Philippine, Saudi, and Turkish pivots signalling the end of the American century

Of the many themes that will go down in history for the year 2016, perhaps one of the most significant will be the pivot of nations away from the U.S. sphere of influence, and their move over to America's perceived adversaries.  Yet even this is just a microcosm of the great frequency change taking place that seems to even go beyond the 'Shmitah' phenomenon, and is similar in scope to changes incurred globally during the second decade of century's 100, 200, and even 1600 years before.

The second decade of a given century has experienced some of the most significant paradigm shifts for all of mankind.  For instance, the sacking of Rome by the Goths took place in 410 AD, the initial crossing of Moors into Europe occurred in 711 AD, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses that began the Reformation in 1517, The House of Romanov seized power and began a 300 year rule in 1613, the War of Spanish Succession began in 1712, the Napoleonic era and the re-drawing of the European map took place in the second decade of the 19th century, and of course World War I and the eventual fall of three empires came out of that same second decade in the 20th.

Yet what also came out of the fall of the Austro-Hungarian, Hapsburg, and Ottoman Empires was the rise of the United States as a world power, and our eventual evolution into the greatest nation the world had ever seen.

Unfortunately for the American people, when the final real struggle of the Cold War ended there were as Caesar said, 'no more worlds to conquer'.  And very soon arrogance replaced humanitarianism within the halls of power in Washington, and a doctrine of dominion replaced that of even Woodrow Wilson's dream of self-rule and self-governance for all peoples and nations.

But as history has shown time and time again, no empire is ever too large or powerful that it could not be brought down by something as great as an opposing military force, as ignored as a populace uprising, or even as invisible as a natural disaster (plague).  And here in the second decade of the 21st century, the 100 year rise and fall of the American empire may be signalling its twilight through three innocuous events that have taken place so far in 2016.

Turkish pivot to Russia

Even more important than Britain or Germany is to NATO and U.S. global hegemony, Turkey may be the most significant country since it provides the key staging ground for Washington to venture into Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.  And after the U.S. failed to support the Turkish government when it aggressively took down a Russian aircraft in support of the same terrorist groups created by Washington to try to bring down the Assad government, Turkish leader Erdogan used a failed coup in July to sever their 50 year support of the United States, and pivot over to Russia where it appears that this sea change will end up being permanent versus simply a petulant reaction for not getting the full support they expected from an ally.

Ankara’s relations with Moscow were improving even before the botched coup, but the failed putsch appears to have accelerated rapprochement culminating in Russian President Vladimir Putin holding talks with his Turkish counterpart in Saint Petersburg on August 9.

”Erdogan’s visit came at a time when both Turkey and Russia are going through a rough patch in their relations with the West,” the analyst observed. Erdogan “opted for a pivot to Russia when he did not receive the backing from the West he was hoping for following the coup attempt.”

Putin and Erdogan announced that both countries were ready to restore relations, but Ankara wants to speed up this process, Öztürk Yılmaz, deputy chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), told Sputnik.

”The Turkish president wants to improve relations with Russia in all key spheres as soon as possible to put an end to Turkey’s isolation in the international arena,” the former Turkish diplomat said. “For his part, Putin has been more reserved.”

— Sputnik News

Saudi Arabia pivots to Russia and China

Besides the beginning of Turkey's pivot away from Washington back in July, another long-standing ally showed its disdain of the U.S. and of President Barack Obama during that same month when it broached Russia with an invitation to visit the Saudi Kingdom, as well as agree to attend an economic conference being held in St. Petersburg.  And this of course was not the first intentional slight of the U.S. since back in January the new Saudi monarch left the American President waiting during his visit to attend the funeral of former King Abdullah.

Even before the United States and Iran reached a landmark deal this week to rein in Iran’s nuclear program, the past 20 months of negotiations have seen one of the United States’ strongest allies in the Middle East retreat in skepticism — and straight into the embrace of an international adversary. But then is Saudi Arabia really our friend anymore?

The latest troubling evidence: A high-level delegation from Saudi Arabia attended a Russian-sponsored economic conference in a country targeted by punishing U.S. economic sanctions for its actions involving Ukraine. The real buzz, however, is that the visit of the Saudi crown prince was to deliver an invitation from King Salman for Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the desert kingdom.

Mr. Putin didn’t waste time accepting the invitation.

Is King Salman ditching the United States for Russia? Is a partnership between Russia and the kingdom in the making? Is Saudi Arabia’s rapprochement with Russia payback for U.S. negotiations with fierce Muslim rival Iran over the latter’s nuclear program? Answers to these questions aren’t as simple as one might think.
Shockingly, when President Obama visited the kingdom in January of this year to attend the funeral of the late King Abdullah, King Salman in a clear diplomatic slight left our president, his wife and a staffer waiting alone in the palace till King Salman finished his mid-day prayer. The U.S. news media didn’t report this incident. It was Al-Jazeera in Doha, Qatar, that reported the kingdom’s insult.

I strongly believe that, in making Obama wait alone, King Salman sought to send a message that there’s a new ruler in charge in the kingdom; that things will change drastically; and that Saudi Arabia will resolutely pursue its own interests, regardless of what the United States thinks and wants. In a further show of noncooperation, King Salman snubbed Obama several months later by not attending an international security summit at Camp David.

— Huffington Post

So by the end of July, two key nations which were the backbones of the petro-dollar and NATO agreements were now on their way towards America's greatest adversary and there was little Washington could do to stop it.  And unfortunately for the U.S., once a shark sniffs blood in the water then it usually doesn't take too long before schools of them begin to circle to feast on the wounded carcass.

And the next shark that entered the game was the Philippines.

EVEN in a year of extraordinary reversals, few would have expected it. In July China reacted with fury when an international tribunal upheld a complaint from the Philippines and rubbished China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. This week it is rolling out the red carpet for the mercurial Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte. He is being feted in a four-day state visit, with 400-odd businessmen in tow. Rub your eyes: America’s strongest ally in South-East Asia appears to be plopping like a ripe mango into China’s hands.

Consider what Mr Duterte, in power since June, has said in recent weeks. He has branded Barack Obama a “son of a whore” for criticising his “kill them all” war on drug dealers and addicts, which has claimed thousands of lives, many of them innocent. He has demanded an end to joint naval patrols and to America’s assistance in the southern jungles of Mindanao, where American special forces advise Filipino troops fighting against Abu Sayyaf, a violent group linked to al-Qaeda. And he has questioned whether America would honour its treaty obligation to come to the Philippines’ aid if the archipelago were attacked.

Mr Duterte talks of China like a moonstruck lover. On the eve of his visit he told Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, that China’s generosity to poor countries was without reproach. China “deserves the kind of respect that [it] now enjoys...It’s only China that can help us.” He has been at pains to point out that one of his own grandfathers was Chinese. Thrilled, the Chinese ambassador in Manila talks of “clouds fading away” and the sun rising to “shine beautifully on the new chapter of bilateral relations”.

— The Economist

A Filipino pivot would have devastating effects for ongoing U.S. policies that include China's seizing of 'disputed islands', as well as Washington's goal of creating a Pacific Rim trade pact through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  And perhaps even more it could send shockwaves to the rest of Southeast Asia which would rightly fear being isolated and choose to join the rush to the door to get a good deal out of China before it is too late.

Europe is already beginning to crack on unanimity with U.S. sanctions against Russia, and German businesses are even pushing Chancellor Angela Merkel to create her own pivot towards Putin.  And following the UK Brexit vote last June, even the most powerful U.S. ally is suddenly looking to their own economic needs and are moving ever so slowly towards China's camp.

As the world continues into the second half of the second decade of the 21st century, history is once again rhyming in full measure.  And just as no one foresaw the innocuous events that led to the sudden and horrific world war that would shape the globe for the entire 20th century, and see the end of three long-standing empires, very few are giving any real credence to what is happening to the U.S. in global relations that could very soon see Washington isolated completely, and no longer able to function in a world they no longer recognize, or control.