The U.S. has long been the world’s most powerful nation. But its influence has been dwindling, and some are declaring the start of a world that can ignore the U.S.
An Asia Times article titled “Post-US World Born in Phnom Penh” stated boldly:
“It is symptomatic of the national condition of the United States that the worst humiliation ever suffered by it as a nation, and by a US president personally, passed almost without comment last week. I refer to the November 20 announcement at a summit meeting in Phnom Penh that 15 Asian nations, comprising half the world’s population, would form a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership excluding the United States.
“President Barack Obama attended the summit to sell a US-based Trans-Pacific Partnership excluding China. He didn’t. The American led-partnership became a party to which no-one came.
“Instead, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plus China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, will form a club and leave out the United States.”
This quote from Asia Times may be a bit oversimplified. President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), part of his vaunted pivot to Asia, has a 2½-year head start over the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, but progress has been slow. In the meantime, the U.S. continues to lose market share in this increasingly important region and to owe more and more money to the countries of Asia.
Reuters reported Nov. 29 about the 15th round of TPP meetings set for Auckland, New Zealand, this week:
“U.S.-led talks on a free-trade pact in the Asia-Pacific region are entering a potential make-or-break stage, putting pressure on President Barack Obama and other leaders to sacrifice sensitive domestic interests for a big deal to boost growth. …
“With Obama now re-elected, U.S. negotiators have more freedom to deal with demands for the United States to open its sugar, dairy, clothing, footwear and other markets to more imports without worrying about hurting the president at the polls.”
However, will a deeply divided U.S. Congress really support the president in such controversial trade negotiations? Or will the nations of the region find it more in their self-interest to turn from the declining U.S. toward the rising power of China?
How China sees the U.S.
After describing how various U.S. policies are viewed in China, Dr. John Lee writes in the Business Spectator:
“This has led many commentators in China to view the TPP as an American-led agreement that is designed to ‘contain’ China’s rise—not only to benefit America but its regional allies at China’s expense. As many in Beijing would point out, the Obama administration’s growing interest in the TPP coincided with outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2011 pledge to use ‘economic statecraft’ to enhance American leadership and influence abroad. Other Chinese commentators also claim that the TPP is simply an economic pillar of Obama’s ‘pivot’ back into Asia at China’s expense. …
“For the moment, an all-out trade war between the US and China is unlikely and even impossible given the economic interdependence of the two economies, and the globalisation of supply chains. But the competition to define the future rules of economic engagement and commercial behaviour is well underway, and American plans for the TPP are one important part of the battle in the war to do so.”
Should Americans care?
Americans generally don’t express much interest in long-term trade negotiations. Generally such trade deals take years to work out and sometimes aren’t approved even after being worked out. And they involve complex details that can be hard to understand.
But if the article in Asia Times is correct, the events surrounding President Obama’s recent Asian trip may signal another significant decline in American influence in Asia—and the world.
America has been used to being the most significant player in the game. U.S. dominance of world trade has helped make the U.S. dollar the most important reserve currency in the world. And all this has kept other countries loaning money to the United States, even when its debts are reaching levels that have spooked investors away from other countries.
Can America compete in this changing world order? Can America continue to afford to be the world’s policeman and to fight wars halfway around the world? Will American influence continue to decline?
And beyond the troubled times we see on the horizon, is there hope for the future of Americans?
The Bible does help answer these questions, and the articles in our section on “Where Is America in Prophecy?” can guide you in finding these answers. You need to understand what the Bible predicts about the future of the United States—and why. See especially “What Is Going to Happen to America?”