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Is the US the 'leader of the free world'?

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  • 05-10-2020 1:45pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 28,322 ✭✭✭✭


    This continues to be claimed on US news programmes - reference to the US as the leader of the free world, claims of influence on the world stage, descriptions of Trump as 'the most powerful man on earth'.

    Is it all true any more outside of US opinion?

    Trump's position as leader of the US may, arguably, make him the most powerful man on earth, but what does that mean? Is he the most influential? Does he garner the most respect from other countries, regardless of what (some of) the citizens of the US might think. Or has he forfeited it with his bumbling, thoughtless, arrogant approach to his position?

    Does having the biggest army count for anything?

    Does he have the official, diplomatic respect of other leaders? Granted there has been Covid, but the once regular international interaction at head of state level seems to have pretty much disappeared.

    Is it possible for the inward looking, self-centred, power and wealth worshipping Republican party to interact with other western leaders - do they even want to? If they pull down the shutters can they still claim influence and authority with the rest of the world?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,749 ✭✭✭✭Inquitus


    I don't believe they are the leaders of the free world anymore, Trump has been fairly isolationist pulling them out of the WHO, castigating the UN, and reducing the US presence of NATO troops in Europe while also being dismissive of the Organisation.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,038 ✭✭✭Brussels Sprout


    Certainly not since Trump has been elected. Nobody is turning to their government for guidance or help. Perhaps when a new administration takes charge they can regain their place but it seems like Trump just accelerated something that was happening more gradually anyway.


  • Registered Users Posts: 20,036 ✭✭✭✭cnocbui


    No.

    Abandoning the WTO and actively undermining it, calling for reduced funding of the WHO at the height of the worst pandemic in 100 years, pulling back from NATO...

    Make that hell no.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,184 ✭✭✭riclad


    The usa has lost respect, trump is racist ,he spreads conspiracy theorys ,theres the trade war with china,usa is now in debt for trillions of dollars.
    theres 2 superpowers in terms of weapons and armed forces ,america
    and china.The usa has handled the covid crisis badly.
    they cannot even provide basic equipment ,masks and gowns to their doctors and medical workers .
    In terms of the internet the government want to pass laws that attack section 230
    and the ability of websites to provide encryption of user data .
    their health system is a disaster .you only have medical insurance if you are rich or else get it from your employer .
    Does having a big army count much, when american companys and government services are being hacked every week.
    America is mediocre in terms of providing fas t broadband to most users ,
    millions of american citizens have no acess to broadband
    due to lack of competition for telecom providers .
    The american government stopped funding who and the official policy is climate change does not exist .


  • Registered Users Posts: 16,668 ✭✭✭✭banie01


    A hundred years from now will judge the 21st century version of the great game as basically being a narrative on the collapse of US hegemony.

    A political system based on 2 parties and individual success and "personal" responsibility at its core, makes for an incredibly flawed social contract.
    That anything with a whiff of collective good is viewed by many as communism is absurd.

    When Trump was elected and started his rambling destruction of democratic pillars, I was reminded of a 2000a.d comic, about Bad Bob Booth, the last US president before the Judges took over...

    For 40yrs the Dredd writers have been ahead of the curve in their satirical observation.

    The US is in a terminal decline that every great empire and civilization through history has faced and none have really overcome.
    The only "successful" decline from hegemony IMO has been Britain, and it hasn't really gone great for them has it.

    The future of the western Anglosphere should IMO be looked at as a decline, what can offset that decline?
    Is a question I really have no inkling of an answer for that doesn't involve a seismic shift in geopolitics.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 28,322 ✭✭✭✭looksee


    And yet 'Global stocks rise after Trump's doctor said he could leave hospital'...
    Hong Kong (CNN Business) - US President Donald Trump is trying to convince the world that his Covid-19 diagnosis is not a big deal after all. That strategy might be working on investors, for now.

    Global markets and US stock futures are rising after Trump's physicians said that the president could be discharged from Walter Reed National Medical Center as early as Monday. A quick recovery could ease some of the huge uncertainty surrounding the US election with just four weeks left in the campaign.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/05/investing/global-stocks/index.html

    The article quotes international markets, but it does also suggest that the rise could be coincidental (even though there was a corresponding fall when he got sick). Is it again the US overestimating their influence?


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 18,283 CMod ✭✭✭✭Nody


    looksee wrote: »
    This continues to be claimed on US news programmes - reference to the US as the leader of the free world, claims of influence on the world stage, descriptions of Trump as 'the most powerful man on earth'.
    Well seeing as the main competitions would be Russia and China he'd be the leader of the free world in that sense of a democratic elected leader (EU is to weak). But that's big fish, small barrel, kind of setup.
    Trump's position as leader of the US may, arguably, make him the most powerful man on earth, but what does that mean? Is he the most influential? Does he garner the most respect from other countries, regardless of what (some of) the citizens of the US might think. Or has he forfeited it with his bumbling, thoughtless, arrogant approach to his position?
    I'd put the Chinese leader ahead of him to be honest; China has so many countries by the balls and are the source of propping them up (inc. USA).
    Does having the biggest army count for anything?
    Russia can blow up the world a couple of hundred times over with nukes as well and are more actively engaged with their army in relevant fights. Having a big stick only matters if you actually got something you want to enforce with it, Trump simply wants big missiles as basically dick waving material of having the biggest bomb.
    Does he have the official, diplomatic respect of other leaders? Granted there has been Covid, but the once regular international interaction at head of state level seems to have pretty much disappeared.
    Definitely not; I'd argue probably EU or Japan here as the most likely candidates.
    Is it possible for the inward looking, self-centred, power and wealth worshipping Republican party to interact with other western leaders - do they even want to? If they pull down the shutters can they still claim influence and authority with the rest of the world?
    I'd argue the republicans want to; Trump don't. There's a big difference there; the Republicans want it simply because of the power it gives them to turn the world into what they want (more profits for their donating companies, selling more weapons etc.).


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,826 ✭✭✭Truthvader


    Sadly, Trump 'n' all, yes. Who else is there?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,541 ✭✭✭lawrencesummers


    How is this even up for debate?



    https://youtu.be/bIpKfw17-yY


  • Registered Users Posts: 20,036 ✭✭✭✭cnocbui


    Truthvader wrote: »
    Sadly, Trump 'n' all, yes. Who else is there?

    New Zealand.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,826 ✭✭✭Truthvader


    cnocbui wrote: »
    New Zealand.

    Nice place, great people, wise government but when the sh1t hits the fan no-one calls New Zealand


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,202 ✭✭✭Tazz T


    America is like a soap drama. It takes a dysfunctional society to vote into power a reality TV star with NPD like Trump. And as other have said he has taken the US down a isolationist and dare I say 'rogue nation' route putting out of international accords and threatening allies with sanctions if they don't tow the line with unilateral US policy.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 18,283 CMod ✭✭✭✭Nody


    Truthvader wrote: »
    Nice place, great people, wise government but when the sh1t hits the fan no-one calls New Zealand
    And when they call the USA no one is answering; which is why the likes of South Korea are looking at getting nukes of their own now.


  • Registered Users Posts: 20,962 ✭✭✭✭Ash.J.Williams


    Truthvader wrote: »
    Nice place, great people, wise government but when the sh1t hits the fan no-one calls New Zealand

    that's it in a nutshell, whoever has the most arms is the leader


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,609 ✭✭✭stoneill


    The US is called the leader of the free world, usually by people who have never traveled outside the US


  • Registered Users Posts: 28,322 ✭✭✭✭looksee


    How is this even up for debate?



    https://youtu.be/bIpKfw17-yY

    Thank you I had not seen that before. The eulogy at the end however, the greatness that was - struck a rather unconvincing note given the recent discussions about equality of opportunity, BLM and the Confederate icons.

    I think the answer to the 'Freedom and freedom' cliche, what special freedom does the US have? summed up a lot of my feelings. If you want to feel you are the greatest, fine. But don't let your hubris trample on other's freedoms.

    It seems to be the attitude towards the flag, the military, conservatism and patriotism, at the expense of reflection and a more natural mix of confidence and humility is what has led to most of the issues they face today.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 16,288 Mod ✭✭✭✭Manic Moran


    I would say not in the same way as before, and not as much, but I think 'yes' simply due to the lack of any viable alternatives. There are still some advantages to being one of the biggest economies out there.

    You must distinguish between the Trump administration and the national capability. If we take it as a stipulation that nobody will follow Trump anywhere unless by coincidental goal, the nation itself is still highly influential. In terms of regulation, they are not further behind than the EU, if the US sets a regulation that "this must be the case to be sold here", then manufacturers worldwide are almost certain to comply. External decisions such as whether to impose sanctions like freezing assets are much easier and quicker due to only one government being involved. Let us presume that scientifically (chemistry, physics, medicine etc) it's more or less a wash. I'm not sure it is, I think more development is still happening in the US, but the EU is no slouch. And note how I keep having to say "EU", there isn't any one country in the EU which, on its own, can hold a candle to the US in these areas, and the EU is not always a unified body when it comes to external affairs.

    Militarily, it's not even close. The US is still the backbone of NATO. You don't see the Poles or Baltic States advocating for European militaries to be based in their countries, it's the US Army that they want (And in the Polish case, it's the US Army they're getting, at the expense of Germany). Even in their back yard, such as Libya, EU forces were reliant upon US support. Outside of the EU's area, again, it's not close. Taiwan is not looking to the EU for military backup against China and it's not EU or Indian troops within a few miles of the Korean DMZ. Similarly, when there's a tsunami in Japan or the Philippines, you can bet that there will be an American aircraft or helicopter carrier along in a day or two doing humanitarian work.

    There will be individual areas where other countries or organizations will be 'better' than the US. As mentioned, Japan has diplomatic respect and a sizeable economy. It also has a very sizeable military, but a local one only which also is reliant upon the US to face up to its primary challenge. No one country is as strong, on the average as it were, in as many different categories of power and influence as the US is, and I would think that in the post-Trump era, a lot of the US's deficiencies will be addressed. The common "Elements of National Power" are "DIME". Diplomatic, Informational, Military, Economic. Right now, only on "Diplomatic" is the US lacking, but it's not as if US diplomacy is entirely ineffective either. Informational, no contest. What's the headline on the BBC website right now? When you watch TV or Netflix, what's the chances that you're looking at an American product? Military, already covered. Economic, also obvious.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,405 ✭✭✭gizmo


    looksee wrote: »
    Thank you I had not seen that before. The eulogy at the end however, the greatness that was - struck a rather unconvincing note given the recent discussions about equality of opportunity, BLM and the Confederate icons.

    I think the answer to the 'Freedom and freedom' cliche, what special freedom does the US have? summed up a lot of my feelings. If you want to feel you are the greatest, fine. But don't let your hubris trample on other's freedoms.

    It seems to be the attitude towards the flag, the military, conservatism and patriotism, at the expense of reflection and a more natural mix of confidence and humility is what has led to most of the issues they face today.
    A lot of weight is often put behind the freedoms granted by the First Amendment when discussing this topic and yet when various organisations, such as Freedom House, compile their indices, the US can often feature lower than their democratic peers for a variety of reasons.

    Also, since you're digesting new found monologues, this one from the same show may be relevant in addressing your last point, at least in so far as international reaction to Republican actions domestically.


  • Registered Users Posts: 28,322 ✭✭✭✭looksee


    I would say not in the same way as before, and not as much, but I think 'yes' simply due to the lack of any viable alternatives. There are still some advantages to being one of the biggest economies out there.

    You must distinguish between the Trump administration and the national capability. If we take it as a stipulation that nobody will follow Trump anywhere unless by coincidental goal, the nation itself is still highly influential. In terms of regulation, they are not further behind than the EU, if the US sets a regulation that "this must be the case to be sold here", then manufacturers worldwide are almost certain to comply. External decisions such as whether to impose sanctions like freezing assets are much easier and quicker due to only one government being involved. Let us presume that scientifically (chemistry, physics, medicine etc) it's more or less a wash. I'm not sure it is, I think more development is still happening in the US, but the EU is no slouch. And note how I keep having to say "EU", there isn't any one country in the EU which, on its own, can hold a candle to the US in these areas, and the EU is not always a unified body when it comes to external affairs.

    Militarily, it's not even close. The US is still the backbone of NATO. You don't see the Poles or Baltic States advocating for European militaries to be based in their countries, it's the US Army that they want (And in the Polish case, it's the US Army they're getting, at the expense of Germany). Even in their back yard, such as Libya, EU forces were reliant upon US support. Outside of the EU's area, again, it's not close. Taiwan is not looking to the EU for military backup against China and it's not EU or Indian troops within a few miles of the Korean DMZ. Similarly, when there's a tsunami in Japan or the Philippines, you can bet that there will be an American aircraft or helicopter carrier along in a day or two doing humanitarian work.

    There will be individual areas where other countries or organizations will be 'better' than the US. As mentioned, Japan has diplomatic respect and a sizeable economy. It also has a very sizeable military, but a local one only which also is reliant upon the US to face up to its primary challenge. No one country is as strong, on the average as it were, in as many different categories of power and influence as the US is, and I would think that in the post-Trump era, a lot of the US's deficiencies will be addressed. The common "Elements of National Power" are "DIME". Diplomatic, Informational, Military, Economic. Right now, only on "Diplomatic" is the US lacking, but it's not as if US diplomacy is entirely ineffective either. Informational, no contest. What's the headline on the BBC website right now? When you watch TV or Netflix, what's the chances that you're looking at an American product? Military, already covered. Economic, also obvious.

    I respect your arguments and on the whole I can see where you are coming from. I would take issue with your first sentence though
    but I think 'yes' simply due to the lack of any viable alternatives.

    Why do there have to be alternatives. Why not accept equality?

    The structure of the US may bring more to the table than disparate countries can individually, but in the end all that weight can be wielded by one very flawed person, is that healthy for either the millions in the US, or the rest of the world?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,541 ✭✭✭lawrencesummers


    looksee wrote: »
    Thank you I had not seen that before. The eulogy at the end however, the greatness that was - struck a rather unconvincing note given the recent discussions about equality of opportunity, BLM and the Confederate icons.

    I think the answer to the 'Freedom and freedom' cliche, what special freedom does the US have? summed up a lot of my feelings. If you want to feel you are the greatest, fine. But don't let your hubris trample on other's freedoms.

    It seems to be the attitude towards the flag, the military, conservatism and patriotism, at the expense of reflection and a more natural mix of confidence and humility is what has led to most of the issues they face today.

    It’s a great show, sometimes it’s important to remember that it’s a work of fiction, but based on real life events.

    Americans ‘Freedom’ is the same as Britain’s ‘greatness’ or north Korea’s belief in an almighty ruler . It’s contrived, the subject of continuous propaganda (Albeit different forms of propaganda) and people not only buy into it but sell it to their fellow citizens as well.

    There is plenty great about America, but none of it is man made if you ask me.


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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 38,307 CMod ✭✭✭✭ancapailldorcha


    looksee wrote: »
    Why do there have to be alternatives. Why not accept equality?

    The structure of the US may bring more to the table than disparate countries can individually, but in the end all that weight can be wielded by one very flawed person, is that healthy for either the millions in the US, or the rest of the world?

    Because the world is not equal. Some countries are more powerful than others and those more powerful countries have influence that the others do not as a result.

    The US president is deeply flawed, to put it mildly. However, they do have a system of checks and balances which were designed to hold such an individual in check. Again, that's a system which is also deeply flawed with elements prone to being captured but I can't imagine that all of the barriers on unchecked presidential power have been nullified.

    We sat again for an hour and a half discussing maps and figures and always getting back to that most damnable creation of the perverted ingenuity of man - the County of Tyrone.

    H. H. Asquith



  • Registered Users Posts: 16,668 ✭✭✭✭banie01


    looksee wrote: »
    I respect your arguments and on the whole I can see where you are coming from. I would take issue with your first sentence though


    Why do there have to be alternatives. Why not accept equality?

    The structure of the US may bring more to the table than disparate countries can individually, but in the end all that weight can be wielded by one very flawed person, is that healthy for either the millions in the US, or the rest of the world?

    Much like the British and the Dreadnought race, and Britain maintaining a force greater than the next 2 navies combined as a matter of prestige.
    The US's self image since 1945 is based primarily upon Teddy Roosevelt's mantra of speak softly but carry a big stick.

    The move away from "conventional" forces and superpower parity in the '90s has left the US military groping in he dark.
    They have spent 20yrs fight primarily co-in conflict and are now finding that a rapidly emerging near peer threat us emerging in China and re-emerging with the Russians.

    The Chinese investment in ballistic anti-ship missiles, fortifying the spratlys and throwing money across Eurasia and Africa is biting American basing and transit options.

    The Russians and by extension the Chinese and to a lesser extent the Indians are also developing hypersonic strike and new submarine and naval delivery systems.

    American cold war dominance was based upon appearing culturally superior, a place to aspire to along with being industrially and technologically dominant.

    None of those apply anymore, near peer conflict is a real possibility and industrial capacity is lower in the US than it has been in a generation.

    Owning the IP, isn't so great when the licensee is firing your own tech back at you.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 16,288 Mod ✭✭✭✭Manic Moran


    The Russians and by extension the Chinese and to a lesser extent the Indians are also developing hypersonic strike and new submarine and naval delivery systems.

    I don't think it's Russia which is the primary peer threat. The threat to Europe can be contained. It's China which is the big player, and the Chinese are a whole lot less dependent on Russian technology than they used to be. They are also far better at the diplomacy side, they have done far better in Africa than most countries.
    They also have some whopping industrial capacity to back up the technology. Their defense budget may be low in real/dollar terms, but given what you get for your won, it doesn't matter that the Chinese were able to spend 'only' $1bn on warships when that $1bn got them five modern destroyers and it wouldn't even get you one US destroyer. This is a fascinating article on the China/Japan naval balance, and as to how it's been dramatically altered almost without people noticing (Unless you're military). https://csbaonline.org/research/publications/dragon-against-the-sun-chinese-views-of-japanese-seapower

    It's not due to fancy new technologies like hypersonic missiles, it's due to massive Chinese production of 'conventional' modern equipment which is an order of magnitude better than the ancient, mid-cold-war stuff that they primarily used until a decade or two ago. I don't think the Chinese are in a position to outright threaten Japan or US's naval dominance in their areas, but they are strong enough to enforce the concept of possession being 9/10 of the law, given that nobody has had the apparent will to contest the creation of the South China Sea bases.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,586 ✭✭✭circular flexing


    Nody wrote: »
    in that sense of a democratic elected leader (EU is to weak). But that's big fish, small barrel, kind of setup.


    US elections can hardly be described as fully democratic anymore.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,826 ✭✭✭Truthvader


    Nody wrote: »
    And when they call the USA no one is answering; which is why the likes of South Korea are looking at getting nukes of their own now.

    Well to be fair when they did answer and went steaming into Afghanistan and Iraq no-one was happy either (and they were right).

    Trump for all his faults at least has not engaged in a stupid war - save keeping some bits of the ones he inherited ticking over.

    Tricky job being the leader of the Free World


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,657 ✭✭✭eire4


    The fact that American politicians, pundits and presenters on tv etc so often refer to their own country as "the leader of the free world" is classic US hubris. They call their own sports champions in baseball and American football World Champions. Utterly laughable. It would be like saying Dublin are the football World Champions instead of All Ireland football champions.

    Their electoral system is anything but democratic via the enormous power of the senate and the electoral college. Never mind the fact that the system is so utterly corrupted by money. Throw in openly gerrymandering districts, voter suppression etc. The US at this point IMHO is at best an oligarchy and dangerously one leaning towards being an authoritarian state.

    The US like it or not is still the most powerful national on earth but "leader of the free world" that is just pure American hubris and delusion.


  • Registered Users Posts: 963 ✭✭✭Hyperbollix


    No. The Trump admin's handling of the coronavirus, not to mention the WHO and climate agreement withdrawal mean they are now on the road to becoming an isolationist rogue state.

    We better hope that this imbecile will be out of office in January because if something genuinely game changing on a global scale crops up in the next four years, (even more devastating than this pandemic) then we are all in big trouble if "American leadership" is going to be required.

    We can all imagine that if Trump and his cronies had been in office in the early 1940's, instead of waging war on fascism, they would probably be it's servant.


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