The New Global Challenge.
The episode reflects a profound change in the identity and direction of Turkey, once a nation hungering to become more and more westernized and to join the European Union. Throughout the Cold War and right up to today, Turkey has been a member of NATO--indeed, the crucial southern flank of the anti-Soviet military alliance. Today, relations between Turkey and the United States are at a low ebb, with Turkey arresting a U.S. consulate employee for alleged ties to the U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen and the United States in return suspending most visa services for Turks.
This development is part of a much larger and troubling global trendline: the world is in turmoil. The old structures of stability, constructed through World War II and its aftermath, are in progressive deterioration. If the United States is to maintain its global significance, it must respond to this challenge with a tough-minded, clear-headed, creative diplomacy. The first imperative is to recognize that the push for global hegemony only adds to the chaos of our time.
Consider the elements of this instability, aside from Turkey's profoundly consequential new direction: the Korean peninsula, once a dangerous but essentially stable place, has come unglued; Mideast nations are jockeying for position in ways never before seen there, a kind of reality-based Game of Thrones; the European Union, for decades moving toward ever greater cohesion, is now under threat of internal decay, while Europe itself is under threat of a foreign deluge; U.S.-Russian relations are more tense than at any time since the Cold War; the specter of a rising China threatens to upend America's decades-long role as Asia's central power; America suffers from tense internal divisions centered on the very definition of the nation.
Since 9/11 America's foreign policy has been focused primarily on preventing the rise of any regional powers and holding sway over events and developments wherever and whenever feasible. But it hasn't been feasible in many places, notably in the Middle East and Russia's western sphere of influence.
A new direction in U.S. foreign policy is desperately needed. The first imperative is to abandon the hegemonic impulse and avoid actions that exacerbate the instability already menacing the world. That means accepting the Iran nuclear deal as amelioration, at least temporarily, of one problem the world doesn't need now. It means a cessation of actions that inflame the world of Islam with anti-American and anti-Western fervor--no more support for the Saudi brutalization of Yemen; no more Afghanistan misadventure; no more unnecessary drone-strike assassinations; no more Libyan and Syrian intrusions. It means working assiduously toward normalized relations with Russia rather than pushing Russia into the arms of a far more troublesome China.
America must accept regional spheres of influence and concentrate on fostering a balance of power in the world. This is painstaking work, less inspiring than global domination. But if the world is to transition from Franklin Roosevelt's old order to a new structure of stability, while avoiding a global conlagration in the process, America will have to take the lead--as a moderating nation, not a hegemonic one.
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|Publication:||The American Conservative|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2017|
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