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IPFS News Link • Economy - International

Signs Of America's Declining Power & The Emerging Multipolar World

•, by Christopher Roach

During Bush's years as president, Democrats frequently criticized his foreign policy, complaining that he acted like a cowboy, pursuing wars unilaterally without the imprimatur of the "international community." Internationalism was a particular obsession of 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, who lambasted the Bush administration for snubbing the United Nations and upsetting France with its Iraq policy.

Obama was mostly a darling of foreign leaders, as he ceded American power and prestige in a bid to right what he considered the historic wrongs of colonialism and western chauvinism. This was evident in his obsession with completing the Iran deal, participating in the Kyoto accords, assisting NATO attacks on Libya and Syria, and in the general tone of public diplomacy during the Arab Spring.

That said, America made quite a few interventions in the Obama years, especially in the second term, and we largely called the shots.

A Fake "International Community"

For all the talk of the international community, it was mostly a fig leaf for American unilateralism no matter which party was in charge. This practice extended from the Clinton presidency through Obama's. When the United Nations would not approve something, we went to NATO. And when NATO wouldn't get involved, we acted unilaterally, as in the early attacks on Syria or the targeted killing policy employed against al Qaeda

This is another way of saying that the United States acted as the sole superpower since the end of the Cold War, and this prevailed regardless of the party in power. There were some arguments on the margins, but every administration embraced this prerogative to impose the American vision of a "rules-based international order." Even Trump, who ran on an America First platform, supported American unilateralism in Syria and expanded the provision of lethal aid to Ukraine.