Blowback: Why Regime Change Catalyzes Anti-Americanism and Why It Won’t Work in a Multipolar World (Marcellus Policy Analysis)

By Thomas Cunningham, Fall 2023 Marcellus Policy Fellow

The actions the United States took during its unipolar moment inadvertently fostered a unified front of anti-Americanism in the Global South. The Cold War-era strategy of covertly intervening in non-aligned and allied countries catalyzed a shift towards multi-alignment and hedging strategies, contributing to the ascent of emerging powers. This development has been instrumental in cultivating a multipolar world, a stark contrast to the intended unification under U.S. hegemony. In essence, America’s efforts to consolidate global leadership by toppling reticent governments in the global periphery inadvertently laid the groundwork for a world increasingly inclined towards multipolarity.

The era of decolonization made evident the parallels between American foreign policy and the historical practices of colonialism. This shift turned anti-colonial sentiments into anti-American ones, especially in regions and countries that endured covert interventions or political pressure from the United States. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States rose as the unchallenged superpower, a position many in the Global South view reminiscent of the European colonial empires of the past. This sentiment is especially prevalent in places that have directly experienced American involvement in their internal affairs.

The 2022 ousting of Prime Minister Imran Khan in Pakistan and his allegations of American involvement, have not only stirred the political landscape of Pakistan but also significantly fueled anti-American sentiments in the region. The case of Pakistan today is demonstrative of how repeating America’s Cold War-era covert meddling (or being perceived as doing so) can bring American adversaries closer together and ultimately sow the seeds for multipolarity.