By Collins Chong Yew Keat
This Fourth of July marked the 247th Independence Day of the United States of America.
With its unrivalled might in military and security assurances, Washington has also been a stabilising and reassuring force of global peace and stability, underscored by its proven track record in both creating peace and maintaining it. Its track record and legacy of being a force of good to the world and in tackling the world’s most pressing challenges from poverty and climate change, are being easily drowned out by the prevailing voices of anti US sentiments led by Beijing and Moscow.
The US remains the only power that has both the moral and hard power capacity and legitimacy to maintain the rules based system. America’s role in global peace and progress is not born out of a sinister plot to dominate the world or to be the de facto world’s policeman. It is out of sheer natural progression and obligation of being the world’s most powerful nation to serve and protect, and to carry out responsible commitment and contributions.
No other power has the capacity and willingness to be a responsible global player in ensuring collective prosperity. It remains a world player out of necessity and pressing contextual reality, being forced to intervene in the great wars by events and necessities where America’s role has helped to end both the great wars and defeating forces of imperialism and Nazism.
The US could have chosen not to be restrained by the conduct of justice, honor and mutual respect that it created for the global order, and could instead have expanded its unrivaled might at the end of World War II and the Cold War. It did not: Washington chose to remain on the moral high road. With all the power America has at its disposal for now and for decades to come, it could have been so easily tempted to use the power to its own interests and to create total one sided world order under Washington’s orbit. It did not. It could have used this unmatched and newfound power dominance to dictate the world order and to rule with undemocratic conquests.
Instead, a power sharing consensus approach was formed to collectively create and share the responsibility to chart a new system based on law and one that is powered by norms of democracy and freedom. This includes an open and merit based financial and socio economic progress framework based on responsible capitalism that has driven countless countries and people out of the poverty trap and remains the most central model that is driving global economic progress until today.
Millions of lives have been saved and many millions more benefitted, from ending the great wars and defeating forces of aggressions, to lives saved from critical funding and support for health and disasters. The long term impact of these momentous global and life changing events have often been overlooked and taken for granted, drowned by the overwhelming counter-narratives and propagandistic fatalist view espoused by anti US players.
Billions of dollars and unquantifiable amount of resources and focus given in fighting diseases, providing life saving aids, ending conflicts and creating new frontiers and breakthroughs in next level scientific and technological achievements, gave new hopes and changed lives of countless people across regions, countries, creed and religions.
These range from vaccine creation in fighting diseases including Covid and future cancer variations, to financial aid and support for governments in fighting for the values of freedom, democracy, gender equality, human rights and climate impact, among many others. More often than not, the US receives the backfiring fallout from these pursuits of noble values and civilisational progress on these parameters, as most nations prefer the easier way out of developmental approaches that favour easy and fast returns that can secure greater power concentration and regime survival.
They are thus more inclined to favour the easier option of no strings attached overtures and assurances of support from other powers that do not project these values as part of the moral high ground requirements.
In its efforts to advance universal human rights, the U.S. has a range of tools at its disposal. Economic sanctions can be both a deterrence and soft power tool to try and coerce states to protect the human rights of their citizens.
Despite this, America remains unyielding in its purpose and commitment to upholding and protecting universal human rights values.
A high bar is set in trade and economic policies to ensure standards are adhered to, from labour standards to human rights adherence as part of the broader global policies and investment criteria. Strict indicators on environmental impact and spillover effects to the local community are considered, with the drive to enhance collective progress.
Human dignity is reimagined, with people given the liberty to select their own governments and to determine their security options. Differences in opinions and orientations of various kinds are accepted and welcomed, not brutalised and cracked down. Human beings are given full liberty to dictate and determine their path of progress and given the support to achieve their highest potential without the prying eyes and grip of the government. An open and merit based recognition of talent and patent protection, among others, appreciate and celebrate diversity and inclusivity where these rights are the symbol of pride that make America the centre of global talents and dreams.
Leadership policies and systems of governance are moulded based on the sanctity of government of, by and for the people, where instead of fearing the potential and voices of its own people, their credentials are cherished and given the space to blossom. Idealism and generation of new progressive ideas, values and inventions are made possible in a free and open systemic model.
It remains the beacon of freedom, democracy and human rights. Few would have dared to imagine the different outcome should the US choose to disregard its global responsibilities to these values. The world remains a safer and better place with Washington’s commitment.
Collins Chong Yew Keat has been serving in University of Malaya for more than 9 years. His areas of focus include strategic and security studies, America’s foreign policy and power projection, regional conflicts and power parity analysis and has published various publications on numerous platforms including books and chapter articles. He is also a regular contributor in providing op-eds and analytical articles for both the local and international media on various contemporary global issues and regional affairs since 2007.