US Vice President Kamala Harris vowed US commitment to an enduring relationship to Southeast Asia in her ongoing visit to the region. Some analysts noted that the trip was aimed at gathering strength to counter China.
In her speech delivered in Singapore on Tuesday, Harris depicted the US as a staunch defender of the rules-based order and sovereignty of nations in the region. Harris’ promises cannot easily fix a credibility crisis that Washington now faces. At the embarrassing time of the messy Afghan exit, a US commitment to its allies seems flaccid and untrustworthy. The US abandonment in time of need has raised the alarm and prompted some of its allies to start rethinking their belief and dependence on US “global leadership”.
The world has witnessed confusion, violence and desperation at the Kabul airport, even though Biden said he did not see a way out of Afghanistan without “chaos ensuing.” An infant was hoisted over a razor wire fence into the arms of soldiers, and many Afghans who had aided the US were stranded due to the sluggish visa process and told to stay away from the airport. And America’s European allies are frantically picking up their pace to evacuate, while watching the US walk away with delayed coordination and scant communication with them.
The humiliating end of the Afghan war brought the US’ competence into question. Both the Afghan allies and the US’ long-standing partners in Europe were let down by the awfully planned and executed pullout. The European allies, who have relied on American political and military might, have unveiled criticism and challenges against the US. Such a country, which terribly handled the crises it created, is hard to be trusted with its ability to fulfill its commitment.
The US also does not have the will to stay committed to its allies in the ungraceful exit. The allies who have fought with the US for two decades in the war expressed disappointment with the Biden administration’s silence and dishonesty. The US troops left Bagram airfield at night without informing the Afghan commander and Biden had waited 48 hours after the Taliban entered Kabul to speak to any foreign leader. The Biden administration’s plans and moves are nothing more than cold political calculations for their own good. And the European and Afghan allies, abandoned by their “leader,” have to swallow the bitter pill.
Foray, fail and leave. Repeated historical tragedies have indicated that the US does not feel guilty with risking other countries’ destinies to maintain its superiority. With the Afghan withdrawal, the US is shifting its focus from the Middle East to Asia and trying to strengthen its regional presence in Southeast Asia. That’s just an old play under the American hegemonic framework, for its own geopolitical interests and no one else’s.
The Afghan fiasco has shredded the global leadership the US has touted for decades. The US has now earned a reputation of abandoning its responsibility and allies. Though Harris stressed the role of US as a “global leader” to Southeast Asian countries during her trip, the US’ reliability and “leadership” are sinking following betrayals and debacles. And the US’ true intention of maintaining hegemony under the disguise of multilateralism should be clearly seen by the rest of the world.