Moon of Alabama — May 31, 2017
For decades the U.S. foreign policy elite and its presidents played the farce of an altruistic United States that acts for the global good and in the interest of humanity.
That was always a lie. Wherever one took a deeper look the U.S. acted solely in its (perceived) self interests. But the rhetoric helped to drag others along. Tributary governments could pretend they worked for the “universal good” when they in fact just followed orders from Washington DC. U.S. pressure was applied behind the curtain – through bribes, threats of revealing private secrets or -if necessary- via well managed “democratic” coups.
Those times are over. Thanks to the honesty of the Trump administration the foremost positions of hard U.S interests and deadly threats are now openly declared fundamentals of U.S. foreign policy.
The neo-conservative chaperone in the White House, National Security Advisor General McMaster, and the Goldman Sachs veto holder in the White House, economic advisor Gary Cohn, penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that reveals the new true face of the U.S. empire:
The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a “global community” but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage. We bring to this forum unmatched military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.
Translation: “Power is with the strong. We feel strong. Screw you!”
At every stop in our journey, we delivered a clear message to our friends and partners: Where our interests align, we are open to working together to solve problems and explore opportunities. We let adversaries know that we will not only take their measure, deter conflict through strength, and defend our interests and values, but also look for areas of common interest that allow us to work together. In short, those societies that share our interests will find no friend more steadfast than the United States. Those that choose to challenge our interests will encounter the firmest resolve.
From now on the U.S. will only engage in selective, temporary friendships: “Where our interests align”, and only there, will the U.S. be friendly because it obviously serves U.S. interests. Wherever a country deviates from that, even partially, it will “encounter the firmest resolve.” That is as clear a threat as it can be.
The threat was there before but it was applied silently. When the then German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle voted against the war on Libya at the UN Security Council, the Obama administration launched a local media campaign against him (through U.S. stooges), that devastated his party in the following election. Most people in Germany did not recognize the campaign for what it was. It was hidden behind “human rights” talk, “democracy” fluff and “winning” in Libya. But the U.S. induced campaign against Westerwelle happened, was successful and was a lesson to other local party leaders to stay in line with U.S. demands.
The more honest Trump approach brings such threats out into the open. It is now clear that the U.S. follows only its interests – exclusively, and that it will apply the utmost pressure on whatever party disagrees with it in this or that case.
Such behavior may work well in relations with the dimwit dictators of Saudi Arabia or Qatar. But voters in democracies do not like it when their politicians cave over the demands of a Donald Trump, or any other such egoist. They will demand accountability. Local politician talk about “doing our share in the global community” will no longer pamper over sycophantic behavior towards unjust U.S. requests to further its interests. Voters will insist on opposition to unjust demands and will be willing to bear the consequences.
Trump is likely to find that this openly brutal foreign policy approach, without the warm and fluffy, pseudo-altruistic marketing of an Obama administration, will not work very well. He can hardly invade Spain should it decline to put pressure on Venezuela. No country will sign on to new sanctions against Iran should such a demand come with open threats. Self-determination and justice are too strong motivators to be overcome with pure boorishness.
The McMaster/Cohn op-ed ends with this:
America First signals the restoration of American leadership and our government’s traditional role overseas—to use the diplomatic, economic and military resources of the U.S. to enhance American security, promote American prosperity, and extend American influence around the world.
That is a lonesome approach and it is unlike to enhance, promote and extend anything but disdain for the U.S. But it may well be the line it will follow over the coming years.
If this is the end of the U.S. empire that evolved from World War II it is at least an honest one.