The US retreat from a potential attack on Syria may signal a major geopolitical power shift. After the attacks of September 11, 2001 neo-conservatives within the George W. Bush administration used US military might to attack and occupy Afghanistan and Iraq. The US military budget grew to comprise over 40% of world military expenditures.
Yet the 2007-08 economic crisis forced cutbacks in such outlays. The Pentagon discharged a fifth of its army and ceased numerous research programs. While it still wields tremendous power the US is no longer able to involve itself in large conventional wars.
In summer of 2013 Washington was deterred from attacking Syria when Russia deployed its fleet on the Mediterranean coast. Had the Pentagon pursued other aggressive means Syria’s non-state allies would have likely answered with a regional war, plunging the US into too massive a conflict for it to handle.
In the New York Times Russian President Putin stressed that “American exceptionalism” is an insult to the equality of humans and can only lead to disaster. President Obama answered that no other nation sought to shoulder the burden of the US to police the world and ensure human equality.
At the UN General Assembly in September 2013 other world leaders—including US allies—echoed Putin’s criticism. Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff elicited applause when she demanded an apology from the US for its wide-ranging espionage, and the President of the Swiss Confederation condemned US belligerence. Bolivia’s President Evo Morales suggested trying the US for crimes against humanity, while Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic pointed to the fraudulence of the international courts that prosecute only the Empire’s enemies.
The change in outlook, combined with America’s diminished military prowess, suggests a potential new route toward more civilized international relations.
Source: Thierry Meyssan, “The United States Feared No More,” Voltairenet.org, September 30, 2013, http://www.voltairenet.org/article180396.html.
Student Researcher: Christina Parente (Florida Atlantic University)
Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)