Indonesia has recalled its ambassador after leaked documents reveal Australia spied on president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife, amongst others. Dr Natalegawa:
“It’s impossible for an ambassador in foreign country to do their duty in the midst of an unfortunate situation like this,” he said.
“The summoning of the ambassador is not considered a light step, but it’s a minimum step we can do to consolidate situation, and to show our firm but measured act.”
You have to wonder what the endgame is in this matter. Seasoned foreign affairs commenters seem to think these matters can be managed, everyone knows that everyone spies on everyone else. Behind the scenes all can be settled down and we continue as before.
Well that hasn’t worked so far for the US when Angela Merkel found that her cell phone was not off limits. The issue is still very much alive, though it’s not clear that the US will agree to a legally binding ‘no spy’ agreement.
It seems to me that Indonesia has all the leverage it needs to get whatever it wants, especially as Crikey’s editorial suggests, Abbott is pursuing an asylum seeker-based foreign policy.
Nevertheless the US may not allow us to enter a ‘no-spy’ agreement. Against that, the Chinese are taking an interest.
There’s more at The Guardian and The Conversation. Continue reading Indonesian spying affair
Immanuel Wallerstein has argued since 1980 that the United States peaked as a hegemonic power around 1970. He says the decline was slow at first but became precipitate during the presidency of George W. Bush. At first
the reaction to this argument, from all political camps, was to reject it as absurd. In the 1990s, quite to the contrary, it was widely believed, again on all sides of the political spectrum, that the United States had reached the height of unipolar dominance.
However, after the burst bubble of 2008, opinion of politicians, pundits, and the general public began to change. Today, a large percentage of people (albeit not everyone) accepts the reality of at least some relative decline of U.S. power, prestige, and influence. In the United States this is accepted quite reluctantly. Politicians and pundits rival each other in recommending how this decline can still be reversed. I believe it is irreversible.
Wallerstein points out that the recent kerfuffle over spying on friendly leaders would have been hushed up during the 1950s. Now it is to the advantage of leaders in their local politics to tweak the nose of the US. Not one of the strong actors in the Middle East takes their cue from the United States any longer.
Finally, there are two real consequences of which we can be fairly sure in the decade to come. The first is the end of the U.S. dollar as the currency of last resort. When this happens, the United States will have lost a major protection for its national budget and for the cost of its economic operations. The second is the decline, probably a serious decline, in the relative standard of living of U.S. citizens and residents. The political consequences of this latter development are hard to predict in detail but will not be insubstantial.
Continue reading A hegemon in decline