When a business-like minded person as Trump describes the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as the worst humiliation in the whole history of the United States and total surrender to a local group, what meaning can it have other than today’s America is not the former America and the signs of “decline” of this country are increasing compared to the past?
The word “decline” here does not mean collapse or disintegration of the United States but if we consider the definition presented by Joseph Nye, two meanings can be inferred: one is absolute decline in terms of weakening or diminishing power in the effective employment of resources and the other is the relative decline in which the sources of power of other countries grow more.
Talking of the decline of the US is not blamed on hasty move or exaggeration in analysis. It is based on the signs which could be clearly identified. The issue of the decline of the United States, especially since the 1980s, has been on the rise in academia. In recent weeks, in parallel with the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, this issue has once again become a major topic of discussion in the world media and think tanks, so that America’s top allies and European friends have also abandoned political and diplomatic considerations, while acknowledging to this fact, they have gradually sought to adopt policies and actions independent of the United States.
In this respect and concurrent with the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan, Gerard Aroud, the former French ambassador to the United States, wrote on his Twitter that Europe should wake up as the nurse (the US) does no onger have the patience for babysitting. Additionally, Charles Michel the President of the European Council, referring to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, said the European Union should be able to act independently from the US, considering the developments in Afghanistan.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters at a recent meeting of EU defense ministers that the events in Afghanistan have shown, above all, that the European military forces must become independent. If Europe had such a force, it could have acted independently and better in the exit operation from Kabul airport.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told The Spectator that a superpower that fails to achieve its goals at the international level is not a world power, it is just a great power.
In addition, high-ranking EU officials, concurrent with the meeting of defense ministers in Slovenia, proposed the formation of an “EU Army” as a force to protect European interests! It will be very easy to answer the question: for what reasons and necessities, despite the existence of NATO as the largest military organization in the world, the high authorities of Europe are thinking of forming a European army? The developments in Afghanistan and the domination of a so-called small local group by the most powerful country in the world proved that the United States cannot be relied on strategically.
The fall of Kabul; beginning of the post-US world
The rise of the Taliban marked a bitter and humiliating end for the United States. The Washington Post reported in recent days that the US response to the Afghan issue shows that the era of US supremacy is over. For a government to succeed, Washington Post wrote, interests must be defined in terms of circumstances and capacities. Until now, American politicians, regardless of their circumstances and capacities, have only thought about America’s position and America’s superiority over other members of the international community.
The American philosopher Francis Fukuyama, in an article published in the British Economist, described the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as a historic turning point which demonstrates the decline of the United States.
Nicolas Bowers, a columnist for the French magazine Le Figaro considered the fall of Kabul equal to the US exit from the first line of international order. He wrote that the fall of Kabul is the beginning of the post-US world. The catastrophic withdrawal of US from Afghanistan has not only discredited the Biden administration, but also destroyed the US plan to return to the forefront of international order.”
Thirty years ago, in the late 1980s, the famous English historian Paul Kennedy, in his best-selling book “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers”, portrayed a relatively bleak and dark future for the United States and warned US leaders that they would suffer the fate of other empires i.e. declining global status and gradually becoming an ordinary country. The future that Kennedy has named is facing the United States today more than ever.
Since 1914, we have witnessed two different cycles in relation to the global position of the United States. First, the war cycle of 1914-1945 that led to the transfer of global hegemony “to” the United States. Second, the 2001 to 2021 war cycle, which intensified the transfer of hegemony “from” the United States. Of course, the weakening of the foundations of American global hegemony began with the Vietnam War, but two decades after the end of the Vietnam War, the United States was able to recover to some extent, but this recovery and restoration of the former position did not take long and was terminated with the US invasion of Afghanistan, and its 20-year presence there and the fate it is experiencing. Today, the outcome of the situation in the region and the world indicates that the era of American supremacy is over.
As discussed in this opinion, the decline of American power and hegemony has become an undeniable fact in the world today and should not be considered as fabricated and addressed by anti-American countries and powers, including the Islamic Republic of Iran.
America’s hegemony over the international system, domination of Europe, domination of the Americas and other parts of the world have been due to its victory in World War II. Although the United States is the world’s leading power in terms of advanced military, economic, technological, and political infrastructure, it is no longer a “dominant power.” It is not able to do whatever it wants.
It is a well-known principle in the American system that this country does not leave easily a place. The rule has changed in Afghanistan. The United States has spent more than two trillion dollars in Afghanistan over the past 20 years. When the US government explicitly states that it has decided to leave Afghanistan in order to protect its economic interests and prevent the loss of US dollars in Afghanistan, it indicates that the US defeat in Afghanistan has accelerated its decline worldwide.