The More Things Change…
I’ve written a guest blog over at the Silver Circle Underground, a blog related to a forthcoming sci-fi film about a future revolt against the Federal Reserve. I was asked to write about what US foreign policy will be like in 2019, when the film is set. I’ve cross-posted it below.
The consistency of United States foreign policy is truly remarkable. Since its inception, America’s approach was expansion and control; first with westward annexation – humbly called Manifest Destiny – and then with interventions and impositions to the south through the Monroe Doctrine. But exceptionally since the end of World War II, US policy has remained notably undeviating.
US national security planners understood, correctly, that unlike war torn Europe America would emerge from the war as an economic and military powerhouse with unrivaled security and influence. The world was divided up into war zones and plans were set to implement an Imperial Grand Strategy over a region encompassing the Western Hemisphere, the Far East, the former British Empire, with a high focus on Middle East oil reserves. As a Top Secret National Security Council briefing put it in 1954, “the Near East is of great strategic, political, and economic importance,” as it “contains the greatest petroleum resources in the world” as well as “essential locations for strategic military bases in any world conflict.”
The primary aim, according to official documents was to maintain “unquestioned power” with “military and economic supremacy,” while ensuring the “limitation of any exercise of sovereignty” by states that might interfere with its global designs. As an illustration of how unchanged the US imperial approach has been, these precise strategies were reiterated in the 2002 National Security Strategy. It was of foremost importance that “our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.” Similarly, in former Secretary of Defense William Cohen’s 1999 annual report to President Clinton, the crucial task was to “retain the capability to act unilaterally” to prevent “the possibility that a regional great power or global peer competitor may emerge” and to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources.”
Maintaining global hegemony through the threat or use of military force has been the singular approach in American foreign policy, and it manifests in ugly ways. Regime changes (often just a synonym for international terrorism) in Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Iraq and more are prime examples.
So to consider what US foreign policy will look like in 2019, a mere eight years from now, is really to consider how little will change. Some specifics may change, as has happened in this Arab Spring – a hated and feared development in the annals in Washington, as it signifies a potential for the policies of Middle East government’s to more closely reflect the will of the people (something national security planners have been actively preventing for decades). But the fundamentals will prove as durable as they have since WWII.
The United States will still have approximately 900 military bases in 150 countries around the world, although the numbers may increase slightly. Our army is likely to still have a presence in Iraq, and a large-scale military occupation will still be going on in Afghanistan. The likelihood of our 53,960 troops being pulled out of Germany, or the 57,586 in South Korea is next to zero. We will still be supporting tyrannies throughout the Middle East in Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and perhaps even still Egypt. We will continue to impose a power structure subservient to Washington throughout Latin America, probably fighting the same sorts of proxy wars and drug war adventures we are now. We will still have a massive military industrial complex, a sprawling and unaccountable national security state, and a foreign policy largely dictated by the powerful, with help from the banksters.
One aspect of imperial policy that looks to be changing rather rapidly, although simply upholding the same imperial approach, is air power. Increasingly, military technology has developed such that unmanned, remotely controlled aerial vehicles can bomb countries and assassinate enemies of the state without declaring war, asking the permission of Congress, or even making it public at all. Ominously, this could lead the aggressors in Washington to keep wars increasingly secret and unaccountable.
Some perceive the fall of the American Empire just around the corner, with rising powers like China presenting problems for US global hegemony. But the US domain of power is still too far-reaching. And in 2019, we can expect it to remain the most dominant – and the most violent.