Superpower nations are global leaders, looked up to and emulated by other countries. Many democracies have patterned their laws and policies after leader-nations, and foreigners have adopted their social and cultural mores.
A country becomes a superpower when its economic, military, social and political forces grow to a magnitude of such weight that it can influence the actions of other countries. Lately, with all the breakthroughs in science and technology, innovation has been added to the list.
To date, the US remains the only superpower in the world. This hegemonic status used to be shared with the British Empire and the Soviet Union before World War ll. The British Empire disintegrated as its colonies and territories gained independence, leaving only its historical state, the United Kingdom. The Soviet Union, made up of 15 republics, was dissolved in 1991, making the United States the only remaining superpower. The past decades show that the US has lived up to its tag.
With President Trump at the helm, it’s doubtful though if the country can keep up with its No. 1 standing. World leaders in government, business, tech, political, and the entertainment industries, and influential personalities in philanthropy and the church see Trump in a far different light than his predecessors, and not in a favorable way. As Trump walks away from trade deals and climate change agreements, dismantles health care plans for the disadvantaged, bans travelers from entering the country and banishes immigrants, he is sending a message of isolationism and veering away from international cooperation among nations.
Germany’s Angela Merkel is only one of several global influencers who are now keeping their distance from Trump. Merkel adheres to the open-door refugee policy which has brought in more than one million evacuees escaping from their war-torn countries. Her values are in stark contrast to Trump’s who wants to deport children of illegal immigrants and build a border wall between Mexico and the US. Pope Francis, another well-respected leader, has spoken out about being compassionate to foreigners, even the Muslims that Trump is banning from entry to the US. Heads of state and his own advisers have advocated for peace talks with North Korea to defuse the worsening crisis.
These individuals have made it clear that they are not pleased with the changes in American policies. But unlike the current White House occupant, their statements are restrained and diplomatic, so as not to create further division with the US. Yet it is obvious that, of his own making, Trump’s leadership role and influence is already enormously eroded and most countries will be looking for alternative leaders they can have respect for.
America’s economy, the largest in the world, may suffer from President Trump’s exit from the Climate Change Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, both of which happened during Obama’s term. The Chief Executive pulled out of the two deals, reasoning that they are deleterious to the US and of benefit only to the other member nations. He has also repeatedly attacked China and its president Xi Jinping, threatening a Section 301 investigation and rejecting China’s proposal to address steel manufacturing issues.
China’s economy has soared and it has successfully created multilateral and bilateral trade agreements with other countries, such that it need not kowtow to Trump’s bullying. The US stands to lose if its economic relations with China turns sour. The proposed deal over steel has fallen through, but Trump’s campaign promise to put a quote and raise tariff on steel imports has not materialized.
Other countries are watching the progress or deterioration of US-China ties and will act accordingly. Under Trump’s term, the United States will likely lose its authority and cast doubt on its superpower status.
On global social principles and practices, the US president has always been viewed as a powerful influencer. But President Trump’s beliefs as revealed in his impromptu statements and tweets are in conflict with what America stands for. The Charlottesville rally that pitted the white supremacists against the liberals is glaring evidence of Trump’s racist bent. He has been criticized for objectifying women and calling Mexicans “murderers and rapists. Leaders of superpower countries are supposed to be public exemplars of righteousness, ethical behavior and plain decency. Clearly, Trump is not.
It may only be in the military front that the US is still the undisputed leader. Considering its 323 million population as of 2016, it has 1.34 million active military compared to China’s 2.1 million military to its 1.4 billion populace. It has around 800 military bases in 70 countries while China officially opened its first ever overseas base in Djibouti, a small African country. The base is not yet operational; when it is, it will be working alongside 4,000 US troops already stationed there.
Technology-wise, the US has the most advanced military equipment. It also possesses the biggest number of aircrafts, destroyers and aircraft carriers. Its artillery are the most modern and its personnel the best-trained. It is a close second to Russia in the number of nuclear weapons. In a rare moment of insight and prudence, Trump has not acted on his promise to pull out US troops in South Korea and Japan, and has even sent more military to Afghanistan.
Donald Trump has three, maybe seven if he wins in 2020, more years to get his act together, although at his age, it is unlikely he will change. The way he is running national and foreign affairs, the United States will cease being the most powerful nation, opening the door for China, Russia, India and Brazil to compete for global dominion. But America has plenty of reserves that can outlast Trump, even if he serves for eight years. By the time he is out and cannot do more harm, these reserve resources will be depleted. The next president has his or her job cut out clearly, and voters should have learned their lesson well.