(MENAFN – Asia Times) It is high time to take stock of the failed US national security policy.
Its calamitous misadventures in the Middle East and the global financial collapse of 2008 dramatically exposed the bankruptcy and failures of the bipartisan establishment consensus. Yet as citizen movements began to transform domestic politics, they have been virtually invisible in foreign policy.
It is time, as we Americans celebrate the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, to question what has been a remarkably narrow debate in this area.
A widely touted hope was that after the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, the United States could regain its previous role as a âmust-have nationâ. We should not fall into the trap. Our national security policies failed Americans long before Trump.
The failures are especially evident in our never-ending wars, exemplified by the debacle in Afghanistan, from which President Joe Biden was finally right to emerge, albeit in the 20th year of war. However, the global war on terrorism continues and generates more terrorists than it kills.
The official National Security Strategy (NSS) statements of the George W Bush, Barack Obama, and Trump administrations all committed the United States to maintaining an army so powerful that it cannot be challenged anywhere.
The Trump administration’s latest NSS statement said the ârevisionist powersâ ââ(Russia and China), not terrorists, were the main threat to our national security. The United States has also embarked on a new nuclear arms race – primarily with ourselves.
While President Biden has been seen as an antidote to Trump’s America First foreign policy by immediately joining the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organization, analysts’ doubts about his commitment to internationalism subsist.
Inflated military budget
The constant militarization of U.S. foreign policy has hampered our ability to respond to the real security challenges that threaten not only our own people, but the entire planet, from catastrophic climate change to a global economy rigged to foster extreme inequality, that corrupt democracy at home and abroad.
Our bloated military budget already constitutes 39% of global military spending, even as vital national imperatives lack funds. President Biden has been rightly criticized by Liberal Democrats in Congress for proposing to increase the defense budget (and myopic criticism by fellow Republicans and Democratic centrists for not increasing it enough). Rarely has the need for a new course been more evident.
An alternative and sane security policy requires first rejecting the idea that the United States faces a choice between isolationism and the old elite consensus.
Progressive reform would start by brushing aside the idea that America is only allowed to use force. We would do well to recognize that although we are a global superpower, it is in the interests of the United States to defend international law. We can best strengthen our security by obeying the law, not standing above it.
Once these principles are broadly established, US leaders can take steps to roll back our failed interventions. Limiting the military role of the United States will require more, not less, international cooperation and much more active diplomacy.
New regional power struggles will inevitably be forged, and they should be hailed rather than reflexively viewed as a threat to US interests.
Biden has made strides in his foreign policy, but the bar has been set very low by his predecessor. The American people will have to hold leaders to account at a higher level.
It would also be wise to base our policy on a more realistic view of the challenges we face.
So far, there is little hope that Biden will have a chance to cooperate better with Russia. The widespread campaign to portray Russia as a looming global threat is deeply flawed.
To all the bluster of Vladimir Putin, in 2018 he cut the Russian military budget. Its policies undoubtedly express Russian resentment fueled by the provocative actions of the United States after the end of the Cold War, including the extension of NATO to the borders of Russia, in violation of promises made by the administration of the United States. President George HW Bush; ignore Russian warnings against attempts to incorporate Georgia and Ukraine into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; and help inflict on Russia the shock therapy economic policies of the 1990s, which created and enriched Russian oligarchs, impoverished millions of people and plundered the country’s treasury.
It would be beneficial for us to seek to re-engage Russia, a necessary partner in key areas, and to relaunch efforts to limit the nuclear arms race and reduce tensions at Russia’s borders.
Moreover, a renewed cold war narrows the space for democratic forces and strengthens the hand of a repressive state and the influence of nationalist voices – on both sides.
China, on the other hand, is an emerging world power, a mercantilist dictatorship that has had remarkable success in lifting its people out of poverty. Its leaders seek to expand their economic influence while consolidating China’s leadership position in emerging technologies and markets.
Trump has abandoned the strategic neoliberalism of his predecessors, replacing the Trans-Pacific Partnership with threats of a misguided trade war against China, while preparing for the US military presence in the South China Sea. Biden predictably continued the trade war against China.
But it is not in the interests of the United States – and we do not have the resources – to dominate a modern Chinese army on the borders of that country. Our allies and other Asian nations have their own reasons for countering China’s rise to power, and they would be better equipped to do so if they could count on continued US diplomatic support rather than militarism and bluster. .
While China’s growth has been impressive, serious questions arise as to its structural imbalances and its strength going forward. Washington needs to prepare for the problems posed by China’s weakness rather than those potentially caused by its growing confidence.
The transformation of America’s global economic strategy is essential to any successful security project. The neoliberal approach – the so-called Washington Consensus – has generated growing inequalities and faced growing resistance, both nationally and internationally. To create an economy that works for workers, there is work to be done to transform this model here and abroad.
If we were to break free from an endless war, the United States would be in a better position to focus on real security imperatives, foremost among them the growing destructiveness of climate change. There is growing awareness and support for the belief that working with other nations will lead to a much faster transition to a fossil fuel free economy. The status quo is not just a threat to our national security; it is a threat to our very existence.
America’s security would be much better served if, instead of acting as a military cop on the global beat, we helped mobilize and collaborate with allies in humanitarian operations.
Globalization and climate change are causing serious upheaval and the spread of more diseases like Covid-19. International cooperation has had remarkable success in this area, and when the United States was involved, our efforts not only strengthened our alliances, but also protected Americans from the disruption caused by massive refugee movements and deadly plagues. .
Our security is best served when we provide a model for the values ââwe stand for. So now is the time to focus on strengthening our democracy and our economy at home.
The greatest threat does not come from interventions by Russia or other foreign actors, but rather from the influx of black money into our elections, cynical efforts to suppress votes, and the gerrymandering of electoral districts.
China’s mercantilist policies have generated record trade deficits that surely undermined American wages. Yet it was not their policies, but ours – devised by multinational corporations and banks that rigged the economy for their own gain – that made this happen.
Sensible reforms like these are already enjoying broad support among the American people. Americans have no desire to control the world.
The country elected Biden’s predecessors – a Democrat and a Republican – in part because they vowed to focus on rebuilding America at home. Their failure to keep those promises reflects the influence of the military-industrial-academic complex and an elite national security establishment, both of which remain tied to permanent war and global surveillance.
Leaders who display a foreign policy of restraint and progressive realism will find a receptive audience, but we cannot afford to wait. The United States is in desperate need of ferocious and energetic citizen intervention – a movement that requires both stocktaking and a change of course.
Our democracy may be corrupt, but the American people can still hold our leaders to account and challenge entrenched interests.
This article was produced by Globetrotter (who provided it to Asia Times) in partnership with ACURA.