Concerns over rapidly changing geopolitics

Ben Wallace, Britain’s defense secretary, suggested the US could no longer be considered a superpower in an interview where he also contrasted his department’s handling of the Afghanistan crisis with that of the embattled Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office.

The pointed comments – coming at a time of heightened transatlantic and domestic tensions over the messy retreat – feature in an interview in the Spectator magazine given days after the final western forces evacuated from Kabul.

Asked whether the exit from Afghanistan demonstrated the limits of British power on the world stage, Wallace started by saying, “It is obvious that Britain is not a superpower,” then appeared to switch his focus to the US. “But a superpower that is also not prepared to stick at something isn’t probably a superpower either. It is certainly not a global force, it’s just big power,” the defense secretary added.

It is not the first time that Wallace has publicly criticized the US – in mid-August, as the Taliban were beginning to make sweeping gains in Afghanistan, the defense secretary described Donald Trump’s 2020 peace deal with the Taliban as “a mistake” that “strategically … causes a lot of problems”.

Such views are quite common and increase with time. Many politicians, scholars, intellectuals, think tanks are of similar views and are arguing to find out other options. After the US emerges as the world leader, and Europe was depending on the US for its security. The formation of NATO was only one of the phenomena, but the actual leadership role was much beyond.

 However, the over-ambitious military adventures around the globe, over 100 military bases worldwide, and many big wars and military misadventures have weakened the US economy. The luxury of defense budgets has broken the economy and impacted the domestic society adversely.

Since, President Trump’s era, some NATO members and allies were not happy with his offensive behavior. Some of the international leaders were feeling embarrassed by his remarks and were looking forward to other options.

Currently, Europe has not strong enough Army to depend on all defense needs. So it is natural to explore all available options. All countries to raise their own independent Armies may not be feasible economically, or at least some of EU member states can not afford the luxury of raising their own Armies.

On the other hand, the US is also not in a position to sustain all its defense expenditures forever. Taxpayers in the US have many questions and concerns. Unrest and concerns within the US, are growing and on the verge of a civil war-like situation.

It is not only due to President Joe, but he is also an old man and it is not good for his health to face all huge criticism. In fact, the situation that emerged has been due to compiling problems over a long period and just are bursting recently. Especially, the Afghan situation has exposed the US.

Russia may offer protection to Europe if they desired. But Eastern Europe may not be willing for such offers.

Anyhow, geopolitics are changing rapidly, new alliances may emerge soon, and old alliances may break-ups. The public is asking respective governments many harsh questions and especially, the youth is asking for jobs, social security, developments, welfare, whereas, the resources and capacities are limited. The frustrated youth is exerting some type of pressure and forcing respecting governments to explore all possible available options.

Public need security, peace, and enabling environment, where they can work hard and earn sufficient to live a comfortable life. If the respective government fails to meet the expectations of the public, there are possibilities of a huge crisis.

It is the responsibility of scholars, politicians, think tanks to devise a mechanism to address the deep concerns and satisfy the general public. Collectively, we may transform this world into a better place to live. 

Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.