FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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 Coming to Palestine, 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.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
February 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Mayor Mike, Worse Than Mayor Pete
Bruce E. Levine
“Sublime Madness”: Anarchists, Psychiatric Survivors, Emma Goldman & Harriet Tubman
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Leader of the Pack
Jennifer Matsui
The Doomsday Cuckoo Clock
Paul Street
Things Said in Confidence to 4000 Close Friends This Week
Jonathan Cook
Even With Corbyn Gone, Antisemitism Threats Will Keep Destroying the UK Labour Party
Thomas Klikauer
Cambridge Analytica: a Salesgirl’s Report
Joseph Natoli
Vichy Democrats vs. the Master Voice
David Rosen
Sanders vs. the Establishment Democrats: McGovern All Over Again?
Louis Proyect
Marx, Lincoln and Project 1619
Robert Hunziker
Amazon Onslaught
Russell Mokhiber
NPR and the Escalating Attack on Single-Payer Health Care
Ramzy Baroud
Breaking with Washington: Arabs and Muslims Must Take a United Stance for Palestine
Mike Miller
Race and Class: Overcoming the Divides
Michael Brennan
Timeline: How the DNC Manipulated 2016 Presidential Race 
Jacob G. Hornberger
U. S. Lies and Deaths in Afghanistan
Rev. William Alberts
Trump Served Up Projection at the National Prayer Breakfast
Nick Pemberton
The Overwhelming Sex Appeal Of Bernie Sanders
David Swanson
Why This Election Is Different
Dan Bacher
Western States Petroleum Association Tops CA Lobbying Expenses with $8.8 Million Spent in 2019
Christopher Ketcham
The Medium Warps the Message Straight to Our Extinction
Erik Molvar
Trump’s Gutting of NEPA Will Cut the Public Out of Public Lands Decisions
William Kaufman
Tulsi Gabbard: A Political Postmortem
Colin Todhunter
Menace on the Menu in Post-EU Britain
Gregory Elich
Mnangagwa’s Neoliberal Assault on the Zimbabwean People
Ron Jacobs
The Lies of Industry and the Liars Who Sell Them
Binoy Kampmark
Subverting the Blacklist: Kirk Douglas’s Modest Contribution
Tom Engelhardt
The War in Questions: Making Sense of the Age of Carnage
Peter Certo
Who’s Afraid of Socialism?
Brett Wilkins
Dresden, February 1945
Missy Comley Beattie
You’re a Lying, Dog-Faced Pony Soldier
Thomas Knapp
Yes, the ERA Has Been Ratified
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Can the World’s Second Superpower Rise From the Ashes of Twenty Years of War?
Manuel García, Jr.
A Short History of Humanity’s Future
Leonard C. Goodman
The Iowa Fallout and the Democrats’ Shadowy Plot to Stop Sanders
Nilofar Suhrawardy
Delhi Polls: A Storm Over Winner’s “Religious” Acts!
Saad Hafiz
The Unending Human Tragedy in Syria
Jacob Levich
Ocasio-Cortez to Constituents on Bolivian Coup: Drop Dead
Nicky Reid
The Buttigieg Delusion
Gary Leupp
Gramsci and You: an Open Letter to Mayor Pete
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Black America and the Presidents
John Kendall Hawkins
50th Anniversary of Abbie Hoffman’s Intro to STB
Susan Block
Rush Limbaugh Gets Medal for Being the King of Creeps
David Yearsley
Better in Dolby
Peter Harrison
Money is Our Assonance: Seven Short Poems
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail