US brinksmanship caps off a year of declining prestige
The China Post news staffThe U.S. Congress passed a bill on Thursday to re-open the federal government and to raise the debt ceiling, two hours before the deadline which would have put the U.S. in danger of defaulting on its debts and thrown the world into financial chaos. It is not as much a deal as it is a postponement of the showdown for a few months' time.
October 20, 2013, 12:42 am TWN
The bill might have saved the U.S. from an unprecedented and potentially catastrophic default, but the long-term, serious damages to the global standing of the U.S. has already been done. The second U.S. debt scare in three years has caused the rating agency Fitch to put the U.S. on notice for a possible downgrade. Banks that were fencing themselves off from a possible debt crisis by limiting exposure are no doubt already planning for the next crisis. World leaders ditched diplomatic courtesy and publicly lectured Washington politicians to get their act together.
The self-inflicted crisis capped a year of declining global prestige for the U.S. In spring, the media reported on the secret global wiretapping programs run by the National Security Agency (NSA). The U.S. was revealed to have eavesdropped on foreign diplomats, including those from European allies and has cast a global net to filter the communication of hundreds of million phone and Internet users around the world. In the summer months, President Barack Obama got red-faced when he bumbled on how to act in response to the Syrian government forces after they crossed his “red line” of using chemical weapons. In the end, the U.S. handed the driver's seat to Russia's Vladimir Putin, who engineered a deal to disarm Syria's chemical weapons and got to lecture the U.S. on its “dangerous” exceptionalism in a New York Times op-ed piece.
The congressional gridlock, however, has dealt the worst blow to the nation's international image by far. The absence of U.S. influence at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit is a clear symbol of that damage. U.S. allies who were left with a dominating Chinese leader as Obama dropped out from the summit to address the U.S. government shutdown will no doubt question the U.S. commitment and capability to follow Obama's “pivot to Asia” strategy. What's worse, the Chinese media's call for a “de-Americanized world” gained gravitas amid the U.S. fiscal chaos.