Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
June 28, 2022
“America the Beautiful” is a spiritually rising and patriotic song, it should be played more often. The lyrics were based on the 1893 poem by Katrine Lee Bates. At the time, US was healing after the brutal civil war some 30 years ago; it was a reborn nation with renewed spirit and energy ready to grow up. A key point was that US at that time was focused on building a great nation and it did.
Unfortunately, as the following “opinions” exposed the challenges facing this great nation of USA:
- America is not what it used to be; it is “backsliding” in the global stage.
- America is not self-confident anymore, not only we are in danger, the future of the entire “west” is under siege. It will be our fault if we do not take up the arms and fight for the “west.”
We have to recognize the fact the US must focus on resolving some major domestic challenges first as listed in the first piece attached. All these challenges are well known, and they are tough nuts to crack. Each of them will take strong leadership, time, resources to resolve. The real danger now is “politics as usual” in the US: it appears that there are no serious efforts to unite the nation and resolve any major challenges. Scheduled elections were supposed to be a check and balance including timely transfer power to the next generation leaders so new ideas can be tested. Unfortunately, it is not the case in DC now.
“The foundations on which we have built our plans for the future will also collapse?” But the foundations will not be collapse because Ukraine war were lost. Because the US foundation that our forefathers built is crumbling within the US. The way US society is divided and fighting/drifting against each other “wining” Ukraine war will not be any cause for celebration. Especially, as of now, there is no clear definition of “wining” the Ukraine war! As a matter of fact: no one is “wining” right now and longer the war drags on more pain for everyone.
Tale of 2 summits: ‘America’s back’ to America’s backsliding
Sun, June 26, 2022, 9:06 PM
ELMAU, Germany (AP) — One year ago, Joe Biden strode into his first Group of Seven summit as president and confidently told the closest U.S. allies that “America is Back.” Now, many of them are worrying that America is backsliding.
As Biden meets this week in the Bavarian Alps with the heads of G-7 leading democratic economies, he carries with him the domestic baggage of political unrest, shocking mass shootings and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end constitutional protections for abortion.
Biden’s 2021 summit was meant as a palate cleanser to the “America First” ideology of his predecessor, President Donald Trump.
Embracing multilateralism and global partnerships and restoring faith in America’s alliances — especially NATO’s mutual self-defense pact — were top on his agenda. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said of Biden, “We’re totally on the same page.”
Biden’s election was seen by most allies as an American reset, returning to norms honed over decades, with predictability and stability at the fore.
A year later, the reception for Biden remains warm and the public emphasis on America’s global leadership remains upbeat — especially in the context of Biden rallying the world against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But increasingly, that view is set against a backdrop of potential turmoil ahead.
“I think Europeans no doubt look at the U.S. domestic situation with a degree of dread,” said Max Bergmann, director of the Europe Program at the private Center for Strategic and International Studies. He added: “It’s sort of the best of times, the worst of times.”
Biden’s visit to Europe comes as a congressional committee investigates the attempted overthrow of the 2020 presidential election by Trump and his allies, whose party stands poised to make substantial inroads in the November midterm elections. The crisis of mass shootings and gun violence — uniquely American among similarly positioned nations — draws condemnation from horrified allies. And the high court decision that allows states to ban abortion sparked a fresh round of denunciations and worries from some of the United States’ closest partners.
“Abortion is a fundamental right for all women,” tweeted French President Emmanuel Macron. “It must be protected. I wish to express my solidarity with the women whose liberties are being undermined by the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Biden told reporters Sunday evening that the subject of the abortion decision had not come up in his chats with world leaders.
“Not related to Ukraine or any of the issues discussed,” he said, replying flatly “no” when asked if the matter was broached to him by another summit attendee.
Yet when the Supreme Court ruling came down Friday morning, Biden ended up being the third G-7 leader to offer reaction, with Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Britain’s Johnson quickly condemning the ruling even before Biden had delivered remarks at the White House.
“I’ve got to tell you I think it’s a big step backwards,” Johnson said Friday. “I’ve always believed in a woman’s right to choose and I stick to that view and that’s why the U.K. has the law that it does and we recently took steps to make sure those laws were enforced throughout the whole of the U.K.”
Trudeau called the decision “horrific,” adding: “No government, politician or man should tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body.” He said he couldn’t “imagine the fear and anger” women in the U.S. must be experiencing in the wake of the ruling.
And after 19 students and two teachers were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, condolences flowed in from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, even as his own country’s armed forces suffer many times that number in casualties due to Russia’s aggression.
“The people of Ukraine share the pain of the relatives and friends of the victims and all Americans,” he tweeted at the time.
Bergmann said that while European leaders might have varying opinions on the merits of the Roe v. Wade ruling, they have broad concern about the upheaval that the ruling could unleash.
“They saw the January 6th insurrection, they are very concerned about America’s domestic stability and then here is a decision … that clearly has the potential to upend and explode American politics and make America’s political divides even deeper and that is something that’s incredibly worrying,” he said.
The Europeans, he added, look at U.S. domestic discord through the lens of their own security.
“The underlying concern is what’s this going to mean for the United States as their security guarantor,” he said. “Will America be stable enough to uphold that?”
Pressed on how the abortion decision would affect America’s standing in the world, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the ruling an “extreme decision” that endangered same-sex marriage and access to contraception by married couples. But she said Biden’s position globally was unchanged.
“Look, we’ve heard from a lot of the leaders already,” she told reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to Germany. “I know some of them have put out statements — very vocal — about what they have seen from this decision,” saying they were “offering support to the American people.”
“I don’t think this stops the work that the president is going to do or wants to do or looking to do with leaders,” Jean-Pierre added.
Johnson, for his part, denied he harbored specific fears about America’s overall path.
“Looking from the outside, it was pretty weird,” he told CNN on Sunday when asked about the Jan. 6, 2021, attempt to overthrow the presidential election. “But I don’t believe that American democracy is under serious threat, far from it. I continue to believe that America is the greatest global guarantor of democracy and freedom.”
Most G-7 nations tend to be more liberal than the U.S. on a range of issues, and Trump’s flip questioning of longstanding alliances rattled more than just heads of state and government.
Biden’s “America is Back” messaging has faced renewed scrutiny from everyday citizens of allied countries.
“I think America is divided,” said Gabriele Jocher, 59, a freelance social worker from Garmisch, Germany, just miles from the summit site. “I think there are really very good forces and people who really want to move forward like that but also very backwards. And that just makes me think, globally, what’s going on there that just like two forces are clashing.”
Christina Maurer, 59, a homemaker and nurse in the picturesque town, added: “Everything that Mr. Biden wants to change now, I don’t know. Then another one will come, his name will be Trump or something similar and he will ruin everything again.”
Opinion | The Future of the West Is in Question
Mon, June 27, 2022, 9:00 AM
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine surely heralded the end of an era of illusions. The subsequent criminal actions of the Russian army — the massacre of civilians in Bucha, Borodyanka, Mariupol and Irpin — have proven that post-Soviet Russia is not the country the West had imagined. A confluence of old-fashioned nationalism, imperialism and colonialism supercharged by hyper-modern propaganda tools: This is the image of a 21st-century totalitarian state. It is the true face of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and one must be a cynic not to recognize it. And yet, just diagnosing the disease is not a cure. It is not enough for us to discard our illusions regarding Russia, we must also cast off the illusions toward ourselves.
More than 120 days have passed since the beginning of the war. Ukraine and its military can be proud of the steadfast resistance they have put up against one of the supposedly most powerful armies in the world. On Feb. 24, no one gave the Ukrainians a chance of more than several days of survival. Meanwhile, they not only defended Kyiv, but pushed back the enemy far to the east.
However, only now have we reached the critical point of this conflict. Many assumed that Putin’s aim was a blitzkrieg and the seizure of all Ukraine. Russia’s enormous potential notwithstanding, taking control of a country as large as Ukraine, with more than 40 million inhabitants, would always be a nearly impossible task. However, Russia’s main objective remains not only that of paralyzing Ukraine but of further destabilizing the West. And despite the successes of Ukrainian troops, Russia is moving forward with its central goal, destroying industry, roads and schools along the way. While Ukraine has surpassed expectations to fend off Russia for this long, unless the U.S. and Europe intervene more forcefully, a protracted war could mean not only Ukraine’s downfall but — in the long term — the rise of a new global hegemony, which will be able to marginalize the Western world.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently said Russia occupies 20 percent of Ukraine’s territory. The scale of Putin’s bloody land grab is as if the U.S. were deprived of Texas, California, Montana, Arizona, Oklahoma and New Jersey. Russia is like a python, which seizes its prey and waits until it is weak enough so that it can swallow it whole. Procrastination and passivity will play in favor of the invader. That is why it is so important the West stop deluding ourselves that the support we have thus far provided for the Ukrainian army is sufficient.
The latest intelligence reports confirm that the Russians are strengthening their presence in the occupied territories of Kherson and Zaporizhia. They are not only increasing the numbers of their troops but also exploiting moments of Ukrainian fatigue to build fortifications that will prevent an effective counter-offensive. Ukraine is trapped. The normal functioning of the economy is largely impossible today, and Russia is crippling grain and food exports.
This is no longer a local conflict. Around the world, food market deficits, especially those that may occur in Africa and the Middle East, are catalysts of yet another migration crisis. This is exactly what Putin wants. Russia’s actions already have global consequences in the form of Putin-flation. And the further effects are difficult to even estimate.
Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Pakistan, Tunisia, Morocco and countries of the Sahel are among the indirect victims of this war and the resulting food crisis. None of these are oases of peace. Each of them could easily fall into the orbit of stronger Russian influence.
And as for the elephant in the room, China — the largest importer of food from Ukraine — certainly, the war in Ukraine will not deal a blow to its economic position. It may, however, be an incentive to become more active in taking over global assets. The “Chinese Dragon” could seize this opportunity to make a giant leap forward.
The geopolitical passivity of the Western world carries the risk of its marginalization. History teaches that prolonged conflicts bleed both sides, but dictatorships have an advantage over democracies. They are not accountable to their societies and can pay the price of blood, even with opposition from their citizens. We should not forget the lessons of Afghanistan and Vietnam: Both of these tragic clashes proved that a lack of decisiveness and an entanglement in many years of guerrilla warfare ultimately bring only losses. But those failures did not lead to the rapid decay of the global world order for one reason only: There were no candidates for a new hegemon.
Now everything is different. A defeat of Ukraine will have more far-reaching consequences than the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan or the defeat in Vietnam. If Ukraine falls, the foundations on which we have built our plans for the future will also collapse.
The U.S. and Europe may be replaced by China — or China in tandem with Russia. We will find ourselves in a completely new chapter of world history, one that could be written in extremely bloody verses. There are increasing signs that the lack of decisive measures against Russia may be critical for Taiwan. China sees Russia’s relative weakness and, at the same time, it sees how much weaker the West is if it cannot stop a declining empire.
The war in Ukraine puts before us one crucial question: Does the transatlantic free world still want to occupy a position of leadership? Do we still believe in the universality of values such as freedom and the right of national self-determination? Do we have determination to defend them? If not, we have already lost our future. However, if the flame that has enlivened our civilization for centuries is still smoldering, it is high time we rekindled it and did everything in our power to save Ukraine.