FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Does Non-Interventionism Horrify Our Rulers?

If one tried to design a foreign policy to embroil Americans in endless conflicts that would otherwise be quite remote, one could hardly do better than recent presidents of the United States. What could you do that these men have not done to keep Americans mired in distant turmoil?

Signs of apparent failure abound while the ruling elite feigns ignorance of the connection between U.S. intervention abroad and widening regional wars. Despite President Obama’s assurances that America’s combat role in the unceasingly violent Afghanistan is over, we know it is not. ISIS expands under American and allied airstrikes, the best recruiting program the Islamists could want. There was no ISIS in Iraq or Syria before America invaded the former and called open season on the regime in the latter. In response, Obama seeks unlimited war power.

ISIS franchises are emerging throughout the Arab and Muslim world. Libya, which America and NATO “liberated” from Col. Gaddafi after prodding by then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton, is in militia-ridden hell and is now a haven for ISIS sympathizers. Obama can’t make up his mind about what his war on ISIS means for his opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who also opposes ISIS and al-Qaeda.

Meanwhile in Europe, the U.S.-instigated coup in Ukraine, following the in-your-face expansion of NATO to the Russian border, has not had the intended effect of making Russian President Putin skulk to his corner in fear of the global hegemon. Instead, Putin capitalized on the explicit provocation to engineer the dubious annexation of Crimea and to aid separatists (or perhaps federalists) in eastern Ukraine, who are fighting neo-Nazis among others. Despite the current ceasefire, a war between nuclear powers Russia and the United States is not impossible.

Well done, Messrs. Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, and on back. Each faithfully pursued the geopolitical and economic interests embodied in the idea of American hegemony. We see the results: slaughter and incineration abroad (often by remote control), humanitarian catastrophe for homeless survivors, and American deaths and injuries far outnumbering those of the 9/11 attacks — themselves a response to decades of U.S.-inflicted and -sponsored killing and upheaval in the Muslim world. And then there are the fiscal costs to Americans.

Unsurprisingly, the ruling elite has no incentive to reconsider the premise of U.S. foreign policy, namely, that America can and should run the world. It is “our” manifest destiny and not to be questioned. Obama occasionally looks like the reluctant emperor, but whenever he appears to waver, someone — Mrs. Clinton or Samantha Power or Susan Rice — keeps him from “going wobbly” (as Mrs. Thatcher did with George H. W. Bush in 1990 after Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.)

We must acknowledge, of course, that what looks like failure to us Americans outside the privileged elite may not actually be failure for our overlords. After all, turmoil is integral to the ingenious political perpetual-motion machine. Turmoil furnishes the “threats” that then can be called on to justify the very policies that manufactured those threats in the first place. How clever! We’ll hear no more talk of a “peace dividend,” that dangerous idea — dangerous, that is, to Pentagon and intelligence budgets and government-contractor bottom lines — that nearly ran amok when the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact alliance imploded, 1989–1991. That was indeed a close one. Imagine the world’s only superpower without an enemy. People might wonder what’s the point of it all. Thank goodness there were years of intervention in the Muslim world in the bank, compound interest accruing.

While failure may in fact be success for the empire’s custodians and profiteers, the victimized foreign populations and American people have not been so fortunate, and there’s no end in sight.

If those populations and the American people are to get any relief, U.S. foreign policy will need deep rethinking from outside elite circles. That won’t be easy. As over two centuries show, American hegemony — “exceptionalism” — is in the nation’s political DNA. Even the opening of foreign markets to American producers was always seen as a government program backed by a navy with global reach.

It’s well past time for us to think about what horrifies our rulers: nonintervention.

Sheldon Richman is vice president and editor at The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Va. (www.fff.org).

More articles by:

Sheldon Richman, author of America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.  He is also the Executive Editor of The Libertarian Institute.

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Wim Laven
The Annual Whitewashing of Martin Luther King Jr.
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail