Since the end of the WWII, the United States of America have played a role in the world of geo-politics which should be at least consired essencial. Not only did the USA fight the so called Cold War against the USSR, but they also found solutions to many unsolved matters in Eastern Europe, mainly to the Kosovian issue. The North American role, however, can no longer be considered as crutial as it used to be and some would even dare saying that America has lost its trace on politics. After all, what is the true role the USA are playing nowadays?
The Berlin Wall materialized a division line in the middle of Europe for no less than three decades, separating two antagonic blocks: USA’s and Russia’s. Not until the Berlin Wall fell did both countries stop fighting fiercely for influence and control over Europe and Asia. The Fall of the Berlin Wall, therefore, marks the end of the Cold War era, followed also by the self-destruction of the USSR only two years later, in 1991.
Throughout the Cold War a peculiar international system was shaped whose main aspects revolved around two spheres of power. The USA and the USSR would set up a conflict of economic systems, political institutions, ideology, advertising and even military equipment. Somehow the world could still count on a cooperation between the two hegemons: both of them did respect each others’ area of influence. As it can be argued, the USSR and the USA have become “enemy-brothers” fighting each other.
The balance of power during the Cold War was kept due to unbelievable advances in mass-destruction weaponry. These weapons were not meant to prepare a final battle, but to avoid it. In an age in which having more and more nuclear warheads could only account for mutual destruction – with absolutely no chances of victory for neither side – the accumulation of nuclear arsenal became an autonomous policy. In layman’s terms: mass-destruction weaponry didn’t alter the balance existing between the USA and the USSR, it was created only as a mean of maintenance of power. Since then, and upto today, military strenght became a synonym for world domination.
However, the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR have made the North American foreign policy pointless. There is no need to enlarge their nuclear arsenal once there is no more visible opponent nor threat. Being the only world hegemon has given unimesurable power to the USA, but it has also forced them to immediately find a new trace for their affairs. Since then, Washington has been trying to spread its influence throughout the world; sometimes suceeding, others, failing. Kosovo is the best example in which the USA were able to enforce their strategic lead. The wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, ended only after OTAN’s interference and the signing of the Daytons Accords, have once again strenghthened Washington’s key-role in the United Nations Security Council.
On September 11th 2001, the North American population was traumatized after the terrorist attacks which destroyed the two towers of the WTC (World Trade Center) in New York City. Never since their Independence War had the United States been attacked in their own territory. This latest strike commanded by Osame Bin Laden, leader of Al-Qaeda, has paved roads for a declaration of “war agaisnt terror” – as Mr Bush himself stated.
Ever since 09/11/01, the USA have been pursing terrorists groups over the edge of the world, obtaining in exchange nothing more than the world’s dislike. In other words, the USA have tried to impose themselves as a world leader through military pressure against the Axis of Evil (yet another laughable concept invented by Mr Bush as an excuse for raiding on any country he finds “potentially dangerous to the USA“). The USA are immersed into a barbaric policy of military strenght, while the world shows that economical power is what trully matters.
What is most likely to happen (if it is not happening yet) is that the USA will have to cope with the economical development of countries such as Germany, Japan and England. The EU has limitless influence over the world and the USA cannot simply close their eyes to it. The world will certainly be based on a brand new structure: the unimultipolar society. The USA will still have their power as world hegemon (constituting the UNI-polar system), while the other countries will also enlarge their influence as well (MULTI-polar system).
This new world setting is completely unavoidable, as says Samuel Huntington. Balance will be found, whether at the terms of the Pax Americana or at the terms of the power of money. Which one is more likely to happen? None can say. What we can ascertain is that none of them can be ignored, for if one fails, all fail.
Rodrigo Machado Fonseca