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Unlike after ‘Saigon moment,’ US can't stand tall after Afghan failure

| 作者: Zhang Tengjun | 时间: 2021-10-18 | 责编:
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  Some critics describe the US' hasty evacuation from Kabul as President Joe Biden's "Saigon moment." In the 1970s, the "Saigon moment" triggered massive anti-war sentiment among US public. This influenced the US' internal and diplomatic policies for many years. At present, it cannot be concluded whether or not Washington's chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan is of as vital significance as the "Saigon moment" was. It depends on how the situation in Afghanistan develops. But it will heavily affect the Biden administration's internal affairs and diplomacy. 

  Chaotic US military withdrawal from Afghanistan can be seen as the first major crisis of Biden's presidency. It is a big challenge for him and his team to deal with. Biden and the Democratic Party this year are supposed to prepare for the mid-term election scheduled to be held in 2022. This is a bad start for Biden into this forthcoming political season. If the turbulent situation in Afghanistan continues well into the year 2022, it will directly hit Biden and the Democratic Party in the mid-term election.

  Some polls indicate that a large number of Americans have lost faith in Biden. CNN on Saturday reported that Biden's approval rating is at its lowest point in his presidency. Republicans are also exploiting the Afghan debacle as a political instrument to attack Biden. He will encounter a severe domestic environment. Up to now, no signs show that Biden is capable of reversing this unfavorable situation.

  The US' debacle in Afghanistan is a direct blow to the trust and confidence of its allies. Since Biden took office, he has spared no effort to rebuild the alliance system, and restore US' global leadership and confidence among its allies. But in regard to the Afghan issue, it is evident that Washington lacks sufficient coordination with its allies. This has triggered the latter's dissatisfaction, and shaken their trust and confidence toward Washington too. It goes without saying that this will have negative impact on Biden's efforts to restore and maintain the current alliance system. 

  The alliance system is the core and basic for the US to maintain its global hegemony. Without support from its allies, the US cannot maintain is global hegemony. It is a fact that the US' national strength and influence is declining. If Washington is not capable of solidifying its allies, restoring their confidence toward the US, then maintaining its global hegemony will be merely an illusion.

  Regardless of whether the US' hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan resembles the "Saigon moment" or not, Washington cannot regain global leadership and hegemony as it achieved after the "Saigon moment." Times have changed in which the US cannot dominate the world solely by depending on its own national power. It is unable to do so, and had to rely on its allies. But the latter bunch is apparently not confident in the US. The US' illusion toward hegemony has been basically burst. Its debacle in Afghanistan exemplifies such disillusions, and Washington has to accept such reality.

  Right now, the US is incapable of regaining global leadership and hegemony as it did in the 1970s. This is also because of its relations with China have been greatly changed. In the 1970s, the US attempted to work with China to deal with the Soviet Union. Washington saw China as an important strategic force which the US could rely on heavily. But now Washington has labeled Beijing as its top rival. The difference is that this time the US has no significant force to rest on. The majority of countries across the world are not willing to see China as an enemy, nor take sides between China and the US. This is the dilemma the US is now soberly encountering. The Biden administration is in an increasingly unhelpful position. 

  (The author is an assistant research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies. Source: Global Times, September 23, 2021)

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