Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, University of Tokyo
In his legendary inaugural address in 1961, U.S. president John F. Kennedy challenged U.S. citizens by the following phrase “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
60 years later, President Biden’s speech on August 16 effectively notified U.S. allies not to ask what U.S. can do for them and do what they can do for their country, in order to keep their relationship with U.S.
What was made clear is the new dictum that “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war” if American allies are not willing to fight for themselves.
That message, like a shockwave, is quietly reverberating in the mind of policy makers of the U.S. allies all over the world. For the U.S. allied nations, now the time for reflection and introspection.
In the past 80 years of the American century, U.S. troops fought many wars for the sake of freedom. The consent and will of the people who were on the side of the U.S. were often taken for granted.
The unmatched U.S. might and its resolve to lead on the world stage tended to result in giving birth to innumerous spoiled children on the side of the U.S. allies whose relationship with the U.S. gave them disproportionate opulence and easily degenerated into one-way overreliance. Their indulgence in favorable treatment given to them by the U.S. often impaired thier ability to stand on their own foot.
American overseas intervention produced so many spoiler-spoiled relationship all over the world. Unhealthy relationships cause resentment among the people who are not directly benefited. Sometimes, the more U.S. pour resources into a relationship, the more deteriorate the relationship, since for the spoiled children, all favors are taken for granted and there is no impetus to stand independent.
Mr. Biden’s decision was to cut the Gordian Knot of this spoiler-spoiled relationship in its worst case.
U.S. allied nations should have been reassessing their relations with the U.S. and try to remove any resemblances of overreliance, lest they become the next ally to be ditched.
They will seriously check the U.S. credibility.
In the end, there would not be a domino effect to most of the existing U.S. alliances. Major U.S. allies like NATO nations or Japan are, overall, assets for U.S., not liabilities. Without the help of those major allied nations, U.S. cannot maintain its global stature, which is now indispensable part of the U.S. way of life for which U.S. troops have fought.