The major adversaries of the U.S. Empire are China, Russia and Iran. Of the three, China is the greatest threat to U.S. hegemony since its economy has already surpassed that of the U.S. in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) according to the IMF. And military power in the end is a function of economic power, as we have known at least since Thucydides.
The Empire’s answer to China’s rise is the “pivot” to East Asia, the grand design of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, with the assistance of their eager Rasputins at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The pivot is both military and economic, with Japan as the U.S. military surrogate in the region and the anchor for the anti-China TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) trade pact.
So far the pivot has been a bust. It demands the concentration of U.S. military and economic resources in East Asia, and so far that has not happened at near the level required. The level is high, because China’s economy is very strong and dynamic whereas Japan’s is stagnant and because the U.S. has quickened the mutual embrace of China and Russia by engineering an anti-Russian coup in Ukraine. Now in East Asia the U.S. and Japan, must confront not only China but also Russia, which has its own dispute with Japan over the Kurile Islands, a dispute dating from WWII.
Why has the U.S. not committed more forces to East Asia since the “threat” is greatest there? The answer lies right in front of us, out in the open. U.S. forces are committed elsewhere – specifically in the Middle East. And why is that? The principal reason is Israel. Israel’s demands keep the U.S. from freeing its forces to confront China more sharply. But in that direction lies the danger of World War. So Israel is a factor keeping the U.S. from getting us into a predicament that might lead on to world war. And Israel is able to do this because the “Israel Lobby” is so powerful.
Lest this line of thought be misunderstood, we should be clear that the “threat” from China is not to the existence or to the prosperity of the U.S. but to its global domination. China’s rise does not mean that the U.S. need become less prosperous; in fact it can mean greater prosperity for the U.S. Unfortunately this kind of win-win situation is unacceptable to the imperial elite since the termination of the U.S. role as global hegemon would reduce them to denizens of a sleepy little town on the Potomac.
Instead of a vigorous turn to East Asia, the U.S. has been pursuing a step-by-step strategy of knocking down weaker adversaries before going on to the major ones. But this strategy has not been going well. Iraq was the first on this list of lesser adversaries to be attacked, and that country is still not pacified, as ISIS has shown so clearly. Next was Libya, and regime change there went smashingly for the Empire, with Hillary Clinton caught gloating on camera over the barbaric assassination of Muammar Gaddafi. But to accomplish this the U.S. lied in the UN Security Council, promising a no-fly zone but delivering a bombing campaign, which brought Gaddafi down. Russian President Putin has called that the last straw. Russia gave the go-ahead to a no-fly zone for humanitarian reasons but then was betrayed when the U.S. turned it into a bombing campaign. Russia and China are unlikely to trust U.S. calls for humanitarian action again. Syria was to be the next step, but the anti-Assad campaign has not succeeded, although it has wrought untold devastation on that country. Iran looms as the next target if the step-by-step approach is to be followed. And then Russia. Clearly this will not work. Neither Russia nor Iran will be brought down by sanctions alone, and so Israel is clamoring for war on Iran. And with each day, China grows stronger and less vulnerable. Time is not on the side of this approach.
The U.S. policy in the Middle East is a spectacular success for Israel even though it is disastrous for U.S, ambitions as unchallenged global hegemon. Israel’s adversaries, Iraq, Syria and Libya lie in ruins. And the hatred in the Muslim world that has arisen from these ashes is directed at the U.S. Ever unsatisfied, Israel is now pushing ever harder for regime change or destruction of Iran, its last major adversary – a push that will not be relaxed with a nuclear accord with the P5+1, if indeed that occurs. This push is sure to increase after the midterm U.S. elections which saw more hawks enter the Congress.
In summary, for the sake of its ambition to be an unchallenged global hegemon, the U.S. Empire should abandon the step-by-step approach in the Middle East and get on with the pivot. However, Israel with its enormous influence over U.S. foreign policy, most especially Middle Eastern policy, will not permit such a shift in priorities. That is the reality. That is the central contradiction between imperial U.S. policy in the Middle East and U.S. imperial policy in the world.
That said, we must recognize the criminality of the situation and the barabaric nature of Israel’s designs. The peoples of the Middle East are absorbing enormous blows from the U.S. economic and military machine in the form of wars and economic sanctions. More suffering will follow. Is it any surprise that the likes of ISIS have arisen?
What significance is this for anti-interventionists in the U.S.? These considerations suggest that the days of the U.S. Empire as world hegemon are numbered, because it cannot pull free of the Middle East tar baby and because its relative economic strength is in decline. So we anti-interventionists have not worked and do not work in vain.
Finally, we anti-interventionists have a moral obligation to the peoples of the Middle East. Hence we must keep fighting for the rights of the Palestinian people and the end of the American Imperium. From the Middle East to the Far East, our goal is the same: End the Empire. End the wars.
John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com