Exploring the Reasons for the Decline in America’s World Power

Exploring the Reasons for the Decline in America’s World Power

In a recent poll, the Gallup Institute revealed that US’ soft power has been on the wane since Donald Trump took office and continues to decline. In the poll, the United States is reported to have descended from the number one world power in 2016 to world’s third most powerful nation in 2017 and 2018, and may drop to fourth by the end of 2019 according to various metrics.

What are the reasons for and signs of this decline?


Budget deficit

Under the Constitution, the U.S. federal government can borrow money from institutions and countries to finance itself, to which, of course, interest will be added. In the U.S., the debt ceiling (debt limit) is called a fiscal cliff. Every time debt goes past the fiscal cliff, Congress will issue a charter allowing the federal government to borrow more money. If that does not happen, the federal government can shut down, something that happened in 2018.

The U.S.’ large budget deficit may force Congress to lower the debt ceiling and again end up in a federal government shutdown in 2019 or 2020 (the second chart). The situation could cause a large number of federal employees to stop receiving their salaries.

Indeed, one way to supply the U.S. budget is to sell bonds. Currently, Saudi Arabia and China are two of the biggest buyers of these bonds. Therefore, the US-China economic war may lead to a budget deficit.


The U.S. government’s debt

In 2019, the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) will be $ 21.344 trillion, while the government’s debt was $ 21.974 trillion at the beginning of the year and $ 22.026 trillion in June. Thus, the debt exceeded the GDP.

The most important reason for such a big debt is selling too many bonds that had been made to redress the deficit. The Chinese government is the creditor on more than 6 % of this debt, a fact which put the U.S. economy into an abyss of bankruptcy. This is because the GDP cannot compensate for it, which, coupled with the White House’s terrible policies, could increase the volume of these debts every year.

The U.S. in international politics

One outlook that has governed U.S. foreign policy is the one founded in 1945 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, based around a concept of global peace. According to this outlook, disturbing global peace could directly lead to the weakening of the United States on the international stage. During the last 70 years, despite the American military invasion of various parts of the world including Iraq in 2003, Cambodia in 1969, Afghanistan in 2001 and authoring numerous coups and coup attempts in various countries such as Argentina in 2002, Venezuela in 2002 and 2019, Iran in 1953, again, the White House was at least ostensibly justifying its wars as a means of establishing peace.

During the presidency of Donald Trump, however, the U.S. has taken a more direct posture against world peace. Trump is, in fact, undermining the international order which has guaranteed U.S. power to date.

The factors upon which Roosevelt’s international order was based are in flux as a result of Trump’s faulty decisions which threaten the collapse of this order, along with unprecedented developments in the international arena.

These developments are:

  • The emergence of a new kind of global terrorism
  • The fall of the Euro Financial Union indicator
  • The emergence of Asia as a global financial power
  • The collapse of the Soviet Union
  • The accession to power of nationalists in various countries
  • The movement of regional powers in most parts of the world
  • Changes in West Asia and North Africa
  • The European Union (EU) weakening


The U.S. in the international economy

Trump’s decisions on international economic questions have led to his country’s financial debilitation.

Trump has turned the diplomatic, military, and political rivalry between the United States and other countries of the world into an economic rivalry. Economic battles between the world’s superpowers will lead to the enfeeblement of one side, which will hurt the foundations of the global economy and ultimately lead to all countries suffering accordingly. If the U.S. comes out ahead in its economic war with China, for example, the United States has done little more than fray one of its biggest economic partners!

Meanwhile, the U.S.’ trade is unbalanced in regards to exports to and imports from Japan, Mexico, Canada, and Germany.

The negative balance could lead to susceptibility in the U.S. domestic economy, particularly in regard to other countries’ fiscal policies.


Social crisis: Homelessness

While the U.S. government is one of the richest on the planet, the unfair distribution of wealth in American society has led to a dramatic increase in the number of homeless people. Under U.S. law, a homeless person is someone who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. Although the federal government has assistance programs for the homeless, according to statistics, their numbers are increasing.

African-Americans constitute as many as one-third of the homeless, 23% of which have children, 51% are single men, 25% are single women, and 40% are under 18.

The primary reasons are:

  • An unbalanced distribution of wealth and power
  • Predatory loans and housing price increases
  • Unemployment
  • Racial discrimination

The situation leads to an increase in crime, drug addiction, mental and physical illnesses, the transmission of infectious diseases, and ultimately severe general social damage.

Mani Mehrabi
Senior international affairs analyst, Faculty member at the Think tank of International Relations (Tehran, Iran)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


March 2023