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America is at risk of losing its global power: Ian Bremmer

Nicole Goodkind
Nicole Goodkind

Geopolitical risk is currently consuming American news and will likely be the principal issue during the 2016 presidential election. In all directions the U.S. is surrounded by global instability – from ISIS to Mexican drug cartels to Russia, the world at large will likely dominate headlines and political concern for years to come.

In his latest book, “Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World,” Eurasia Group founder and president Ian Bremmer argues that American foreign policy is incoherent at best. Over the last quarter-century, he says, there has been no clear rubric as to how to handle America’s superpower. If we don’t act now, we might lose that power altogether.

“Just last week we had President Obama invite all of our Gulf allies to come to a critical meeting on security and a week beforehand four of them decided they didn’t need to meet the president,” says Bremmer. “We’ve never seen anything like that before…U.S. foreign policy is in serious decline. It is very clear that Americans are discomforted by how troublesome the global environment is and how we’ve lost our credibility and our influence particularly with key allies around the world.”

Bremmer points to other examples of America’s waning global influence: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose to address Congress without President Obama’s approval, the UK became a founding member of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Bank, and the Turks are buying missile systems from China.

Still “we have real options as the world’s only superpower, we’re not in a corner where there’s only one way out,” Bremmer says. Below Bremmer outlines three potential ways in which the U.S. might proceed in the geopolitical landscape.

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1. Independent America

A bit of an isolationist policy, this framework focuses more on the home front than “foreign policy adventures.” Money would be allocated away from international interests and into domestic education, innovation and infrastructure. “It’s the idea that it’s enormously costly to engage in all of these conflicts around the world, our allies refuse to support it even when they’re affected by it on the ground and China and Russia are much more willing to interfere,” says Bremmer. “It’s much better not to set red lines we aren’t going to sign up to and instead lead by example and get our values right at home.”

2. Moneyball America

This is where America picks and chooses its battles wisely. Instead of selling values across the world, focus only on protecting U.S. interests. This option nixes the idea of American exceptionalism and focuses solely on U.S. security and economic interests. “This means treating the United States as you would a company,” says Bremmer. “Really try to maximize profitability, bring it back to the American stakeholders and shareholders."

3. Indispensable America

This is the idea that America must lead and shape global policy. It’s the policy of exceptionalism where American’s must fight for their values abroad in order to create a more secure world. “This is recognizing that we don’t want to be the world’s policeman and don’t want to do all of this stuff but that if we don’t nobody else is going to,” says Bremmer. “We’re not hurting for cash, if we want to get something done we can—37% of the world’s defense budget is spent by the United States.”

Bremmer thinks that sticking to any of these policies is better than inaction, but believes personally that an Independent America is the best option. “I believe it’s time for America to redefine our true value in the world,” he writes.

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