America’s hegemonic legitimacy is coming into question and revisionist states are usurping American authority. Our closest allies no longer respect our power or our leadership, because we really are not exhibiting that much of either one. China, India, Iran and Pakistan make the testing of nuclear warheads a routine practice. The UN expels the United States from the General Assembly. Several more American embassies are blown up by terrorists. Countries around the world lose respect for American power. Our trade deficits increase substantially. Overpopulation, world hunger and the spread of disease are ignored by the world’s only superpower. America’s hegemonic legitimacy is coming into question and revisionist states are usurping American authority. Our closest allies no longer respect our power or our leadership, because we really are not exhibiting that much of either one.
With the help of the isolationist Republican congressional majority, the world is beginning to look like this. And if we reelect them in November of 2000, things will only get worse.
We have elected a Congress controlled by irresponsible, ignorant isolationists. Their anti-internationalist and unilateral nationalistic rhetoric and behaviour are harmful to America’s powerful place in the international system. This irresponsible isolationism was thrust into the limelight by the Senate’s recent rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
The CTBT is a sound, necessary and worthy document. Most countries recognize its importance as a stepping-stone on the path to a non-nuclear world. Since the time of President Truman, a comprehensive global ban on the testing of nuclear devices has been an important cornerstone of American foreign policy. That’s why we signed it.
We made a promise to our allies. We were going to make a profound statement: A Senate ratification of the CTBT would have been an inspiration to the world. It would have shown that the world’s most powerful nation, with thousands of nuclear warheads, was willing to legally give up its right to test those warheads. The example would have been compelling, bringing China, India and Pakistan, and even Iran and North Korea, under even greater pressure to sign the treaty.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. Now, why should rogue states feel inclined to ratify the CTBT if the world’s superpower so arrogantly believed it did not have to? They would rightly ask, “If America doesn’t have to do it, then why should we?”
Our closest allies, most of whom have already ratified it, are deeply committed to this treaty. In an unprecedented move, the German Chancellor, British Prime Minister and French President literally begged the US Senate to ratify the treaty. Instead, the United States decided to turn its back on its allies. Our allies, especially Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and Canada, are deeply offended and feel betrayed by our arrogant actions.
What makes the CTBT rejection worse is that it is not an isolated event. Rather, it is just one part of an alarming trend on the Republican side toward isolationism. As the extreme far-right wing kidnapped the Republican Party, it turned its policies to the extreme, from abortion to guns and now, it is doing the same in foreign policy.
This Congress’ many foreign policy blunders are single-handedly destroying the many years of hard work that went into building the wealthiest and most powerful nation in world history.
This is the same Congress that is going to get our vote revoked in the UN, because it refuses to pay our UN dues.
This is the same Congress that out of partisan spite is threatening to cut off billions of dollars from the foreign aid budget despite our huge budget surpluses.
This is the same Congress in which only 1 out of 3 Republican members have ever held a passport, and yet they are the ones making decisions that affect billions of people around the world.
The Republicans have acted with flagrant irresponsibility. They do not realize the awesome importance and potential of American power. As the world’s sole superpower, we have important responsibilities; and our power does not give us the unilateral right to ignore the problems of the world and snub international rules and expectations.
If the United States Congress continues down the path of unilateral isolationism, we will outrage and offend countries around the world, including our closest allies. Over time, countries and people will lose respect for American legitimacy. Consequently, this legitimacy will be lost if we are not willing to play by the international rules, the international system will eventually lash out against us. This is not what we want.
Republican leaders in Congress need to realize that America must play an active and vital role in world affairs. We need to encourage the spread of our values, but not flaunt them. America must be an energetic player in the international system, one that respects the rules and mores of that system. Because if the United States chooses not to play by the rules, it will pay the price sometime down the road.