British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace appears to be questioning whether the United States is still a superpower after its recent hasty retreat from Afghanistan. Wallace served in the British military prior to entering politics.
|British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace
In an interview with Katy Balls recently published in The Spectator, Wallace said: "It is obvious that Britain is not a superpower. But a superpower that is also not prepared to stick at something isn’t probably a superpower either. It is certainly not a global force, it’s just a big power". "Britain hasn’t been able to field a mass army for 50 years — if not longer". "It was always part of a massive international effort — so I think our defense paper is in exactly the right space". Britain, he says, still has "a huge range of tools at our disposal: from soft to hard power, economic power, scientific power and cultural power".
Wallace appears to be developing a reputation as a straight-talker who has angered some among the western elite. He recently defended British Defense Forces Chief General Sir Nick Carter's remarks supporting Pakistan. Responding to the familiar charge of "safe havens" for Taliban in Pakistan, General Nick Carter told BBC's Yalda Hakim that Pakistanis have hosted millions of Afghan refugees for many years and "they end up with all sorts of people". "We would be very worried if they heartlessly kicked out" the Afghans from Pakistan. He said that Pakistan's Army Chief General Bajwa genuinely wants to see a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
General Sir Nick Carter also called the Taliban "a group of country boys who live by a code of honor" and said that they wanted an "inclusive" country. When asked about these comments, Wallace said in Carter's defense: "He also said that he will see if they change. We are where we are, the Taliban are running the country." Asked whether he was defending Sir Nick, Mr Wallace said: "Of course I am defending him. Nick Carter knows more than I will ever know about Afghanistan and the Taliban and more than most people. He is a deeply experienced general. He also told the BBC it "may well be a Taliban that is more reasonable, less repressive and, if you look at the way it is governing Kabul at the moment, there are some indications that it is more reasonable".
While Wallace is the first among top western leaders to question the United States status as a superpower, there have been others such as Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani who has been talking about it for sometime.
Mahbubani, a prolific writer and speaker, believes that the western domination of the world over the last 200 years is "aberrant" when seen in the context of the last several thousand years of human history. In his book "Has China Won", he writes that "we are also moving away from a black-and-white world". "Societies in different parts of the world, including in China and Islamic societies, are going to work toward a different balance between liberty and order, between freedom and control, between discord and harmony".
In a recent interview, Mahbubani made the following points about US-China competition:
1. The United States with about 240-year history likes to pass judgement on China which has over 2,400 year history. What makes the US think China would listen to the American advice?
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