America is yet to acknowledge that it has lost control of world affairs

President Joe Biden welcomes Narendra Modi at the White House in Washington. [BBC]

From July 4, 1776, the United States has gone through high moments of exhilaration and low points of despair. Being inherently anti-democratic, it contradicts its attractive ideals by engaging in domestic and global atrocities. Thomas Jefferson, the brilliant wordsmith of the Declaration of Independence who symbolised the coexistence of freedom for elite white men and slavery for Africans, had no problems helping his female slaves to increase population.

He was not alone in that contradiction. The drafters of the 1787 constitutional structure, being inherently hostile to ‘democracy’, designed a republican form of government that rejected the idea of ordinary people participating in governance. The same anti-democratic logic applied when the US crafted the United Nations Security Council to be a club of big powers protecting their individual interests against global ‘democracy’ at the General Assembly.  

Despite having brilliant people in policymaking positions, the US displays lack of common sense in domestic and world affairs partly because of its inbuilt racist and elitist disdain for others. Subsequently, ‘democracy’ entered America reluctantly and incrementally, expanded for white men in the 1830s, only for the corrosive effect of slavery to lead to the Civil War. The tumultuous ‘reconstruction’ period witnessed the rise of the Jim Crow system that returned blacks to slavery through segregation, justified in Social Darwinism. Racism/segregation embarrassed the US during and after the Cold War as it tried to convince other countries that it was the natural leader of the world.

In the post-Cold War period, the US internationally and domestically confused what Gaddis termed brawn with brain. It deluded itself that it had power to impose dictates at the very time that its global credibility was waning. Suffering from self-inflicted wounds, it watched former US ally Osama bin Laden force change in global security behaviour and Communist China successfully become a major geopolitical player in the world.

In addition, the American elite and former President Donald Trump planted seeds of doubt and undermined revered American electoral system in two ways. First the elite implied that the electoral system was so vulnerable that Russian President Vladimir Putin helped Trump to win in 2016. Second, Trump took advantage of the planted seeds of doubt to accuse the establishment of rigging him out in 2020. Thus, global and domestically self-inflicted wounds undermined US credibility.

President Joe Biden is unfortunate to exemplify the negatives embodied in American foreign policy. His missionary zeal to reshape and lead other countries sends mixed signals and encourages rebellion even among presumed allies. His decision to turn the SWIFT financial system into a weapon of war against Russia made the ‘dollar’ to lose reliability as global reserve currency and scared other countries into searching for alternatives.

The loss of dollar global pre-eminence worries the US Congress into seeking currency protective answers. Being verbally insensitive, Biden undermined Secretary Anthony Blinken’s China reconciliation effort by labelling Xi Jinping a dictator. He sounded erratic and incapable of leading the rest, including New Zealand that wants close interactions with China. Besides, France and Saudi Arabia are in rebellion as they seek to distance themselves from the United States and gain acceptance in the Chinese-led BRICS financial alternative. Kenya’s William Ruto also calls for de-dollarisation.

The United States in 2023 with Biden and Trump dominating, lacks domestic and global credibility that was there when Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, the Roosevelts, Kennedy, or Reagan lived. Instead, it cuts the image of dangerous irrationality, drooling and seemingly not knowing that it has lost control of world affairs. This was partly because its disdainful belief in its ability to tame others clouds its geopolitical vision.

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