Washington — The United States has seen a significant loss in coherence in its unity of actions, explaining America’s ineffectiveness in conflicts abroad, said Chester A. Crocker, former assistant Secretary of State at symposium on Wednesday.
“Diplomats should remember they get paid the same for listening as for speaking,” he said to an audience at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).
The symposium was held in light of recent violence in the Middle East, to discuss strategies of conflict resolution and adaptation. At the event, authors and editors of new book, “Managing Conflict in a World Adrift,” discussed America’s role in conflicts abroad.
As the world looks to the White House for authoritative action against Islamic extremists, President Obama announced Wednesday that he is formally lobbying for Congress to allow the continuation of airstrikes against Islamic State. Such strikes have been in effect since last fall.
“I do not believe America’s interests are served by endless war or by remaining on a perpetual war footing,” Obama said in a televised statement from the White House on Wednesday.
However, according to USIP panelists on Wednesday, America’s response to global issues may be misguided and needs adaptation.
The United States is seen by the world to now have less global leverage and influence than the country has ever had, said USIP panelist, Ellen Laipson. She said that this is especially true in the Middle East, where the U.S. tries to play the role of conflict manager.
Counter terrorism action talks in Washington have been growing strong in recent weeks, highlighted by ISIS releasing a video depicting a Jordanian capitve being burned alive. The Obama administration’s course of action comes on the heels of confirmation of the death of Kayla Mueller, 26, an American held by the Islamic State. Both incidents have created tension due to the perceived lack of executive action.
With the rampant violence from groups such as ISIS, there is much deliberation over what role there is for America.
“It’s going to have to get worse before it gets better,” said Crocker in response to what the outlook is for the continuation of global violence.
“We are living in a world adrift, we are seeing the unregulated diffusion of agency and authority and responsibility.”
Laipson advocated that the U.S. has not been a particularly dynamic proponent of United Nations reform and restructuring. Citing that there is so much goodwill in the United States to contribute productively to the world’s problems, but we are in an awkward readjustment of power relationships between the U.S. and the rest of the world.
Crocker noted that globally, governments are playing defense and societies are playing offense, with America not being an exception. There is a growing distrust between the American government and society, he said. “It explains why these conflicts go on and continue.”
“This period of redefining state-society relationships has not settled down at all,” said Laipson.