A “Grand Strategy” can be defined as a vision that a leader or statesman has for their country’s prosperity and stability. Moreover, a grand strategy post-global hegemony for the United States has already been thought through for the most part by the likes of Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. The forerunner to Kissinger and Brzezinski was Walter Lippmann. For students of American foreign policy and international relations who are not familiar with Walter Lippmann, I suggest that you research him and become familiar with his work.
If you parse through the work of Kissinger and Brzezinski (which I have), you’ll find that a grand strategy for the United States in terms of its foreign policy post-global hegemony would consist of three basic elements.
Although it is easier to come up with a strategy than to implement one, it is still worthwhile to suggest this particular strategy after you are confident that previous strategies and theories for foreign policy haven’t really worked in establishing global order and peace or preserving American control and power over the globe:
- Integration of Russia and Turkey into the European Union (EU)
- Peace deal between Israel and Iran
- The creation of a “G-2” between the United States and China
Strategies and theories for foreign policy which precede a post-global hegemonic policy and strategy are isolationism (which left the system vulnerable to global war and instability absent American involvement), containment (which flares up military tensions and increases the risk of war with adversaries such as Russia and China), and of course global hegemony (unsustainable in the long run). Moreover, global hegemony strengthened American adversaries by providing an impetus for them to band together. By banding together for the purpose of counteracting a policy of American global hegemony, American adversaries grew in power. Militarization is merely one aspect of global control and power. Other dimensions of control and power have to be taken into consideration when crafting a post-hegemonic foreign policy and strategy.
In my view, avoiding the strategy mentioned above amounts to beating around the bush and wasting precious energy and time. What we need more than anything as an international community and society at the moment is “a common strategy” for global order and peace, and this basic template for a broader strategy is perhaps something that many in the international community can agree upon.
If you’re into sports, and if you conceive of international politics and international relations as a game — which is exactly what it is — here’s how it played out over the course of the last twenty years or so. I’m going to use a basketball analogy to explain in my view how it all went down, and you can then determine whether it makes sense to you or not:
9/11 set off a rivalry between two teams who were both electrically charged, but one team had a bigger payroll and better players than the other one. Afghanistan was supposed to be the venue where the better team could showcase its dominance over the game and over the other team. Afghanistan is the “Madison Square Garden” of “The Great Game.”
But after a road trip to Iraq and the Middle East, the United States went on a losing streak. And when the focus had to shift back to Afghanistan to close out the season in the Western Conference, the momentum wasn’t there going into the playoffs.
Meanwhile, China was steadily rising through the rankings in the East during the regular season. Now, the United States is up against China in the NBA finals after each side won out their respective conferences. And after the tip-off in Game 1, China shows that it has the energy and momentum as the finals begin. China ends up performing very well in the series, and after a grueling battle, the series ends up being tied at 3-3 going into Game Seven.
So, the United States is trying to find a way to win the series in Game Seven of the NBA Finals. The problem, however, is that China has home court advantage going into Game Seven, and the crowd is known to be hostile. Throughout the playoffs, China hasn’t lost a single game at home. And to make matters worse, the United States lacks the right coaching because the coaching staff lost both the head coach and the playbook before Game Seven.
In the end, political, economic, and social stability in the United States hinges on providing universal education, universal health care, and universal basic income — “multidimensional wealth” in the words of Amartya Sen — to all its citizens and permanent residents. If people in America — especially Republicans — can overcome their prudishness, racism, and stinginess and realize this, the likelihood of a Trump type figure getting elected or having a January 6 type of incident happening again in the United States will diminish. By throwing out 500 ballots in Florida in 2001, Republicans altered the fate of America for the worse.
Thus, the opportunity costs of American global hegemony were huge. They amounted to the loss of multidimensional wealth that the American people deserve and are entitled to based on the UN Charter, which is the legal equivalent of the U.S. Constitution based on Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution. What resulted from the opportunity costs stemming from a policy of American global hegemony were January 6 and the very dangerous populist anger and frustration which underlied that incident.
Change and reform starts with demanding a better life and a better society from those at the top, despite the fact that those at the top will perhaps do whatever they can to inhibit change and reform. In America, those who are at the top are Congressional leadership and the corporations and special interests who have bought off the Congressional leadership.
But after all the Islamophobia that was fostered by American leaders and policymakers over the course of the last twenty years, and after all the people who were killed or were tortured in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and around the world at the hands of Americans, I’m not sure if the karma in America has changed for the better. Also, the higher the rise, the harder the fall. It will take a special person or a group of special persons to change the karma and thus enact the changes and reforms that would establish order and peace on a global level.
Ultimately, discourse (thoughts, logic, words, and actions stemming from an oeuvre) shapes reality. But Western discourse now lacks an oeuvre due to modernity, and “Madness is the absence of an oeuvre” to borrow from Foucault. Thus, the discourse shaping the international system is one of madness, given that the international system has been Eurocentric for the past 500 years.
The corrupt lot that is in power in Washington right now who lack transparency, hide things from people, and lie to people won’t cut it. Only a truly global leader who can effectively communicate with people and educate them — and a “global state” that assists and helps a global leader — can change the fortunes of what is otherwise chaos and a power vacuum in the international system stemming from the demise of the American unipolar moment and American credibility and legitimacy in the international system.
The two foremost challenges to America’s geopolitical strategy are Russia and China. The whole strategy for the United States hinges on two pivot points, namely, Ukraine and Taiwan. In my view, if there are concessions made by the United States to Russia and China regarding Ukraine and Taiwan, then the United States can sustain its “rimland strategy” of global control without much of a challenge, given that you can placate Russia and China through these concessions. Ukraine and Taiwan have always been the red lines for Russia and China. If you can come to a settlement with Russia and China over these two pivot points, then the likelihood of sustaining your geopolitical strategy increases. You can take this assessment with a grain of salt if you want, but the United States is not obligated to Taiwan legally, nor is Ukraine of much strategic importance to the United States, as President Obama once mentioned in an interview with ‘The Atlantic’ magazine. If conceding Taiwan equates to peace with China, then the concession is worthwhile.
Also, you have to know your adversary or opposition in order to win the battle against them. China’s geopolitical ambitions are limited to two things, namely, territorial sovereignty (Taiwan) and influence over Southeast Asia. Transferring Taiwan to the Chinese would bring a ceremonious end to a policy of American global hegemony. And in turn, the transfer of Taiwan to the Chinese would sustain America’s current geopolitical strategy.
Moreover, America is largely absent from Southeast Asia. China is the largest trading partner of ASEAN, and it naturally falls as a sphere of influence for China, as Latin America does for the United States. Second is Japan in terms of trade with ASEAN, and third is the European Union. The United States comes fourth when it comes to trade with ASEAN. Thus, the United States should have no problems accommodating China’s two foremost national interests.
The question which remains is not so much as to whether Russia still has imperial aspirations or ambitions over Eastern Europe. Rather, the question is whether America has the capabilities to keep Eastern Europe as an integral part of its geopolitical strategy. Once you concede Ukraine and placate Russia, what remains is the issue of whether it is worth keeping Eastern Europe as part of your geopolitical strategy. Capabilities and willpower have to be assessed when aspiring to a policy and strategy of global control and power. After pursuing a policy of global hegemony, the capabilities and willpower for global control and power have diminished to a great extent on the part of the United States. Also, there is a question of who or what will replace the United States as the anchor or guarantor of global order and peace and the purveyor of global control and power. At the moment, there are more questions than answers. As always, everything is in a constant state of flux, and many things are for the large part up in the air.