USA rose to a central position in world economics and politics after second world war. USD became the key global currency. Sometime, about two and a half decades after the second world war, US President decided that the US need not follow any norms about the volume of currency that the USA can print. After that it was great going for US economy for about five decades. Major exports of the country became her currency because every country of the world needed Dollars to either finance international trade or to keep a buffer.
Soon the country lost its edge in almost everything except bullying based on either military strength or past glories. Except Dollars, the country continued to be known for exports of armaments and aircraft - but other countries are catching up on these soon enough. And there are almonds, pistachios, wheat and such other agricultural produce which are exported by the USA in huge quantities.
What does the country import? Oh, that is a long list. The world queues up to sell to the country everything from cut-roses to bananas to cars and computers. Surely, this leads to trade deficits. But this does not lead to devaluation of the USD because everyone needs Dollars to keep the wheels of world trade moving.
This is a huge and extremely complex rigmarole. It is easy to get lost in the details and forget the underlying foundation which is the central position of USA in world economics and politics.
Seems that a large number of US politicians and citizens believe that, happen what may, the world will continue to keep coming to their doors to deposit their surplus money and buy USD in form of some stupid paper or the other. Ironically, they want to enjoy the fruits of world dominance without shouldering any of the responsibilities that come with it. It is like a deep-rooted sense of entitlements. The common US citizen believes that he / she is entitled as a birth right to the good life that an average American has led for the past seven-eight decades.
In the past decades USA has encouraged a culture of selfishness, self-centered-ness and isolationist individualism at a personal level. As years have passed, this has become the national culture of USA not only at a personal level but also as a policy at the global level. USA's walking away from the Paris agreement is merely a reflection of the underlying psyche of the country as a whole.
USA wants to live comfortably and not be bothered by all the problems that everyone else seems to be having. USA wants to be left alone to enjoy the good life. All talk about principles, ethics and ideologies is boring for them.
That is all fine for someone who has no role in the world. However, the world is not willing to accept someone like that to be its leader or to even to grant him a central position at the table.
Loss of prestige of USA, her leaders, her companies and her citizens has begun at every forum of the world. I know even in business, not many want to deal with the arrogant, abrasive ways of Americans. Political leaders across the world see USA as unreliable and often stupid partner.
The change that has come about is slow and gradual. The present President of USA represents his country truly in all respects and that is not doing much good to the country. It does not help that the USA has not decisively won any war in the past five decades and that the country is willing to sleep with her sworn enemies as long as there is money on the table.
Essentially, the US is losing her central position in world economics and politics gradually but surely. Withdrawal from a multilateral treaty on the argument of furthering self-interest has given a big jolt to the country's prestige and reliability. It seems that downhill descent of the country will further accelerate with the decision.
As USA loses her central position and starts her fall, it is difficult to predict the speed or direction or end-point of the descent. But, it may not be wrong to say that the end of the USA era of history has truly began. I do not know whether we, the present generation, should consider our selves fortunate or unfortunate to be living through this turning of history. Guess that is immaterial for those of us who are not living in the USA. But for the citizens of USA, it is not going to be immaterial. High time that they learnt to adapt to changes including the ones that are painful.
4 June 2017
Please write to me your comments about the above article.
ANIL CHAWLA is an engineer and a lawyer by qualification but a philosopher by vocation and a legal and management consultant by profession.
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