By the end of WW II, it became evident that the United States was the uncontested world leader. America became respected and admired as the reach of its values and power made it a global leader and example to the world.
People and countries looked up to America to maintain world peace. America became the most effective peacekeeper in the world. Because of that trust capital, the U.S. was able to achieve peace in unlikely places.
A perfect example of that was the remarkable peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. President Carter, in 1979, was extremely influential in brining Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, two of the hardest minded fanatical combatants the world had ever seen, together to forge the first peace treaty between Israel and any Arab country. The American prestige and the benevolence were the major pillars upon which this agreement stood and still stands.
Later on, when the war in the Balkans erupted, America again used its soft power to help settle that long-standing conflict. In 1995, President Clinton with the assistance of the capable diplomat Richard Holbrooke helped to forge the final peace agreement that was signed in Dayton, Ohio.
Many times, America’s interventions helped to settle or prevent wars by using its diplomacy to cajole or arm twist fighting factions to settle to an agreement guaranteed by the American goodwill. In order to reach any agreement, the fighting sides have to put their full trust in America and its leadership.
When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia, which at that time had the largest oil reserves in the world, America, with the help of its coalition partners came to the rescue and defeated Saddam and return Kuwait back to its people. America was the savior not only of Kuwait but also of the whole world oil supply. America took the responsibility to ensure that the world economic engine finds its fuel for the foreseeable future.
Recently, America appeared to be detaching itself from the international arena. This is partly due to the fact that It has been very busy with its own problems; from a cruel pandemic that took the lives of more than 215,000 Americans and infected more than 7.5 million, to the racial unrest and the resulting demonstrations and the unfortunate destruction of lives and properties, to a polarizing election year. But the main reason is that America has started to have a different attitude towards global issues in general.
It is interesting that very few people know the name of the current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. We all remember the giants who were America’s ambassadors the UN, such as Adlai Stevenson, George H.W. Bush, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Madeleine Albright and recently Nikki Haley. They were always on the news and being interviewed about international affairs. Now, we rarely, if ever, hear from our UN representative. That symbolizes America’s lack of interest in the UN and the outside world in general.
But the world problems did not stop because America is busy. They have actually intensified partially because America is missing in action. I will give you three examples of world problems that America could help to resolve.
The first conflict is related to the raging war that erupted in late September between Armenia and its neighbor Azerbaijan. The war started in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies within Azerbaijan, but its citizens are of Armenian descent. The conflict started to widen since Turkey declared that it was supporting Azerbaijan and sending Turkish and Syrian fighters to take part in the fighting. Erdogan, the Turkish president called on all Muslims to support Azerbaijan, a Muslim country, against the Christian Armenia. There is a real danger that the fighting will escalate more. In the absence of America’s leadership, the combatants are now looking to Russia to help resolve the conflict.
The second one is the conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, a tributary of the River Nile, that may threaten the flow of water in the River Nile upon which Egypt depends for 90% of its water supplies. The U.S. tried to play a role in the resolution of this conflict earlier, but then it lost interest. So far, that conflict has not resulted in a military action, but it could. America is needed here to provide a win-win solution that depends on America’s standing and trust.
The third conflict is the one going now between Saudi Arabia and its allies and Yemen. As of March 2020, UNICEF estimated that about 2 million children are dying of starvation. By the end of this year that number will go up to 3.2 million. America has a lot of credit with Saudi Arabia, especially after giving it a pass about the murder of Adnan Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident who was killed and his body dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul a couple of years ago.
Whether we like it or not, the world still looks up to us. And we should not shy away from rising up to the challenge of confronting those international challenges. We still can do good in this turbulent world and we should use our credit and our capital to spread peace and resolve conflicts around the world.