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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 10/17/15

American hegemony and incoherence

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Message Jean-Luc Basle

A hegemonic foreign policy is incoherent as it does not distinguish between friends and foes. Washington spies on its allies and it imposes sanctions on Russia which hurt the very same allies. In the Middle East, its destructive policy, which aims at reconciling antonymic objectives, makes it the most hated nation in the world. It results in a massive exodus of people toward neighboring countries, and most recently towards Europe where it produced violent divisions in Germany, France, etc. The effects of this policy shows its incongruity. Russia skillfully uses it to its own advantage. The CIA coup d'etat in Ukraine allowed Putin to annex Crimea after holding a referendum. In Syria, he strengthens his position by fighting Daesh to the great displeasure of the Westerners who accuse him of helping Bashar al-Assad -- a murderous dictator. But who believes Westerners' claim of fighting for human rights and democracy after the destruction of Iraq, Libya and Yemen? This hegemonic policy which originated in the collapse of the Soviet Union, generates a rejection among the nations which suffer from it, and creates the very insecurity it wishes to avoid.

A Hegemonic Credo

Paul Wolfowitz's doctrine declares that the United States must prevent the emergence of a new rival in the world. The goal is phrased differently in the National Security Strategy of 2015 which states, under Barack Obama's signature, that: "The question is never whether America should lead, but how we lead". On the military front, it translates into a new containment policy aimed at isolating Russia and China: NATO's expansion to the East, Marines stationed in Australia, and the Navy pivoting to the Asia/Pacific region. On the political front, it translates into propaganda and systematic demonization of Putin who was branded a new Hitler by Hillary Clinton -- a statement Kissinger objected to in view of its crass ignorance. Finally, on the economic front, it translates into two trade agreements: the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) with Asian countries, excluding China, and the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) with European nations, excluding Russia.

Quite naturally, Russia and China are reacting to this policy. In 2001, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan created the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation -- a strategic alliance directed at NATO. India and Pakistan will join it in 2016. Potentially, it is a powerful alliance with over three billion people (45% of the world population) accounting for 20% of the world's GDP. In July 2014, China, Russia, Brazil, India and South Africa signed the Fortaleza declaration with the objective of challenging the dollar supremacy in commercial and financial transactions. The same year, at the initiative of China, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was created with a view to foster investments and growth in the region. Great-Britain and France agreed to invest in it in spite of the United States' strong objection. Concomitantly, in response to the TPP and TTIP, China is building a huge network of railroads and gas pipelines linking it to Europe and the Middle East. In March 2014, China inaugurated an 11.179 kilometer railroad connecting Chongqing to Duisburg in Germany, christened The New Silk Road. In May 2014, the China National Petroleum Corporation signed an agreement with Gazprom for the delivery of 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas. In April 2015, President Xi Jinping signed an agreement with Pakistan for the construction of an 'economic corridor' linking by road, rail and pipelines Kashgar in the Xinjiang Province to the Gwadar harbor in Pakistan.

Middle Eastern Incoherence

The Middle East is the richest hydrocarbon region in the world as well as the most unstable. It has been the theater of a power struggle since World War I. The rivalry began with the Sykes-Picot Accord of 1916 and took the form of the Quincy Pact in 1945 whereby the United States guaranteed Saudi Arabia's security in exchange for oil. In 1953, a CIA coup d'etat bound Iran to the West, away from the Soviet Union. In 1956, after the botched Franco-British expedition to the Suez Canal, the United States permanently set foot in the region. They had three main allies: Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Shah's repressive and absurdly pretentious policy caused his downfall and the unexpected establishment of a Shiite regime in 1979. This Western meddling prompted some Arab leaders to try to free themselves of Western domination. The Baath Party was created in 1947 to this end. Saddam Hussein used it to seize power in Iraq. Meanwhile, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to be bogged down in never-ending discussions and sporadic and violent conflicts in spite of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

If an Arab union ever materialized, it would be a threat to American interests in the region and to Israel's security. These two countries joined forces to confront it. Progressively, a symbiosis of their foreign policies took place. Documents such as "Rebuilding America's Defenses" or "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for the Realm" attest to it. For Richard Perle, the second document's main writer, Syria, Iraq and Iran are the gravest menace to Israel's security. The collapse of the Soviet Union convinced neoconservatives that the time had come to act. The 9/11 attack gave them the opportunity to do so. In the days following the attack, some senators pleaded with the President to attack Iraq even though there was no link connecting the two. Saddam Hussein who benefited from Western support in his war against Iran, then became America's arch enemy. His ill-fated decision to invade Kuwait prompted a strong American response and eventually led to his demise and death. The Iraqi war which was a success, led George W. Bush to claim a thundering "Mission Accomplished" on the USS Abraham Lincoln, but the occupation turned into a disaster. Still, the Clean Break's objective was reached: Iraq will never rise from its ashes, thanks to pro-consul Paul Brenner.

But the matter did not end there. Al-Qaeda, the Islamist group created by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor, to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan, found a new calling in Iraq. They decided to fight the Americans who were found guilty of establishing military bases in Saudi Arabia -- Islam's holly land. Through splits and mutations, Al-Qaeda became the Islamist State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Islamist State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Daesh in Syria. The objective is to establish a caliphate in the Middle East. Its goal is that of the Baath Party; unite Arabs against Westerners but with a vicious religious twist. Daesh is fighting Bashar al-Assad's secular regime which confronts the United States with a dilemma. Their Israeli alliance demands that they do not fight Daesh who wishes to eliminate Bashar al-Assad, one of their enemies. But if Bashar al-Assad falls, Daesh will establish a caliphate -- something neither the United States nor Israel want.

Daesh symbolizes the American foreign policy's incoherence. Brzezinski's initiative was unnecessary. With or without Al-Qaeda, the Soviets would have left Afghanistan, the same way the Americans left Vietnam. In an ironic turn of events, the initiative goes against the Clean Break's objective and leads to an unexpected rapprochement between Russia, Iraq and Iran, potentially damaging US interests in the region. Neoconservatives should know that two nations never share the same vital interests, as demonstrated by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in their book: "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy".

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Former Vice President Citigroup New York (retired) Columbia University -- Business School Princeton University -- Woodrow Wilson School

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