How this conflict will play out remains to be seen. But it is already clear that the US has made some gains, and that the greatest immediate risk – an outright war or a destabilising asymmetrical conflict – has been avoided, at least for now.
Again, however, this is not to suggest that the strategy of pressing one’s relative strengths is always advisable. Excessive reliance on aggressive unilateralism risks dismantling an international architecture that has served US interests well. Moreover, the Trump administration’s actions, if pressed too hard, could force third countries to make choices that run counter to US interests. Witness, for example, some countries’ continued willingness to deepen their economic and financial relationships with China through its “Belt and Road Initiative,” despite US objections.
In the end, aggressive unilateralism is not an approach that can be applied as a general rule. It should be used in a highly selective and infrequent manner, and only after a careful assessment of the costs and benefits. Done right, it can help achieve targeted gains while containing collateral damage. But if it is abused, far-reaching unintended consequences could follow, implying ever-higher costs over time.
Go to link