Skip to main content

It's Time for a Geopolitical Reset


 

  • mil

08/28/2020

Foreign policy seems to have been placed on the back burner in the Trump era. Domestic issues, generic outrage politics, and the present covid-19 pandemic have sucked the oxygen out of American political discourse.

The fact that the media opts to cover more sensationalist material does not make foreign policy a trivial matter. If anything, the lack of foreign policy coverage reveals the dilapidated state of contemporary political debate. When the Fourth Estate does bother to broach foreign policy it does so for the most hysterical reasons.

The ongoing Russian hysteria is the embodiment of the media's infantile coverage of foreign policy. Although the Cold War has been over for decades, pundits on both the left and right remain convinced that Russia—a country of nearly 145 million and with an economic output smaller than Canada's—is hell-bent on reenacting its past Cold War aspirations.

Iran has always been on neoconservatives' minds as well. Suffering from the trauma of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, neoconservatives and their establishment liberal counterparts have spent decades slapping on sanctions and trying to push for regime change in Iran. Earlier this year, the neoconservative bloodthirst was partially quenched after the US government assassinated Major General Qasem Soleimani at the Baghdad Airport. In a surprising display of restraint, the Trump administration has not escalated any further in Iran and potentially thrust America into another disastrous intervention. Had Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush been at the helm, God knows where the US would find itself.

The global crusading has been cranked up to another level by provoking the Chinese government in the South China Sea and prodding into China's internal affairs. From its repression of ethnic Uighurs in the Xinjiang region to its steps to consolidate power over Hong Kong, China's internal affairs have been subject to scrutiny from the West. Reasonable people can recognize that China, despite making some pragmatic reforms in the 1980s, is still a repressive regime. But does this merit a potential escalation in the South China Sea or worse yet, a full-blown kinetic conflict?

Based on the fact that both China and the US are nuclear powers, cooler heads will likely prevail. But the fact that policymakers are entertaining the idea of risking a catastrophic conflict shows that politicians' thirst for war and regime change destabilization has not gone away. Such delusions are the province of an empire in an inebriated state that prevents it from making rational judgments.

Why American Foreign Policy Is Due for a Correction

Frankly, it's time to start talking about a geopolitical reset. A reorientation of American foreign policy priorities is long overdue. There are approximately two hundred thousand American troops in close to eight hundred bases in seventy countries stationed abroad.

According to American University anthropology professor David Vine, it costs taxpayers $85–100 billion per year to operate overseas military bases. Meanwhile, the decades-long war on terror has cost Americans $5.9 trillion and has led to the deaths of 6,951 American troops and at least 244,000–266,000 civilians in the Middle East. As of 2020, US defense spending stands at more than $732 billion—a figure higher than the next ten countries' military budgets put together.

The Unipolar Moment Is Dead

Thanks to the US's location and vast nuclear arsenal, it is relatively safe from external threats despite all the fearmongering coming from the interventionist crowd. It's becoming clear that the missionary model of exporting democracy abroad is a failure.

Nonetheless, foreign policy hawks have remained adamant about pursuing regime change in Iran through stiff sanctions, saber rattling, and drawing first blood. We shouldn't forget that US government meddling in the region goes deep. This all started when the CIA and British intelligence launched a successful coup against the populist leader Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953, resulting in the installation of the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Following the shah's deposition in the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the US has seen Iran as one of its primary foes. Increased sanctions starting in the 1980s, combined with additional sanctions imposed in each decade, have only increased tensions. Not to mention the heightened military presence that encircles the country, which has compelled Iran to get crafty in its opposition to US foreign policy. Iran has responded to US regime change attempts not only by filling in the power vacuum that the US left behind after completely decimating Iraq, but also by expanding its operations in Latin America through the establishment of clandestine networks in the region. Though none of the networks pose existential threats to the US, they show the lengths Iran will go to counter US encroachments in its backyard. It is the height of imperial hubris to think that countries will just stand down and let the US steamroll them.

Additionally, increased US hawkishness toward Iran has created the conditions for it to forge alliances with Russia and China—two countries that have also been hit with sanctions and subject to US bullying in the past decade. These ties have only strengthened amid the current covid-19 pandemic. Undoubtedly, Iran won't go down easily and will seek alliances with countries such as China and Russia, who share similar grievances with the zealous nature of American foreign policy.

It's a New World out There

The world's emerging multipolarity allows for countries to band together against a common antagonistic hegemon like the US. As the unipolar era of yore becomes a distant memory, the US can't go throwing its weight around the world without repercussions. Regime change operations in Syria demonstrated that countries such as Iran and Russia are willing to step in to defend their interests regardless of what DC foreign policy wonks think.

Similarly, subtle machinations in Venezuela have seen countries like China, Iran, Russia, and Turkey respond by propping up the regime of the embattled strongman Nicolás Maduro. Any of the US's attempts to try to topple governments it doesn't like will be met with significant pushback. Regime change fanatics in DC can deny this all they want, but it's part of the global realignment unfolding before our eyes.

It is amazing what governments can get away with when they have a printing press at their disposal. We are not getting rid of central banking any time soon, but the US's deluded foreign policy ambitions can still be restrained. At the end of the day, it's a matter of political will.

Policymakers should actually consider the costs of their foreign policy adventures before sending young people off to die in some ill-fated campaign and putting taxpayers—present and future—on the hook for such excursions.

A geopolitical reset that involves scaling back US interventions and its military presence abroad will foster pragmatic foreign policy decisions and the prioritization of actual defense policies. Whether or not American foreign policy leaders will abandon their imperial hubris is another matter.

Author:

Contact José Niño

José Niño is a Venezuelan American freelance writer. Sign up for his mailing list here. Get his e-book The 10 Myths of Gun Control here. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter, or email him here.

https://mises.org/wire/its-time-geopolitical-reset


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Menon meets Karzai, discusses security of Indians

Kabul/New Delhi/Washington, March 5 (IANS) India Friday said that the Feb 26 terror attack in Kabul will not deter it from helping rebuild Afghanistan as National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon met Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul to review the security of around 4,000 Indians working in that country. Menon, who arrived here Friday morning on a two-day visit, discussed with Karzai some proposals to bolster security of Indians engaged in a wide array of reconstruction activities, ranging from building roads, bridges and power stations to social sector projects. The Indian government is contemplating a slew of steps to secure Indians in Afghanistan, including setting up protected venues where the Indians working on various reconstruction projects will be based. Deploying dedicated security personnel at places where Indians work is also being considered. Menon also met his Afghan counterpart Rangin Dadfar Spanta and enquired about the progress in the probe into the Kabul atta

Iran is losing the game to regional actors in its strategic depth

Rethink before It’s Too Late http://www.irdiplomacy.ir/index.php?Lang=en&Page=21&TypeId=15&ArticleId=7108&BranchId=19&Action=ArticleBodyView Iran is losing the game to regional actors in its strategic depth –Afghanistan. By Houman Dolati It is no more a surprise to see Iran absent in Afghanistan affairs. Nowadays, the Bonn Conference and Iran’s contributions to Afghanistan look more like a fading memory. Iran, which had promised of loans and credit worth five-hundred million dollars for Afghanistan, and tried to serve a key role, more than many other countries, for reconstruction and stabilization of Afghanistan, is now trying to efface that memory, saying it is a wrong path, even for the international community. Iran’s empty seat in the Rome Conference was another step backward for Afghanistan’s influential neighbor. Many other countries were surprised with Iran’s absence. Finding out the vanity of its efforts to justify absence in Rome, Iran tried to start its

Pakistani firm whose chemicals were used to kill US troops seeks subsidy for Indiana plant

By Jennifer Griffin, Justin Fishel Published March 22, 2013   A Pakistani fertilizer maker whose chemicals have been used in 80 percent of the roadside bombs that have killed and maimed American troops in Afghanistan is now seeking U.S. taxpayer subsidies in order to open a factory in Indiana.  The request appears to be on hold pending further review, but the situation has stirred outrage in Congress, where some accuse the Pakistani government of halting efforts to clamp down on the bomb-making.  For the past seven years, the U.S. government has known that the raw material calcium ammonium nitrate, or CAN, is making its way across the border into Afghanistan where the Taliban use it to fuel their most deadly weapons, namely the improvised explosive device. IEDs have long been the number one killer of U.S. and coalition troops.  The material largely comes from Pakistani fertilizer maker the Fatima Group. But the Pakistani government has stymied attempts by the Pentagon to stop the