2015 when South Korea will be in control of its forces in case of war but with the present threats coming from both China and North Korea, they may favour the arrangement extension.
Japan and Philippines feel most threatened by China. Both are in direct confrontation with an increasingly pushy China over disputed islands and shoals in the East China sea and South China sea respectively. China’s huge hunger and appetite toward maritime boundary extension in its neighbourhood filled with American allies is seen as one that will sooner or later bring America in a direct confrontation with China if not militarily. The Island Japan is disputing with China is uninhabited and full of rocks which seen by many Japanese as more reason America will not favour a military confrontation with China over the Island many American voters back home see as rocky dead Island.
As American allies bewail their perceived abandonment, the perception of American growing timidity has spurred its allies to explore the option of defending themselves. Israel has increased its military and economic ties with China and India, gulf states are arming themselves with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE have all recently ordered mammoth and sophisticated arsenals. Japan recently abandoned their pacifist policy and legislatively granted themselves right to arm and defend themselves. All these are reactionary measures to perceived American growing apathy to spreading its security umbrella.
However, some do not share in the view of America’s growing weakness but believe that American current tactics under Obama may not appeal to its allies but will in time, prove to be more effective. NATO founding treaty believes that an armed attack on any member is considered an attack on all. ToomasHendrickIlves, the president of Estonia was quoted recently to have said, “I do believe that the boarders of NATO are a red line. If any NATO ally tried to block a response to an armed attack, NATO would in effect, cease to exist”. Kurt Volker, former president Bush’s last NATO ambassador and President Obama’s first believes that “despite Mr. Obama’s distrust of military force, he would still act if there were a loud enough domestic outcry”. “An outright invasion of a NATO ally would trigger such an outcry”. These arguments would seem right if Russia would go for outright invasion but they are not, instead are operating subtly through Russiophone population citizens of Baltic states.
In all the hullabaloos over perceived American military decline, the hawks of war know that America remains world’s number one militarily. Some believe that America is farther from the rest of the world militarily than economically. In this year’s 2014 budget of United States falling spending on military, it allocated $600 billion to pentagon which still remains the biggest in the world.
American allies are increasing their military spending while China and Russia combined spend less than half of what America does.
Chinese generals believe that American military kit is better than theirs and American marines have advanced experience of using them. They also believe that they cannot match current American military hard power until 2050 at the earliest.
There is no where the perceived decline of Globocop more rife and celebrated than in the middle east. Bashar Assad with the help of Iran and Russia is slaughtering his people, ISIS the new and brutal terror organization raging like wild fire, China bullying its neighbours and Russia in land grab scrimmage and terrorism is creeping down the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Some are celebrating and some are wishing for the decline of America. But whoever they are and wherever they live, they should know that whatever or whoever that replaces American order will be much worse. American power is not half as terrifying as its absence would be.
Obi Ebuka Onochie via firstname.lastname@example.org