American Foreign Policy at Zero

Gabriel Kolko puts into a broader perspective the disasterous foreign policy of the Bush administration referred to in the immediately preceding article, entitled Not Since Hitler. He accurately points out that the Bush foreign policy, while mired in deceit and corruption, is simply the natural product of a hundred years of U.S. geopolitical delusions. It’s a very good read. Here are a few extracts (click the headline for the full piece):

The United States has rarely lost any conventional military battle since at least 1950. Nor has it, at the same time, ever won a war. It has successfully overthrown governments through interventions or subversion but the political results of all its efforts – as in Afghanistan in the 1980s and Iran in 1953 – have often made its subsequent geopolitical position far, far more tenuous. In a word, in international affairs it bumbles very badly and it has made an already highly unstable world far more precarious than it otherwise would be if only the U.S. had left the world alone. No less important, Americans would be far better off thereby. Because – to repeat a critical point – it has failed to attain victory in any of the real wars it has fought since Korea. Its adversaries learned as long ago as the Korean War that decentralization would stymie America’s overwhelming firepower, which was designed for concentrated armies, and provided a successful antidote for massive, expensive technology.

All this is very well known. The real issue is why the U.S. makes the identical mistakes over and over again and never learns from its errors.

At the present time it is losing two wars and creating a vast arc of profound strategic and political instability from the Mediterranean Sea to South Asia, it has resumed the arms race in Europe, and it is making Russia an enemy when it could easily have been friendly. Economically, it has run up the biggest deficits in American history, brought on the decline of the dollar, and wherever one turns this administration has been at least as bad as any in two centuries of American history – perhaps even the worst. We now have an unprecedented disaster in the conduct of American power, both overseas and at home, in part because of the people who now rule – ambitious men and women who calculate only what is best for their careers – but also because the imperatives and inexorable logic of past policies and conventional wisdom have brought us to this critical juncture. All the old mistakes have been repeated; nothing had been learned from the past, and official myopia is timeless.

A large part of the United States’ problem, whether Republicans or Democrats are in power, is that it believes it has the right and obligation to intervene everywhere, in whatever forms they choose, and that its interests are global. Interventionism – so the consensus among Republicans and Democrats goes – is the cost of its global interests and mission, because it has been convinced for almost a century that it was preordained to remedy the world’s many wrongs – and to do so by whatever means it chooses. There is nothing whatever that is unique in this regard in the present Bush Administration. This pretension, which first began during the 19th century and which Woodrow Wilson articulated, is simply not functional and it has led it into countless morasses, bad for the U.S. and far worse for the countries it has interfered with. The fact is that no nation has ever been able to assume such an international role, and those that have attempted to do so came to no good end – they exhausted their resources and passions and follies.

Click the headline for the full text of this very thorough study.

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