As we look to the new year, many news media outlets are reporting that 2018 will be the first year in over seven decades that the world does not look to the U.S. for leadership. Under 45th President Donald Trump, the U.S. has taken a much more isolationist stance in the world, and leaders around the globe are looking to other countries for leadership.
Whether or not the U.S. is still the “championed leader” that it was after World War II is debatable, but the essential question remains: does the world still need U.S. leadership?
After WWII, the world was in need of a leader. It was in shambles and needed a beacon of democracy and freedom to guide broken nations away from the evils of the Axis powers.
The U.S. was able to fill this role, and even though the then U.S.S.R opposed the United States in the Cold War, America still stood at the helm.
But, seventy-three years after the end of World War II, times have changed greatly.
It isn’t as simple as standing up to bully nations who are looking to invade others and acquire mass territories. No, the problems of today are much more complex and nuanced, and there aren’t straightforward solutions.
In 1992, Samuel Huntington proposed the “clash of civilisations” theory. The belief was that cultural and religious differences would be the cause of conflict post- Cold War, rather than from differing ideologies or nationalities.
In the post-Cold War era, it’s hard to deny this theory.
Since the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in the 1990s, the present day world has been dominated by religious extremism. September 11 changed the way the world viewed terrorism, and its aftermath divided the world. Throughout the world, people rise and revolt when they feel their cultures and beliefs are being threatened.
And when such conflicts arise, there’s no way to stop them.
In the increasingly globalized and multicultural world, there are no more true identities. With migration and immigration, millions of different people from various backgrounds and religions live together all over the world.
So, how can you declare war on a religion or a culture if it is present all over the world, and even in your own country?
The truth is, you can’t, and not even the greatest nation in the world, the United States, can figure out a straightforward solution.
Democracy has spread throughout all parts of the globe. People are becoming more empowered everyday and are increasingly challenging governments to protect their individual rights. The United States is an example of democracy at its finest, and is what nations will look to model themselves after, but it is not needed in this mega-leadership role that it once desperately was. The root problems of the world have changed, and it isn’t as simple as “good vs. evil” or “free vs. unfree.”
The U.S. is still the greatest nation in the world. It should still be replicated for its technological and media innovations, its world class secondary education, and its fabulous sports teams. But, in a world where questions like “what is the best way to combat terrorism” or “why is my culture being attacked” are being asked, and there are no real answers or solutions, there is no need for a leader to guide the way.