Changes in US administrations, whether they occur quadrennially or extend a full eight years, only have an atmospherics’ impact on foreign relations but seldom, if ever, on foreign policy. At least, that appears to be the case from the time Ronald W. Reagan assumed the presidency (1981) and, more obviously, since Mikhail (Herod Antipas) Gorbachev gifted to (Salome) America the Soviet Union on a silver platter a decade later, as the head of baptismal communism in the Western world.
That foreign policy appears to have been solidly in place for over three decades: a policy that rests on a tripod which makes it irrelevant whether Democrats or Republicans hold the reins of power in the United States. A well-entrenched monolithic public opinion on all foreign policy matters, formed and held in place by an equally monolithic mainstream press, makes the prospect of major change in foreign policy not just highly improbable but bordering on the impossible. And that’s not about to change so long as most Americans continue to feel empire-content.
One leg of that tripod is the adversarial relationship that the United States maintains with Russia. It made little or no difference to US imperial institutions—the Pentagon, the State Department and the Weapons-Industry, that the Soviet Union had imploded and been dismantled. Somehow, it wasn’t quite the same thing as the earlier defeats of Germany and Japan. It was just rational reckoning for Gorbachev to inoculate his “Evil Empire” in an attempt to bring economic sense to Russia and her sister nations; but for America’s hawkish institutions, Russia’s military had been left standing, not destroyed as those of the WWII axis.
In power-avarice and with extreme nearsightedness in its political peripheral vision, the US failed to offer a hand in the transformation of Russia into a strong economic power, a possible first step towards the validation of world peace. Instead, America opted for the de-facto treatment of Russia as a continuing adversary; exerting strong predatory influence on Russia’s neighbors . . . nations that had shared common bonds and common wealth in the recent past. Perhaps that’s the nature of all empires; and the capability in others to challenge one militarily creates anxiety, making them a priori adversaries. Americans are constantly being told that Russia is an adversary . . . and that, not only through linkage to Russia but through his own malevolent merits, Vladimir Putin is a true enfant terrible in world politics—his latest edict being a warning to the US against arming Ukraine. It’s unlikely, however, that Senator McCain’s last hawkish wishes will be granted; the US having its plate full with North Korea’s unsavory stew.
So much for one leg of the tripod; now for the second leg planted in the Middle East.
It’s now fait accompli that the Caliphate, as a geopolitical entity giving Isis more than just a symbolic, esoteric existence has all but disappeared; the fight for its cause now relegated to underground terrorism, whether centrally and professionally dispensed or done in an improvised amateur fashion. The fact remains that militarily, on the field, Isis’ Caliphate has ceased to exist in great part due to an unheralded informal alliance of Syria, Iraq and Iran helped primarily by Russia (as collateral aid in the quest to keep Assad in power); and, to a lesser extent by other players, such as the US.
Although the US military role in the Middle East changed considerably during the two terms of the Obama administration, US foreign policy in this part of the world continues to be the same Israel-centric policy crafted five decades ago after the Six-Day War that gave Israel a decisive victory in mid-1967 over an Arab military alliance headed by Syria and Egypt. Since then, any deviation by anyone in the US from that Israel-centric policy, which may include the slightest criticism of Israel or its people, is quickly branded as anti-Semitic; politicians or other people of prominence being subject to ridicule or condemnation openly . . . while a few are “inquisitionally” tagged for sub-rosa purges (Zenew Zbrizinsky quickly comes to mind as victim in this fashion).
Arabs throughout the world, and that includes the 3.7 million Arab population in the US claimed by the Arab American Institute, still haven’t come to terms with the indelible fact that the Jewish-factor in all its components (political, cultural, social and religious) has an influential impact, merited or not, 5–10–20 times that of other groups . . . on a per capita basis! And that the much-touted one-man one-vote system implies neither fairness nor democracy in a society where power and influence rule. Arabs seeking justice via an honest international arbiter to mediate a two-state solution for Palestine and a lasting peace—not a de facto armistice such as the one now, must open their eyes and look elsewhere, certainly not the United States, to find unbiased brokers that can bring legitimacy to the Middle East peace process, not to vocal nor silent advocates of Israel found in every phase of institutional power which exists in the United States.
A third and final leg of America’s tripod holding its foreign policy treasure chest is the specter of its very own creation, China. It won’t be long before Americans, and the rest of the world, can pass judgment on Nixon-Kissinger’s creation of a high-speed economic vehicle for China, one shortening by three decades or more, that nation’s ascent to the very top of the world’s economic and military power. For now, America can only watch in helplessness her heir’s trajectory, doing so without a proactive plan.
Meantime, the patience of past and present giants, Germany and Japan at the vanguard, is wearing thin having been forced to model their foreign policy and military posture in a way that mirrors their alliance with the US; and that applies to South Korea as well. (We may see a spirited upheaval by these nations in 2018 as they could seek to leave the mantle of protection for one of total self-determination.)
There’s little question that in these seven decades since the end of World War II, and the inherited, or assumed, role as an international superpower, the US has through the years been looking at the world as if through an increasingly fogged-up window. Now those political cataracts, blinding the nation not only in foreign affairs but domestically as well, will either have to be removed before the nation goes blind, or opt for the consequences.
And electing dangerous clowns such as Donald Trump to lead the nation is proving to be no way to prepare it for surgical removal of US’ hypermature cataracts.
Copyright © 2018 Tanosborn
Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.