Cross-posted from Paul Craig Roberts
Murky side of exceptionalism: US military footprint all over Arab world
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VOR: How true is the spreading belief that President Obama has ruined US foreign policy, and how does it actually work? The Voice of Russia is discussing it with Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the US Treasury, currently the chairman of The Institute for Political Economy.
VOR: The US media is pointing to a growing dissatisfaction with President Obama's foreign policy, both among Republicans and Democrats. Speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's conference in Washington, Sen. Ted Cruz said, "Abroad, we see our foreign policy collapsing and every region in the world is getting more and more dangerous." According to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll has registered an increasing lack of faith in the president and his leadership, with 58 percent of Americans disapproving of the way Obama is handling foreign policy. What is it that makes Americans unhappy?
Paul Craig Roberts: Well, I think, perhaps, Americans are catching on to all of the lies. There are now other sources of information, other than the English-speaking Western media. And the account that the US gives, for example, of Ukraine is clearly a lie. And it takes a while before people catch on to the lies. I don't think the majority will ever catch on, but enough will.
And then many Americans who are dissatisfied would be dissatisfied for domestic economic reasons. They would want the resources wasted on wars to be allocated to domestic needs and not used to pay for more wars. For example, the Iraq crisis has come back and there is so much talk about sending troops to the Baltics, eastern Europe in order to guard against the "Russian threat."
So, this alarms people who've had no income growth, who can't find a job, suffer from heavy debts from borrowed money to attend the universities, cut-backs of unemployment compensation, the threats to the social security system, the threats to the public medical system (which is not much of a system, but still some people rely on it). So, most Americans, when they see more trouble abroad involving more wars, understand that the wars mean more economic hardship for them. The US has been in war for 13 years. It's wasted trillions of dollars and achieved no result. And so, this is probably the main reason that people are dissatisfied, because they are suffering here for the sake of wars in which they no longer believe.
VOR: But what exactly is the rationale behind the never-ending wars?
PCR: There are several reasons that are mutually supportive. One is that the neoconservative ideology came to full power with the collapse of the Soviet Union. And this ideology says that history has chosen the US to prevail all over the world, that there is no alternative to the American political and economic system, and that this choice by history gives the US the responsibility to exercise hegemony over the entire world.
So, this is a very powerful ideology, a more powerful ideology than the US has ever before had. And it comes at a time when other ideologies are gone. The communist ideology is gone, the Marxist revolutionary movements are gone. And so, it leaves the US dominating on the ideological level.
Another reason is the military-security complex. It is an amazingly large and powerful private interest group with government elements, such as all the security agencies -- the CIA, Homeland Security, FBI, the Pentagon. And it absorbs hundreds of billions of dollars, probably close to one trillion dollars annually.
And this money is very important to this interest group. Some of the taxpayers' money is recycled, it comes back to Congress, it comes back to presidential candidates, as political campaign contributions, thus ensuring their elections and reelections. So, this is a second very strong force -- a material interest that is very much benefited by wars and a threat of wars.
And the third very powerful interest group is the Israel lobby. Most of the neoconservatives are Jewish ethnics. Many of them are Israeli-US citizens. Almost all of them are closely tied to Israel. And so, the neoconservative ideology of American hegemony fits in very well with the 13 years of wars in the ME, because these wars also serve a subsidiary interest of disposing of the Arab states that are not aligned with the US and Israel, and that could serve as a check on Israeli policy or Israeli expansion in the ME.
So, these three come together, they are all mutually supportive and in many ways it is the same people. The neoconservatives are the same as the Israel lobby. The officials in the Pentagon, in the State Department, they are also neoconservatives. So, it is a very strong three-part foundation that holds together.
VOR: So, you are saying that the policy is largely defined by an Israeli lobby. But the US policies in the ME actually endanger Israel.
PCR: Yes, this is an unintended consequence of the policy. Some analysts tried to warn the neoconservatives that the borders in the ME are artificial, like the ones in Africa that were drawn up by the European colonists, principally the English and the French.
So, you have countries in which you have Shia majorities and Sunni minorities, and then you have countries in which there is a reverse, Sunni majorities and Shia minorities. And this is like the African boundaries that were drawn bringing into the same country two warring tribes, who traditionally were enemies. So, the boundaries of the states don't make a lot of sense. The boundaries could only have been drawn by ignorant Westerners.