Reprinted from Consortium News
Crashing global stock markets -- punctuated by the bracing 1,000-plus point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the start of Monday's trading before a partial bounce-back -- are a reminder about the interdependence of today's world economy and a wake-up call to those who think that the neocon-driven ideology of endless chaos doesn't carry a prohibitively high price.
The hard truth is that there is a limit to the amount of neocon-induced trouble that the planet can absorb without major dislocations of the international economic system -- and we may be testing that limit now. The problem is that America's neocons and their liberal interventionist sidekicks continue to put their ideological priorities ahead of what's good for the average person on earth.
In other words, it may make sense for some neocon think tank or a "human rights" NGO to demand interventions via "hard power" (military action) or "soft power" (economic sanctions, propaganda or other non-military means). After all, neocon think tanks raise money from self-interested sectors, such as the Military-Industrial Complex, and non-governmental organizations always have their hands out for donations from the U.S. government or friendly billionaires.
But the chaos that these neocons and liberal interventionists inflict on the world -- often justified by claims about "democracy promotion" and "human rights" -- typically ends up creating conditions of far greater horror than the meddling was meant to stop.
For instance, the Islamic State butchers and their former parent organization, Al Qaeda, are transforming Iraq and Syria into blood-soaked killing fields. But the neocons and liberal hawks still think the higher priority was and is to eliminate the relatively stable and prosperous dictatorships of Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Syria's Bashar al-Assad.
There is always a fixation about getting rid of some designated "bad guy" even if the result is some "far-worse guys." This has been a pattern repeated over and over again, from Libya to Sudan/South Sudan to Ukraine/Russia to Venezuela (just to name a few). In such cases, we see the neocons/liberal hawks release a flood of propaganda against some unpleasant target (Libya's Muammar Gaddafi/Sudan's Omar al-Bashir/Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovych/Russia's Vladimir Putin/Venezuela's Hugo Chavez or Nicolas Maduro) followed by demands for "regime change" or at least punishing economic sanctions.
Anyone who tries to provide some balance to offset the propaganda is denounced as a "(fill-in-the-blank) apologist" and pushed out of the room of acceptable debate. Then, with no one in Official Washington left to challenge the "group think," the only question is how extreme should the punishment be -- direct military assault (as in Iraq, Libya and Syria), a political coup d'etat (as in Ukraine and almost in Venezuela) or economic sanctions (as in Russia and Sudan).
For many Americans trying to do international business, it can be confusing as to where the legal lines are, who is or who isn't on some black list, what kinds of transactions are allowed or forbidden. I know of one counselor who helps people overcome stuttering who had to reject Skype lessons with a prospective patient in Iran because it wasn't clear whether that might violate the draconian U.S. sanctions regime.
Spreading the Chaos
Arguably some narrowly focused sanctions against a particularly nefarious foreign leader might make sense. Even a limited military intervention might not upset the entire world's economy. But the proliferation of these strategies has combined to destabilize not just the targeted regimes but nations far from the front lines and is now contributing to global economic chaos.
In tracing these patterns, you can go back in time to such misguided fiascos as the CIA's huge covert operation in Afghanistan in the 1980s (which gave rise to the Taliban and Al Qaeda). However, for argument's sake, let's start with the neocon success in promoting President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003. Not only did that war divert more than $1 trillion in U.S. taxpayers' money from productive uses into destructive ones, but it began a massive spread of chaos across the Middle East.
Add in President Barack Obama's 2011 "humanitarian" interventions in Libya (via Western bombing operations to topple Muammar Gaddafi's regime) and in Syria (via covert support for rebels and sanctions against President Assad's government) -- and you have two more Mad Max scenarios in two once relatively prosperous Arab states.
These human catastrophes have sent waves of refugees crashing into other Mideast countries and into Europe where the European Union was already stumbling economically, still trying to recover from Wall Street's 2007-08 financial crisis. After tasting the bitter medicine of austerity for years, Europeans now find their fairly generous welfare systems stretched to the breaking point by refugees seeking asylum.
Having just returned from a visit to Europe, I was struck by the intensity of feelings about the refugee crisis. Some EU nations are throwing up anti-migrant barriers while everyone seems to be squabbling over who should foot the bill at a time when there are financial crises in Greece and other southern-tier countries, which coincidentally are bearing the brunt of the refugee problem.
Toss into this volatile mix of a Europe seemingly close to explosion the Obama administration's "neocon/liberal interventionist" policies toward Ukraine, where neocon holdover Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland helped orchestrate a 2014 coup to remove democratically elected President Yanukovych after he was demonized in the U.S. mainstream media as corrupt.