Reflecting on the last 70 years of my lifetime I must conclude during this period our world has often been influenced by American-, but also Russian- exceptionalism under the assumption “might makes right.”
During this period the US has been long the leading power among the free nations which led in 1948 under President Truman not only to the creation of NATO, but also to the creation of the UN, IMF, World bank and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which spelled out the framework for holding governments accountable for violation basic standard of civilization followed in 1951 by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.
We have moved towards a world in which international relationships are based on International Law and for the relationship between EU, Russia and US this was also influenced by the 1975 Helsinki Final Act and the 1990 Charter of Paris for New Europe. I conclude the US has primarily been a source for good committed to liberty, justice and peace.
However, I cannot avoid observing that during my lifetime I have also witnessed how the US started or was involved in 5 different wars: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq I, Afghanistan and Iraq II which they had difficulty finishing or were not able to finish, whereby its remarkable that since 1992 the US was involved in 180+ military conflicts.
America’s military has over 800 bases worldwide, more than any other nation or empire in history. In order to staff, equip, and maintain this body, the U.S. spends more on defense than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, and France combined with the Pentagon having a $674.6 billion spending bill for fiscal year 2019. Thereby ignoring that “history has shown that all great powers go under when their military spending becomes unsustainable.”
Not surprisingly the world has also witnessed American adventurism, often based on the policy of regime-change, supported by the UK and sometimes reluctantly reinforced by the EU. Over time the results of regime-change strategy have shown themselves as to be a partial bankrupt strategy.
To be sure, Russia played its part and although Russia likes to play being victimized by the West, especial accusing the European elite, conveniently ignoring Stalin’s 1939 pact with Hitler under which Poland was invaded and the 40 year long occupation of the former Warsaw pact countries.
We have witnessed Russian adventurism in Hungary, Afghanistan, Georgia, Ukraine and other places which have resulted in repression and in enormous destructive exercises in futility, like all conflicts and war do. In all of this the conclusion can only be that NATO has brought security and stability to Europe and has limited aggressive escalation by Russia.
With Bush43 and under the influence of the Neoconservatives came the suggestion “American greatness is measured by their willingness to be a great power—through vast and virtually unlimited global military involvement.” The preference for Pre-emptive strikes was at the basis of Neocons beliefs which led to the Iraq war, regime change in Afghanistan and Libya and attempted change in Syria, with Iran next on the Agenda.
This led Bush43 to proclaim “the new system in the world today is rested on American Primacy.” The National Security paper central assertion was all but expunges the instinctive internationalization of Roosevelt and Truman. Concluding America’s global power must not be challenged.
As Woodrow Wilson said during WW I, “There is one response for us, force, force to the utmost, force without stint or limit, the righteous and triumphant force which shall make right the law of the world”.
US administrations have lived by the sword and understand that total victory in war commands total obedience from the defeated and opens a way to unhindered realization of political and economic objectives.
Looking at our modern 21st Society, we cannot avoid the conclusion that the US and Britain have greatly contributed to the changes in the Middle East like we have done everywhere in the World and have influenced and changed its social face. The decolonization of Northern Africa and the Middle East first played a role, but with this came further destabilization of the region, National militants, a destructive Marxist ideology and ultimately these developments led to links and inclusion into the World capitalist systems.
British and American foreign policy based on American primacy has also played a major role in the destabilization of the Arab peninsula, as did Arab Nationalism during the last seventy years.
In recent years during the Obama Presidency the tone was more civilized but the strategy was the same. Today we see the result of catastrophic American and British diplomacy in the Middle East and elsewhere since the early 1950’s.
The main events often influenced by Israeli and oil interests can be characterized as follows:
- support for the house of Saud and Wahhabism indirectly;
- overthrowing in 1953 the Government of Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran;
- full support to the Wahhabi’s during 1979-1989 in Afghanistan, when the Mujahidin were employed, financed and armed just like Osama Bin Laden was;
- Israel/Palestine conflict;
- Iraq war; Afghanistan war leading to IS;
- US/EU adventurism including “regime change” in Libya, Syria and the Ukraine;
- support for authoritarians in the region, relocations US Embassy to Jerusalem, cancellation Iran agreements and John Bolton’s recent suggestion “The only thing that will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons is regime change in Tehran.”.
The US strategy of “regime change” found its first victim in Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh during the CIA coup of 1953 in Iran which restored to power the Shah Pahlavi, which is still a highly resented step which ultimately led to the 1979 Revolution and the return of Ayatollah Khomeini, which effects are still is felt today.
This continued with the best intentions in Vietnam, liberty and freedom is a worthy cause but nevertheless the results have been rather disturbing. The attempts at “Regime Change” have brought destructive and disastrous results to the World (Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Chili, Nicaragua, Serbia, Iraq, Libya.) This in turn has stimulated the rise of terrorist groups and resulted in great instability in the greater Middle East Region with the sole purpose of strengthening the dominant position of Israel and support the Israel strategy towards a greater Israel.
In all of this the Palestinian question still plays a major role which made for war and oppressive conservatism. Israel intransigence, the occupied territories, the war crimes continue to give the most extreme elements the advantage.
How Lebanon was destroyed was the result of the whole dynamics.
US support for Iran during the Iran/Iraq war was ill advised, as was the support for the House of Saud and Wahhabism in general, this fundamentalist and radical ultra conservative movement which was employed, financed and armed in the 1980’s , during the Russian/Afghanistan 1979-1989 proxy war, like Osama bin Laden was. After having been used for US purposes Osama bin Laden became a problem of their own making.
Additional “regime-change” wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have all played a significant role in creating the present extremist environment of which Islam Society is as much victimized as Western Society is.
The conclusion can only be that unless we take away the reasons for Al Qaida, ISIS and other extremist group, new terrorist Groups will replace the old ones.
I was therefore touched when Foreign Secretary Kerry lectured the world “we do not live in the 19th century but in the 21st century.”
How ironic this statements of Secretary Kerry was at the time or did he think the world has amnesia?
I wouldn’t mind hearing how the country that invaded Iraq, Afghanistan and attacked Libya; threatens Iran with an attack, while it uses drones to kill people in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen and holds military exercises near China justifies this. I do not see the justification for starting another proxy war, not in the least, and over time the US invaded pretty much every Central American country to facilitate the policy of regime change, when they didn’t like where there politics were going in countries like in Panama and Granada.
Our world has become multi-polar in the 21st century with the economic rise of China the US should understand that today pragmatic realism is required, abandoning its uni-polar ideas and return to the concept of dealing with China, Russia and the World in a more balanced manner, instead of acting aggressively towards them.
William J J Houtzager