When the communist system collapsed at the beginning of the 1990s, the world faced an unprecedented situation: the existence in the world of a solitary pole — the United States. This situation, though elating for Washington, no doubt uncovered a difficult question about the “limits of America’s responsibility” throughout the world for successive American administrations. This question is complicated and confusing for even the American administration, because a feudal lord who owns specified land and everything on and under it must realize that he carries on his shoulders burdens and responsibilities for that land and everything living on it, human or otherwise. This Middle Age feudal principle known as “noblesse oblige” can be expanded to a global level in accordance with our own age’s criteria. America, if it wants to exist unchallenged throughout the world, has a number of duties and responsibilities toward other countries, which shows what those challenging America on the issue of their own countries’ responsibilities are enduring. Hence, they are puzzled by questions like “What must Washington do about the spread of the Ebola epidemic in the countries of West Africa?” Similarly, Washington must delimit its contributions to the fight against terrorism, the Islamic State in particular. While Washington hopes to prevent the Ebola virus from leaking through the Kennedy and Reagan airports so that it does not become an epidemic inside the United States, it also hopes to stop the Islamic State virus from crossing its borders and creating another terrorist catastrophe like that which occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.
Though successive American administrations may not have been envied as they pondered and sketched out the limits of their responsibility as the sole pole or feudal lord — if the term can be used in this context — the governments of other countries of the world must also approach the aforementioned questions from their respective positions. When Turkey declares through its foreign minister that it cannot confront the terrorist enemy in Ayn al-Arab, which this Islamic State group has “violently seized,” it wants, in a warped way, for the United States to take responsibility for this task instead of itself. Several other countries are like Turkey, especially in the Middle East, in that they expect America to perform miracles!
These countries are all mistaken because Washington can never fight on behalf of someone or on behalf of an international alliance system, for it suffers from its own problems, to the extent that someday it may be forced to declare to the world and to Russia that it cannot bear the responsibilities of being the sole pole and excuse itself from them!
I expect that this is a real possibility soon to be realized, given that the American administration’s rhetoric has undergone a series of transformations and is no longer what it was during the Bush, Jr. era. Now, America is in effect saying that “we cannot fight who you yourselves must fight. Terrorism is a creature of a number of societies, a part of the legacy of decades of disorderly systems of nurture and education that led to its creation, growth and even its exportation.” Hence, with the language of realism American is saying, “Yes, we will support you with aircraft and bombing sorties, planning and intelligence, but do not expect us to fight your enemies on the ground or for us to sacrifice soldiers for countries that turned a blind eye to terrorism until it dared to take them on. You are the ones who created those enemies through decades of misadministration, absent social justice and sectarian, religious and ethnic discrimination, among other kinds.” Following the same logic, America seems to be saying, “If Ebola is African in origin and spread, why should we bear the burden of addressing the tragic effects of its spread and its outbreak into an unstoppable epidemic?”
It seems that the governments of the world must from now on think about addressing their own problems, particularly those stemming from within, not outside, their borders. America surely will not fight an enemy that is a product of retrogressive, quasi-medieval countries and societies, societies that are still unable to cross over the barrier between the Middle Ages and the modern age.