Florence Chong's picture

A NEW world order is emerging, and, as reality dawns, the challenges of disruptive technology may pale in comparison . . .

PICTURE a world which no longer has the security of the United States as a global
It is a world with three super powers —
Russia in Europe; Iranians and Sunni Muslims in the Middle East; and China in Asia.
How do these super powers behave, treat or influence lesser nations?
The United States for 60 or 70 years has provided a security umbrella for nations big and small. From tiny Singapore to post-war Japan — and for most nations in Southeast Asia. The protected have prospered.
But what happens one day not too long after November when Donald Trump becomes President-elect of the United States and confirms, indeed, that he will leave the world to manage its own affairs?
Leading U.S. political commentator Jeffrey Goldberg, author and columnist for The Atlantic, a highly-regarded foreign policy journal, says that when the United States does leave the world stage, the vacuum will be seized by three nations.
Russia will move into the vacuum in Europe, China into Asia, and Iran — with the help of the Sunnis - into the Middle East.
Clearly not a fan of Trump, Goldberg says The Donald has shifted the Republican Party towards nationalism. And even if Trump loses, he wonders whether that genie of nationalism be put back into the bottle?
The US is deeply polarised.
It is not just security that Trump baulks at providing to what he calls the “freeloaders”. Flows of world trade may also alter.
Trump does not like multilateral entities like the World Trade Organisation. Nor does he like regional trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Given his personality as someone easily goaded, quips Goldberg, Trump may trigger actual wars, not just trade wars.
Goldberg says free trade has become “a
monster” in the eyes of the American people. Free trade has lost credibility.
But has Trump really whipped up a groundswell of anti-globalisation as his campaign storms through — or has he just hitched a ride to a latent force?
One gets a sense that Americans feel enough is enough. Why should the U.S. any longer jump to the defence of human rights or democracy in some distant corner of the globe?
When Trump says that NATO (that means the Europeans), and countries like Japan and South Korea are freeloaders, and that he wants them to pay more for the security they are
receiving, it is a message that resonates with Americans.  It touches the most base of human instincts.
America is no longer as rich and powerful as it was 20 or 30 years ago. And the countries it is protecting have streaked ahead in the wealth stakes.
Ask the average American in Ohio or Pennsylvania, says Goldberg, about tensions in the South China Sea, and the issue is not anywhere on their list of concerns. They worry about standards of living, jobs, and matters close to their own hearts.
If Hillary Clinton wins the Presidential race, she will continue to engage with the global community.
Goldberg expects that, by around March next year, President Clinton will embark on a world trip to reassure America’s allies of her nation’s continuing commitment to them.
The old order remains, she will say. They can continue to count on the U.S .in times of trouble.
In promising this, she may not have an easy job convincing Americans at home. But the assurance will be welcomed.
Goldberg believes Clinton will deal with
China both as an ally and an adversary. Her biggest task will be to manage China’s rise in economic and political terms.
This election is a “hinge moment” for the US, says Goldberg — a thought widely echoed by other commentators.
Goldberg went so far as to tell his audience at a CLSA investor forum in Hong Kong that the fate of the United States is in the balance.
Disturbingly, he said, his countrymen are not focussed on this.
Goldberg believes the world is watching the eclipse of the U.S. as a world power. Whether it is Trump or Clinton, America’s place in tomorrow’s world will be different.
Now is the time to take stock of global international architecture, to look at alternatives, he says. For those who once yelled ‘Yankee Go Home’, it will be interesting to see what the world looks like when the Yankees have,
indeed, ‘gone home’.

* Florence Chong is Editor of ATI Magazine.