Now that the political upheaval in Ukraine is reaching a critical juncture, the usual warmongers are blustering and calling for military threats. At the same time, they’re blaming President Obama for “weak foreign policy.” Exactly which foreign policy do they consider weak? The policy that ferreted out and killed Osama bin Laden? The policy of targeting al-Qaeda leaders with drone strikes? The policy of providing air support for Libyan rebels? The policy of mandatory inspections and destruction of chemical weapons in Syria?
Or is it the policy of allowing the people of other nations to select their own government and leaders? Is it the peace negotiations with the new moderate President of Iran who requested a dialogue to end the severe economic sanctions in exchange for Iran ending its ambition for nuclear weapons? Or is it the resumption of US-led peace talks between Israel and Palestine? All of these are positive steps that stand as a welcome contrast to the Bush administration’s “you’re with us or against us” black and white approach to foreign policy.
The world is not merely black and white. It’s nuanced and complex. For example, Russia still has thousands of nuclear warheads with the capability of extinguishing all life on this planet. The US, Great Britain, France, China, India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea all have nuclear weapons. And all but North Korea have long-range delivery systems for their warheads. As a result, military threats and war are seldom the best solutions.
Without using nuclear warheads, which could escalate into the complete destruction of our planet, our options are limited. We have seen what happens when we involve our military in nation-building projects such as Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. We have seen what happened when we used our CIA to overthrow leaders in Chile, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and too many Caribbean and Pan American countries to count. We have seen what happens when we serve as the world’s largest arms and munitions dealer.
All of these tactics have created anti-American sentiment, anti-American terrorists and legions of heavily-armed militias who are determined to fight us and each other. Yet this reality seems lost on the neocons who still cling to Cold War beliefs and the ideals of the Project for the New American Century…a plan to expand the American empire by using our status as a superpower by bullying and threatening other nations to obtain an endless supply of cheap raw materials and underpaid labor.
It was neocons from both parties who led us to arm the Shah of Iran to help him oppress his people in exchange for selling us cheap oil. It was Teapublican neocons like Donald Rumsfled who armed Saddam Hussein to fight Iran. It was the neocon Richard Perle who convinced Ronald Reagan to rebuff Mikhail Gorbochev’s attempts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. It was the neocons who led us to arm and educate the radical Islamists of western Pakistan to fight the Soviets. It was neocons like George H.W. Bush, Oliver North, Elliott Abrams, Caspar Weinberger and Richard “The Dick” Cheney who arranged to sell arms to Iran in exchange for the illegal funding of death squads in El Salvador and Nicaragua. It was the neocons who supported the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in hopes that the Taliban would allow US oil companies to build a pipeline across Afghanistan so that they could gain access to Caspian oil and gas. It was neocons like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby and Condoleeza Rice who used the attacks of 9/11 to lead us into Iraq in order to ensure access to Iraqi oil.
More recently, neocon-lite Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham called for direct military involvement in Libya and Syria despite the fact that many of the militias involved in the war to overthrow Assad in Syria are allied with al-Qaeda. McCain, Graham and other warmongers from both political parties have called for increased sanctions on Iran – even as serious negotiations are underway – a move that would be likely to result in war with Iran. And now, the neocons are calling for confrontation and intervention in Ukraine. They are claiming that the problems in Ukraine are the result of the Obama administration’s “weak” foreign policy.
What do they want the administration to do? Invade Ukraine despite the fact that Ukraine has long been allied with Russia? Such an intervention rightly would be seen by Russia as an act of war. Since the end of the USSR, we have already broken our promises by moving NATO to the very doorstep of Russia, a move that is seen as a very real threat. We have already deployed our missile defense system in Europe, an act that is also seen as a threat to Russia by making a US first strike seem like a real possibility.
Any threat to use military force in Ukraine would, in effect, create a reverse version of the Cuban missile crisis. And there’s no guarantee that Putin is as realistic as Nikita Kruschev and as determined to avoid nuclear war.
The Project for the New American Century ended in 2006 in the aftermath of the group’s disastrous plan to invade and remake Iraq. Unfortunately, its members and proponents, including Richard “The Dick” Cheney, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, William Bennett, Jeb Bush, Steve Forbes, Dan Quayle and many others continue to sell the same bad ideas. Their ideas need to be relegated to the toxic waste dump of history where they belong. While we’re at it, we should bury the racist notion of American “Exceptionalism” along with the top-down economic policy known as Reaganomics, aka Trickle Down theory, Horse and Sparrow economics, and Voodoo economics. It’s time to leave the military and economic thinking of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries behind us.
It is a new century with new possibilities. It requires new thinking and new strategies.