America on the defensive.

Author:Scherer, John L.

AMERICA WAS, until recently, the world's sole Superpower. However, this concept has lost its relevance and meaning: The world now is multipolar. Although the U.S. prevails in nuclear kill capacity and maintains troops in 135 of the world's 192 countries, governments distrust and dismiss it.

International crises escape our understanding and elude our control. The Bush Administration has been frustrated in Iraq and Afghanistan. It cannot halt nuclear proliferation in Noah Korea and Iran. In 2001, the U.S. spent between $300-$400,000,000,000 on defense, but failed to prevent attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., with fatalities 10 times greater than any other international terrorist incident in history.

Canada has announced it will not participate in the U.S. national missile defense shield. Canadian officials were outraged when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asserted, without evidence, that terrorists were entering the U.S. from Canada. Ottawa fears that American companies extracting its oil also will plunder and destroy its environment.

Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chavez denounces Washington at every opportunity. Calling himself a "Fidelista," he welcomes Cuban leader Fidel Castro's military advisors, pumps up the sluggish Cuban economy with oil profits, and plans to buy 50 MiG-29s and 100,000 AK-47s from Russia, as well as frigates and tanks from Spain. Venezuela has been the third largest supplier of petroleum to the U.S., but Chavez threatens to sell the oil to the People's Republic of China.

More than half of Australians recently polled indicate they think the U.S. poses as great a security threat as Islamic fundamentalism, and over 70% say Australia should avoid following the U.S. into a war with China over Taiwan.

American power in the world was bound to decline after a long ascent. This loss has occurred over many years, as the threat of Communism diminished. The Bush Administration now is using international terrorism to rally people and nations, though less convincingly, or effectively.

In July, 2001, Russia and China negotiated a 20-year treaty of friendship and military alliance. In the event of an attack by a third party, each country agreed to meet to discuss the common danger, implying one would defend the other. NATO and SEATO treaties contain similar provisions. Beijing and Moscow are determined to prevent the U.S. from gaining hegemony in Europe and Asia. This alliance, which received little notice in America, created a second pole in the new multipolar world. Relations between the former allies have warmed, once again becoming "as close as lips and teeth." Moscow is providing the PRC with oil, electricity, investments, and the most modern military equipment, including submarines, Sovremennyi-class destroyers, Sukhoi-30 jet fighters, and technology for DF21-A and DF41 missiles armed with nuclear warheads. Thousands of Russian military technicians live and work in Chinese cities.

Other nations have joined this alliance. In April, China and India negotiated a "strategic partnership" in order "to reshape the world order." Bilateral trade will rise from $13,600,000,000 in 2004 to $20,000,000,000 by 2008. Moscow plans to provide Sukhoi and MiG-29 fighters to New Delhi, which quickly rejected a U.S. offer to sell it F-16s. Pakistan, traditionally close to China, has negotiated with Beijing for four F-22P frigates. Minsk has supplied Beijing with antiaircraft systems and tracks to transport IRBMs and ICBMs. Russia accepts more than 60% of Belarusian exports and delivers an even greater share of imports to its client.

Washington had expected help from China to settle its dispute with Noah Korea over nuclear weapons. The Chinese control 70% of North Korea's energy supply and provide 40% of its food imports. Beijing, however, has exerted no pressure on Pyongyang to end this standoff.

Despite the nuclear threat from the North, the U.S. hopes to withdraw one-third of its 37,000 troops from South Korea by December. Seoul seeks reconciliation with Pyongyang by pursuing softer "Sunshine" and "Peace and Prosperity" policies.

Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin has dismissed U.S. criticism of the breakup of the Yukos oil conglomerate and his centralization of state power. He has cooperated with Pres. Bush in the war against terrorism and, in so doing...

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