For many of America’s allies, among the most unsettling aspects of President Trump’s 2016 campaign was his insistence on upending the current world order, tearing apart longstanding international commitments and desecrating hallowed principles subtending the post-Cold War liberal world order. But in a complex world, Mr. Trump’s proposals both found support domestically and provided opportunity for long-term rivals, from Russia to
China through the Middle East. The stakes for all major geopolitical players are high.
“Geo Political Recession”
“The triumph of ‘America First’ as the primary driver of foreign policy in the world’s only superpower marks a break with decades of U.S. exceptionalism and [the] belief in the indispensability of U.S. leadership.” So write political risk analysts Ian Bremmer and Cliff Kupchan, President and Chairman respectively of the Eurasia Group, in their 2017 forecast “Welcome to the Geopolitical Recession.” “With it ends a 70-year geopolitical era of Pax Americana, one in which globalization and Americanization were tightly linked, and American hegemony in security, trade, and promotion of values provided guardrails for the global economy. In 2017, we enter a period of geopolitical recession.”
On this reading, ‘America First’ will mean the U.S. will become an ‘absent superpower’ henceforth acting on near-term national interests, instead of aiming for longer-term global order and common values. This is likely to create near-term chaos and pockets of political risk: a resurgent China, an aggressive Russia, increasing potential for direct confl icts and the weakening of global insti tutional architecture. The new U.S. position is not isolationism but a unilateralism that prioriti zes its own economic interests above its traditional promotion of democracy, civil rights or the rule of law, and risks the use of force with less regard for the consequences.
“The global environment is really much more volatile… [with] America itself [as] the biggest risk,” Mr. Bremmer commented. “If there’s going to be a big hiccup in the global markets in coming years, it’s much more likely to come from the geopolitical environment than it is likely to come from an economic or financial crisis.”