Event Summary: America in Retreat
On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, the SETA Foundation at Washington, DC hosted a virtual panel to discuss ‘America in Retreat: The Decline of US Leadership From WWII to Covid-19.’ The discussion featured Michael Pembroke, writer and historian, and was moderated by Kilic Kanat, Research Director at SETA DC.
Pembroke explained that the motivation for writing the book was born out of his curiosity about the Korean War. He expressed concern about American overreach during this time and wanted to understand why the war took so long. America in Retreat highlights the fact that the first principle of the UN Charter, of which the US was the leading proponent, is that every nation must respect the sovereignty of every other nation. In his eyes, it seems that the US only ever pays lip service to that principle. The roots of the modern problem began shortly after WWII and there remains a continuous trend of militarization that the rest of the world finds difficult to understand. This approach to the world often generates resentment and creates trouble. Now, China has become a peer competitor with a completely different approach to the world. The Chinese have adopted an unwise diplomatic policy that is aggressive and has made states, including Australia, very unhappy. He added that while the Biden administration’s foreign policy is intelligent, he fears that it views the world in terms of American global supremacy. Pivoting to Russia, Pembroke opined that the greatest mistake the US has made is its continuous expansion of NATO, causing Russia to fear American influence in its neighborhood. Finally, Pembroke touched on America’s lack of trust in international organizations and its reluctance to accept the fact that the UN member states all have the same sovereign rights.