To begin with, it should be noted that starting in the 1970s, and seriously accelerating in the 1990s after the final collapse of the USSR and the Eastern European socialist governments, international capital led by U.S. imperialism started a campaign to impose neoliberal policies across the world. It should be highlighted that the main parts of this campaign were the privatization of the public sector to bring profit to transnational corporations and local oligarchies, free trade, which is really trade rigged in favor and benefit of the transnational corporations, slashing public services like health care and education, and deregulation of private sector activity, including finance and banking. It is important to mention that imperialist foreign and military policies are driven by the influential and powerful sectors of capitalism, including the military-industrial-energy complex and finance capital. These policies seem to be in direct conflict with the interests of the working class all over the world.
This period also can be characterized by incredible new levels of global capitalist integration to social processes. With the Soviet Union and the socialist bloc no longer a world power and counterbalance to imperialism, finance capital felt free enough to roam the earth consuming resources and smashing any resistance to its neoliberal policies. In the U.S., neoliberal policies escalated the three-decade-long widening of the gap between real wages and productivity with cuts in social programs. In order to fill this gap, finance capital promoted successive speculative bubbles and expansion of consumer debt. The dismantling of the manufacturing fundamental basis of the economy accelerated, accompanied by a serious ferocious attack on organized labor. Economic activity all over the world increasingly relied on consumerism, and became totally dominated by speculative finance schemes. Such conditions led to the U.S. economic recession and global financial crisis of 2008-2009, which has made a negative impact on the standing of the American economy in the world.
It should be highlighted that the discrediting of the neoliberal model of economic development, promoted by the U.S. was also accompanied by the discrediting of U.S. global foreign policy leadership as a result of the pernicious failure of the aggressive militarist policies of the George Bush administration, especially its occupation of Iraq. The result of these extreme militarist and neoliberal policies was a deepening of serious contradictions across the globe, the emergence of different challenges to U.S. imperialism from China, Latin America and elsewhere, and the abrupt and precipitous fall of U.S. standing internationally. The new challenges to the global dominance of powerful U.S. finance capital have spurred different responses from various countries on the world map. China and other rising economic powers include India, Russia and Brazil appeared as a major economic world power rivaling the U.S. The other issue is that most countries in Latin America have rejected neoliberalism at some point, and this neighbor region that was once a playground for imperialist exploitation has been establishing independent forms of economic development and cooperation. The European Union is a big economic center that is also acting independently of the U.S. It should be noted that in the United Nations, the U.S. still owns power through the veto, but it no longer solves all questions of international politics. Other countries are demanding serious changes to the structure of the United Nations organization and other global institutions to reflect the qualitatively new world balance of forces. The United Nations in particular is a huge arena of struggle with the potential to play an important role in the international sphere of interests (Democracy Global Issues, 2014).
Thus U.S. imperialism is facing unprecedented and complicated challenges to the unrivaled supremacy it had for many years. It is being forced to retreat with its diminished influence. In such a way American government of foreign affairs is facing growing pressure from international community to restrain its use of military power, or even to demilitarize, to take responsibility for the deep poverty all over the world, and to respond to and help prevent disasters and pandemics. In other words, it is under pressure to rethink its understanding of cooperative and collective global security in a way that goes beyond power politics and prevention of terrorism.
The other part of international problems, concerning U.S. and bound with global changes, is connected with the expansion of democracy (Feinstein, 2014). It should be highlighted that the implications of democratic expansion across the world nowadays are manifold. Typically new democracies have experienced serious tendencies to backslide back into more repressive and authoritarian forms of government. Some current democracies like Spain, Greece and South Korea were only recently still run by dictatorships and have a risk to returning to early regimes. Even long-established democracies are not totally immune to this backsliding tendency, as is it shown by the growing restrictions on citizen privacy and civil liberties in the United Kingdom and even United States, two otherwise stellar examples of successfuly established democracies. In addition, the democratic development of depressed economically or long politically repressed nations has given them legitimized voices on the international stage. It means that long standing rhetoric in favor of freedom and democracy has forced powerful nations like the United States to give additional credence to those nations that have recently democratized, but it should be highlighted that often these nations seek dialogue with the U.S. and other major global powers to redress long standing grievances and problems related to economic exploitation. The issue is that the development of democracies is important for foreign policy of U.S., but if more nations become democracies and request to be treated equally on the international scene, this can force current powers to re-evaluate their relationships with other nations in unprofitable way.
It should be mentioned that people of the United States and the world now face a complicated international challenge, which is connected with climate change and global warming. Divisions have emerged between developing and industrially developed countries, among various sections of global capital, within the global working class and common people, over who will bear the price for changing from a fossil-fuel-based world economy standards to a green-energy economy. Developing countries worry they will pay a huge sum for the destruction caused by richer, influential industrialized countries. Some sections of global capital that can accept the science of global warming and possibly have a self-interest in a move away from destructive practice of using fossil fuels have clashed with other forms of capital that reaps profits from gas, oil and coal.
The facts of global warming present humanity in general and U.S. government in particular with fact that some punishing effects, changing life on the planet as we know it, are possible in the nearest future. The first victims could be people in the developing countries who are most vulnerable to rising sea levels, droughts and other climate change impacts. This presents not only a challenge but a big unprecedented new opportunity for a mass social movement to reshape the U.S. and world economies and politics to benefit the people and the planet. It will bring serious confronting of those sections of the U.S. capitalist class that have long earned huge profits from the fossil-fuel-oriented economy and that are making efforts against any steps that would curb their power.
Taking everything into account, it should be concluded that a new foreign policy for a new era is required in U.S. This entails not only a retreat of imperialism, but also the projection of a constructive role for the U.S. government in the global arena. The idea of a positive non-military active role for the U.S. government in international affairs is one that needs to be fought for and achieved. The opportunities for this today are much greater than they have been in some time. It should be highlighted that the struggle to achieve that new kind of foreign policy needs special attention to Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and complicated U.S. relationships with Iraq, Africa, Iran and closest neighbor, Latin America, especially Cuba. There is a big amount of other very important areas and potential flashpoints that have to be considered, including India, Kashmir and Russia conflict, the Korean peninsula and so on. What is more, there appear many new hot spots at the map of the world, such as Ukraine and Venezuela, where the interests of U.S. should be protected with the qualitatively new political approach (Woehrel, 2014).
An Introduction to Climate Change.(2014). Natural Resources Defense Council. Retrieved April 4, 2014 from http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/climatebasics.asp
Democracy Global Issues.(2014). United Nations Publishing. Retrieved April 4, 2014 from http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/democracy/index.shtml
Feinstein, Dianne. (2014).Foreign Affairs. United States Senator for California Site. Retrieved April 4, 2014 from http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/foreignaffairs
Woehrel, Steven. (2014). Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy. Retrieved April 4, 2014 from http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33460.pdf