Adopting the role in the aftermath of World War 2, the United States has stood as a bastion of freedom and free people. Reagan captured this remark in a speech, saying a foreign individual called a US soldier “Freedom Man”. In the decades that followed, the US was the leader in science, economics, and the fight to preserve liberty against the hostile Soviet Union. This fight against the Soviet Union despite what some may wish, was not just an external policy or jets but included internal matters. The country experienced record prosperity and faced difficult challenges, not with a jackboot, but real creative solutions. The modern United States is wracked by self-doubt and cities burning. Externally it keeps bases in a safe, restored Europe while China purges certain minorities and threatens the entire region. Like a castle on the hill, people can see it is under siege and has taken significant damage.
Both parties have realised that barreling into Middle Eastern conflicts is not as possible as in the past. Even before COVID, there was a sharp focus on domestic matters or regions away from it. This change in political thought is unlikely to change no matter who wins the US presidential election. That election will determine if a new target is found and where resources are sent. Many individuals now wonder if the United States is even able to project power abroad as internal issues grow. Historically speaking the United States has managed to unite quickly and then come out on top despite any previous disunity. Concerns, however, do exist that America has forgotten that it was founded on bold, brave ideas. A pullback seems likely as the home demands attention before the outside can be dealt with.
Demanding European Duty:
The numerous clashes with Europe are a feature of the Trump presidency. However, problems were developing between the United States and Europe during President Obama’s stay at the oval office. NATO is the primary reason for these clashes. A search for a purpose since the fall of the Iron Curtain continues to the present. The unfair benefit to Germany and other countries who no longer pay for their defences has become more apparent for the American public. Suppose Germany honestly believed that it was in a dangerous situation with Russia. In that case, it is curious why it continues economic relationships with it and also has not increased defence spending.
Movement away from NATO deployments has already started. A pivot of focus has moved to the hostile growing Chinese threat. Anti American sentiment has grown across Europe, and this should mean those elements can celebrate a return to sovereignty. This return also includes the military cost that the US has been bearing. Strangely this does not seem to be happening. To save the NATO partnership adjustments are urgently needed. Nations that have continuously complained about Russia will have to adjust their perception of Russia or act more like a real ally. If not, then the potential exists that they will suddenly be forced to act like normal nations and require defence spending. The status quo vampiric relationship that Europe has enjoyed is ending. Either it will become a better ally or have to go in a more independent path.
Chance For Local Solutions
It is not possible to fault the United States for lack of sacrifice. For decades it has sent its sons and daughters to fight around the world. Goals, perhaps have been vague or have been more complicated, but the reasons provided have always had to have some nobility. Yet around the world, it has attempted to create solutions and improve peoples lives along with other missions. The Middle Eastern peace talks have demonstrated that a new approach then guns and bombs is a solution with more chance of success. America wants to be more careful with commitments with domestic concerns and experience. This includes giving local ideas and people a chance to solve problems. With the US not running away, it can help facilitate these talks between different groups to achieve better outcomes.
COVID provides the perfect clean break to adopt more successful approaches. Time is not the only measurement of success and old projects that have failed should be stopped. There have been issues that we have been trying to fix the same way for decades, and the result is no change. Trying new solutions may be scary, may not be like presidents past would have done but is essential. If the goal is actual solutions to problems, then changing tactics is no betrayal of sacrifice. It is important to remember that those sacrifices were not for the project but to try and stop the problems.
No matter what the election result is the US influence around the world is decreasing along with its military footprint. Tolerance for world policing has worn out. While this is certainly a step into the unknown, it is needed. Depending on how others step up to the responsibility will determine the outcome. America may return once again or never truly leave. Its focus, however, needs to be on restoration and fixing itself. A ruined castle cannot stand up to attack and cannot defend those in need.