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G-19; The Decline of the USA as a global power

A few weeks ago, I revisited a question I answered for one of my classes while I was at uni; "Is it too early to claim an Asian century". The essay focused on the decline of American influence in the global order in recent years, and attempted to predict what would become of the world order. I predicted that the USA would "still remain an influential actor in the International stage as its legacy of pursuing common global goals will ensure that other nations continue to seek its help; perhaps not as a ruler, but as a leader.". Sadly, however, it seems that with the election of Trump into the oval office, the USA has lost a lot of  its capability to lead the world order. 
With the recent G20 summit, President Trump's inexperience, limited capabilities and obsessive need to be the centre of attention wherever he goes, left him- and with him the USA- isolated in a conference where most countries involved where ready to follow the US and ready to put pressure on China and Russia. What occurred instead, was that the The POTUS walked around looking lonely and lost, while the summit ended up being between 19 countries, trying to work around the USA. 

Trump's Isolation captured in one picture

The G20 summit itself was mostly a success, bringing together leaders of the world in order to commit to the Paris climate agreement, in a  'irreversible' manner- hopefully leading to more drastic  environmental conservation efforts. A separate paragraph had to be written into the agreement to accommodate for the US withdrawal from the agreement. Even thought it still states that the US will continue to work on an approach that lowers emissions, while endeavouring to assist other nations in a search for renewable sources. The US  in this summit, has not done much to assure other nations, instead, it has confused and alienated its allies. 

The summit being held in Germany is of enormous importance. Germany has seen tremendous shifts in world politics. While always carrying forward a strong military, it has seen Dictators, extreme nationalism and communism. Chancellor Merkel leads a different Germany, one that embraces- in the words of Eisenhower- "law and democracy", one that looks to become a world leader. Merkel had to play this summit right, German elections are right around the corner and any misstep could be catastrophic for her, however, she showed prowess in maintaining political power internationally as well as economic and political power regionally in the EU. Choosing to focus around the renewed interest for environmental preservation efforts, gender equality, social inclusiveness as well as the current European problems of migration and terrorism. 
Protesters rallying against the rather conservative climate change policies

Despite achieving quite a significant amount, the G20 summit was marked by protests against the gathering. It started with arson on railway tracks in hamburg. Perhaps the most striking protest was carried out by a group of 1000 performance artists or 'Gestalten', they covered themselves in a grey pigment and marched down the streets in a zombie-like fashion, to draw attention to political apathy, after finishing their walk they removed their grey clothing to reveal colorful pieces of clothing, to symbolise engagement and awareness. Other protests turned violent, leaving 160 policemen injuring and 75 civilians arrested in an attempt to invade the area where the summit was being held.

The United States in the conference was a big point of conflict for all its allies, French president Emmanuel Macron made sure to announce his annoyance with the US withdrawal from the agreement, leaving tensions high between American and French officials. Angela Merkel was similarly displeased , saying the US decision was 'deplorable', all around the room the general sense of the meeting was to work alongside each other but to avoid bringing President Trump into the conversation as he would find a way to derail it. His 'America First' policy presents an unusual challenge to nations willing to co-operate, an approach to foreign policy that chooses to withdraw from agreements without seeking compromise. A dangerous policy to work with, a policy that not only leaves the countries that rely heavily on the US as an ally disoriented- forcing them to seek other allies- It also hinders the US in the long term;  politically, economically and socially. 

Donald Trumps's Turn in the Oval office, has cause significant damage to the United States' already declining foreign influence, with other countries eager to jump on to the vacuum created by this, only time will tell if the USA might ever recover its influence as the world leader.


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