[Answered]The leadership provided by the USA in shaping the global order post WW2 is somewhat on a decline. Discuss various reasons for the declining power of the U.S. and its implications for India.

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual Introduction.

Body. What are various reasons for the declining power of the U.S.? Discuss its implications for India.

Conclusion. Way forward.

American decline is a term used to describe the diminishing power of the United States geopolitically, militarily, financially, economically. Recently it was reported that worldwide approval of U.S. leadership has plunged from 48% in 2016 to a record low of 30% in 2018, in part due to the increasingly isolationist stance of America.

Reasons for the declining power of the U.S.:

  1. Economic decline: The economic rise of developing economies and China which will be the largest economy by 2030, this has led to a decline in the economic power of the USA. With manufacturing bases shifted to China, economic power of U.S. is declining.
  2. Rise of BRICS: For at least a decade, it has been debated whether the global center of power and leadership is gradually shifting away from the ‘declining’ West towards ‘rising’ powers like the BRICS and what consequences this may have for global order, governance and leadership. China’s challenging U.S. for global predominance constitutes the core part of the debate over the American decline. Further, India is another emerging economy creating a multi-polar world.
  3. Asian Century: In the coming years, Asian economies will become larger than the rest of the world combined in PPP terms, for the first time since the 19th century.More importantly, it is also coalescing as a constructive force for global governance.
  4. Wars: The costs of the Bush-Obama wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now estimated to run as high as $4.4 trillion. The 2018 military budget, almost matching that of the rest of the world combined is higher in real terms than at any time since World War II and is slated to go even higher. The deficit crisis is largely manufactured as a weapon to destroy hated social programs on which a large part of the population relies.
  5. Failure of institutions: International bodies dominated by US like WTO, IMF are failing. A lack of leadership or consensus hampers the much-needed reform of global institutions such as the WTO, IMF and UN. But meanwhile, Asia has become the locus for new multilateral initiatives. This is evident in new trade pacts and institutions such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) etc.
  6. Diplomacy failure: American diplomacy has been essential to multinational agreements on trade, climate, regional security and arms control. But withdrawal from important institutions like UNESCO has eroded its influence.
  7. Rise of Middle-East Asia: The power shifts are increasingly visible. In the Middle East, the U.S. hoped for decades to isolate Iran and weaken the regime. Iran remains an increasingly assertive and influential power in the region, defending and promoting its interests and competing with the Saudi regime. Turkey is another rising regional power, acts increasingly independent of the preferences of the U.S., its NATO ally, playing its own hand in the regional power game.

Its implications for India:

Economic growth:

●        Current global economic order will be dismantled. Thus it provides India to boost its exports and imports impacting its economic growth.

●        As the focus is moving to other rising powers, especially in Asia, it is an opportunity for India. The make in India is a right step in this direction.

China rise:

●        The rise of China as a South Asian and Indian Ocean power will challenge India’s ambitions in the region.

●        China has already displaced India as the top trading partner of some South Asian states (such as Bangladesh), and it is fast narrowing the trade gap with India in others (such as Nepal).

Rise of India:

●        By giving India a stake in the American world order, the United States will be able to shape India’s choices, even in the absence of a formal alliance between the nations.

●        For example, the LEMOA will give India access to American military facilities in the Indian Ocean (Diego Garcia) and East Asia (Guam).

●        This is significant in the context of India’s Act East policy (which makes relations with East Asia neighbours a foreign policy priority) and its strategic foray into East Asia.

Influence in South Asia:

●        China’s influence in South Asia/Indian Ocean states surrounding India will further increase as China’s One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR) takes off, even if this takes 10 to 15 years.

●        India’s quest for regional primacy will be a significant challenge for Indian diplomacy and will be tested on a case-by-case basis across different policies and issues.

Relation with other US allies:

●        With US decline India would need the support of other countries.

●        India is likely to work in coordination with the United States and its friends and partners in East Asia, most notably Japan.

Pakistan Influence:

●        With the decline of US, India will find it difficult to put pressure on Pakistan through lobbying in the US.

●        Further rise of China, will further strengthen Pakistan whom China supported from starting.

Better India-China relations:

●        Emerging India and declining US will create uncertainty in China, especially as India emerges as the 3rd largest global economy over the next decade behind China and the United States.

●        While such uncertainty will have to be diplomatically managed to prevent any undue Chinese fears, it may contribute to more cooperative Chinese behaviour in the years ahead.

●        It will encourage China to take India more seriously in Asian strategic affairs.


Although the United States supports the rise of India, and US-India relations have come a long way since the end of the Cold War, US role as superpower has considerably declined. Ultimately, India’s ability to emerge at the top of the regional hierarchy in South Asia/Indian Ocean region will be a function of its ability to rapidly expand its economy while integrating its neighbours through infrastructure, trade, and investment links.

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