May the new “policeman of the world” raise up their hand…
When one mentions the land of freedom, the place where opportunities abound, and a continent where milk and honey flows, many will be tempted to think of the United States of America. Even with President Donald Trump’s America-first and anti-immigration policies, many still dream the American dream.
Recently though, the emergence of other economic powers such as China, Russia and Europe has made many question if America is still the “super power” or the “policeman of the world”.
At the Kampala Geopolitics Conference held at Makerere University on 26 -27 October 2018, a panel of analysts, journalists and consultants got together to discuss the issue under the topic, USA: Not the policeman of the world anymore? Implications of the Trump Presidency on global power relations.
Pascal Boniface, the Founding Director, IRIS, France, started off on an unapologetic note by declaring that America is not great anymore.
“When Trump says let’s make America great again, it’s a recognition that America is not as great,” he said.
Boniface argued that United States is now isolated and only relies on proxies to exert influence, a situation he attributes to Trump’s pursuit of “America First” policy.
“Wanting to be first is wanting to be alone.”
President Trump has been accused of undoing some strides by his predecessors, as he seeks to leave a mark attributable to him. Boniface thinks this endeavor is akin to “jumping into a machine and going back to the 60s when there was no real challenge for the US”.
Will it work though?
“Reality is stronger than ideology. Trump will fail because no country will allow to be relegated. Trump is destroying US soft power. Sooner or later, the US will regret. Trump is making the US weaker again,” Boniface said.
So, if Trump fails to make America great again, will another superpower succeed in making their own continent or country great; will they succeed in becoming the world’s policeman?
Angelo Izama, a journalist, political analyst and regional security consultant thinks the world doesn’t even need a “class monitor”.
“The world doesn’t need a world policeman anymore. Some of the things we are seeing being done under Trump has helped us rethink our issues, e.g., identity politics.”
He added: “The idea that you need a policeman to make you behave is toxic.”
Izama thinks that “Trump’s policy of America First, of isolationism, is dangerous for Africans.”
Contrarily, Robert Kirunda, a lecturer at Makerere University School of Law, thinks the world shouldn’t think too much into Trump’s isolationist policies.
“I don’t think Trump has intelligent policies on America First,” he said. “The office of the President is a big deal anywhere in the world. But how do you deal with a president who can’t help himself against Twitter?
Kirunda believes that the factors realigning the world “has very little to do with America first”.
And instead of sweating over America’s exclusionist policies, Kirunda thinks Africa should worry about how it will reposition itself in the new world order.
“What are you doing to prepare for a disrupted world in future?” he asked. “We shouldn’t be saying, ‘what has European Union done for us?’ Foreign policy is selfish in nature.”
The increasing move by America to focus within and secure its interest, has been followed by a corresponding disinterest in Africa. In fact, Izama noted that Somalia and Sudan are the few key interests for the Trump administration. However, there’s been growing interest in the continent by other economic powers, notably China, in what has been described as the second scramble for Africa.
Irene Ikomu, the Program Development Consultant, Heinrich Boell Foundation, thinks the label for this phase doesn’t matter but how Africa positions itself.
“We can look at this as a new scramble for Africa or a new opportunity,” she said.
Perhaps one way of positioning is by “encouraging dialogue and multinationalism” with the different emerging super powers, according to Samuel Carcanague, Researcher, IRIS, France.
“China is the businessman of the world. America is leading in new technology,” he said.
Eric Tusiime: We are blaming the US and EU without cleaning our own house. African problems are supposed to be solved by Africans. Before we criticize anything, let’s get organized.
Solomon Ocunguru: No one wishes Africa progress or development. We are here sharing our wisdom. These people will go back and rethink how to conquer us. In order to survive, we should nuclearize Africa.
Sarah Mirembe: I’m really concerned when Pascal Boniface says the US is not the world policeman anymore. I need an alternative.
Michael Okwera: Most developments in Uganda are completed by aid, donations, etc. You cannot stand with the UK and say, I don’t want US as my policeman when the UK is better than Uganda economically and can stand on its own.
Milton Muto: What we see in the US, could it be a crack in the fellowship of injustice? In Africa, do we have any leader who can tackle things that are unjust?