International Stability Flounders as U.S. Recedes From World Stage

By Chris Salazar, Opinion Editor

While the reluctance concerning the catch-22 of global vigilance is natural, the alarms of the past and present sound the exigency of American authority. The lesson of the twentieth century: When the Unit-ed States fades from the global arena, the world enters perilous territory.

Look no further than the decades long squabble between China and Japan. It’s a stressed dynamic wrought by a violent, massacred past and a resurfacing paranoia. High-speed economic growth has waned, giving way to the dormant, subterranean conflicts of the 1950s. And, to fan the fire, previously curbed by trade liberalization and a commitment to alliances, is a zero-sum game. China aims to replace Japan as the dominant, U.S.-backed power in the region.

During the disheartening presidential campaign, Trump insinuated that Japan’s frailty caused an over-reliance on U.S. protection, that that U.S. has outlived its stay and will withdraw from east Asia. But the regions economic ascent only affirms the instability of an American exodus.

“It is not only true that China changed the status quo by getting strong,” said Yan Xuetong, Dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tshin-ghua University and Editor-in-Chief of the Chinese Journal of International Politics, “but also that America and Japan changed the status quo by getting weak.”

The perilous triad that is China, Japan and the United States illustratesThucydides’ twin horned trap. The first horn suggests that rising and established powers are destined for war (in this case China and the US). The second warns of the tumultuous nature of empires: They’re dangerous to establish and even more dangerous if surrendered.

The latter issue is prescient. The United States has been the East Asian hegemony for seventy years. But the political landscape has shifted. Now the choice is to either maintain current affairs at considerable cost or relinquish control, possibly plunging the region into disorder.

Plainly, the postwar hierarchy, constructed and cultivated by the U.S. since 1945, has gone quietly into that good night. The current Korean Crisis, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the growing tensions between the former and reigning super power epitomize the obligation of the sovereign: To maintain order.

The U.S., as the sole super power, has a duty to preserve.  But as President Trump and the United States retire from directing the world’s political theater, state actors vie for the spotlight. The concern is the militant auditions. Because, when the geopolitical order is at stake, the monologue becomes more than a tryout of utterances.