In my assessment, USA stands as a world leader not just because of its superior military power. To be a world leader, a country must require having somewhat ‘ideological agenda’, which could organize other major countries of the world under the leadership of that country. And I must make it clear that it is not just philosophical assertion but in fact it is ground reality. About two centuries back when Britain and France were struggling for their colonial expansions, both these countries were doing it for the cause of some ideological agenda. Agenda for Britain was the ‘cause of white man’, and the agenda for France was ‘civilization of un-civilized human populations’, mainly in African countries. In this way, both these colonial powers were actually legitimizing their colonial holdings, in the eyes of other countries.
In the later periods of colonization, Britain adopted the slogans of ‘liberalism’, ‘democracy’ etc. as their political agenda with the view to legitimize its colonial holdings.
What is Legitimization?
Legitimization is the NEED of any government or head of government. In the contemporary world, this ‘legitimization’ mainly comes from democratic vote. When some political group gets this democratic vote, its position as true head of state becomes UNQUESTIONABLE in the eyes of not only country’s own population, but also in the eyes of governments of other countries of the world.
This ‘legitimization’ exists even in absolute dictatorship or monarchy, but in somewhat different form. A monarch king usually legitimizes his kingship by manipulating the religious beliefs of the population of his own country. In the ancient Greek world, Alexander, for instance, ‘legitimized’ his superior position by calling himself as ‘son of Zeus’ (i.e. an ancient god). Similarly, the Faros of ancient Egypt also legitimized their kingships in same manner.
Above are the examples out of ancient times. In the medieval times, Catholic Church happened to have effective political control over virtually whole of Europe. And Church also legitimized its political control by manipulating the religious beliefs of people. Japan’s monarchy is among the most ancient monarchies of world. To obey or to give best of respect to Japan’s Emperor is actually included in the beliefs of Shinto religion i.e. the dominant religion of Japan. So the authority of Emperor had ever been unquestionable in Japan. If authority is ‘unquestionable’ it means that authority is ‘legitimate’.
Dictators of contemporary world also try to legitimize their authority on religious grounds. In our country, Gen. Zia’s referendum was the most direct attempt to use religion with the view to get legitimate authority. Kings of Saudi Arabia call themselves ‘Khademein-e-Harmain Sharifain’. On the other hand they are ready to hand over all their affairs to Americans but still they need to have somewhat legitimacy in the eyes of Muslim population as well as in the eyes of other Muslim countries. Very ironical reality is that after the second world war, it happened to be only Arab countries which have lost their territories in wars and have been unable to re-gain those territories. Other exception may be Afghanistan.
Gen. Musharraf has legitimized himself in a different way. At very first instance, he came up with his ‘seven point agenda’ (note this is another form of ‘ideological agenda’). In this way, he successfully legitimized his authority in the eyes of upper and middle, educated class of country. Secondly, he got the chance of legitimizing himself internationally by accepting a crucial role in the so-called ‘war against terrorism’.
In the same way, USA also is in need to show its commitment to such ‘ideological agenda’, which should have some appeal to other major countries. USA’s one such ‘ideological agenda’ is the slogan of ‘global peace’. The slogan of this ‘global peace’ should be heeded in depth. Throughout the known history, humans have been divided in many political groups. Those groups always have been in the state of military wars with other groups. World, in its whole history, never have experienced any effective ‘international law’. Here I would like to refer to the ideas of Bertrand Russell who considered the absence of any international law as ‘international anarchy’. He put forwarded these views just after the end of Second World War. By that time, the whole world was quite fed up of continuing international wars. Although the world was divided in two major power blocks but still then both these blocks did not want to indulge themselves in any physical war. Both these power groups were in NEED to set up some international peace forum where they could settle their routine disputes without involving themselves in major physical wars. So the emergence of ‘effective’ United Nations was the need of the day. After it, the world also experienced the so-called ‘cold war’. It was generally anticipated that the ultimate consequence of this cold war would be more dangerous because any major war between such two powerful groups could end up in massive scale atomic war, which might result in complete destruction of contemporary human civilization or even humanity as a whole. So in those days, Bertrand Russell was one of the main proponents of the idea of uni-polar world regime. He elaborated this idea in details in his writings. His point of view was something like that to end up the prevalent fear of complete destruction of humanity as a whole; the world should organize itself under the leadership of a single super power country. That single super power country should possess complete monopoly in the possession of world’s main military assets. That super power country should act like a world policeman with the view to enforce a uniform universal law.
While comparing USA and USSR, Russell’s opinion went in the favor of USA as a ‘better’ international policeman. Russell took the side of USA on such grounds that USA was the supporter of such ideas as ‘freedom of thought’, ‘equality’ etc. as compared to USSR.
On this question that how actually the whole world could organize itself under a single leadership, Russell’s reply was that it could happen either as a result of another world war or it could happen as a result of agreement between the then two major power blocks. Russell could not survive to see how it actually has happened but it is a fact that it has happened in whatever way.
Now USA’s practical role is not different to what Russell assigned to his ideal single super power. Meaning of ‘global peace’ is that if all the alphabets are considered to be all the countries of world where ‘U’ would stand for USA, then country ‘A’ should not fight war with country ‘B’ or ‘M’. Similarly country ‘P’ also should not fight war with country ‘X’ or ‘Z’. In this ideal ‘global peace’, only country ‘U’ should fight wars with any other country. And country ‘U’ should fight wars with other countries with the view to ensure that other countries may not fight wars against each other.
In this way if country ‘U’ punishes country ‘M’ then it would NOT go against the basic idea of ‘global peace’. But the underlying purpose of ‘global peace’ is preservation of human civilization and humanity as a whole. So in case country ‘U’ punishes any other country in such a way which would become a serious threat to the preservation of human civilization and humanity as a whole, then at this point country ‘U’ would be crossing its those limits which were acceptable to all the other major countries. At this point, other countries MUST stop the hands of USA.
And yes just like USA, other major nations also believe in ‘human rights’ not in its true essence but just in the form of a clever slogan. If USA violates ‘human rights’ in Afghanistan or in Iraq, other major nations shall not take any serious notice of these cruelties. In these cases, the aggrieved nations should try to promote the idea of ‘human rights’ in its true essence. At some point, other nations would feel guilty over their present negligence.