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USA foreign policy: internal projections and conjectures


Internal projections upon the rest of the world, or how Americans like to see themselves:

Fran Shor has a most recent post on the "New Politics" journal website:  The End of the “American Century”: Whither US Global Hegemony and the Indispensable Nation?

After having just read the article by Fran Shor which appeared in New Politics, something more needs to be said about reading the opinion of someone looking from the inside outwards. Fran Shor is making an invaluable contribution to a discussion which has been neglected for some time now. He addresses the link between self-assumptions and foreign policy.

By self-assumptions are meant how Americans perceive their own mission and position in the world. In the absence of a real interest in foreign policy, it matters how a majority of Americans position themselves with regards to internal policy, and this without realizing that it has deeper implications for relating to the world outside the USA.

It is quite interesting to follow Fran Shor's analysis as he departs from the key premise that various US Presidents had to seek always some form of legitimization for any kind of intervention. Most of the time these interventions in the internal affairs of other nations served primarily the purpose to further the industrial-military complex. That means having jobs at home and poses immediately the question as to the ethical position of those who work for this complex. Michael Moore showed a bit of that contradiction when he interviewed for his film 'Bowling for Columbine' someone working for Lockheed which builds missiles and who believes the youth should not be allowed to have guns at their disposal.

Here I would pose my first question what about Eisenhower who saw after WWII that the military-industrial complex was the most unproductive economies of all? He tried to scale it back but as shown in due course of further developments was not very successful. Neither were the Presidents which followed. There is a huge dependency upon orders from Pentagon and which does mean it is easy money when compared to having to produce and to sell something on the free market rather than having the state as sole customer. That is why all those proclaming a wish for less state like the Tea Party advocates are blind as to what are the real dependencies of the socalled private industry upon a state willing to dole out millions of dollars in military contracts.

Due to this dependency upon the state most Presidents who followed Eisenhower chose to ignore his basic insight and tried to sustain, if not expand the military-industrial complex. All what they had to do is to hide or else finds ways to justify the kinds of Pentagon orders as mentioned most recently when Trump bragged about having saved jobs in connection with Carrier for its mother company National Technology has a huge Pentagon order to keep its business afloat.

However, the self assumptions must have altered in dispositions, in order to adapt the USA to new conditions. For instance, McNamara under Kennedy thought in 1961 to delegate the organisation skills to the big corporations and thus initiated a first wave of globalisation. Many things have happened since then.

The critical point which Varoufakis raises in reference to the mythology of Minotaurus is worthwhile to bring here into the discussion. He argues that the deficit created to finance this global enterprise or outreach is not sustainable. It can be sustained only by an inflow of capital, while forgetting that there is a huge deficit being accumulated within the States itself due to the tax relief of Bush. He transformed a state budget with a surplus under Bill Clinton into a huge deficit. He did it to weaken the state and make it over dependent upon the socalled money givers, even though the financing of the debt was made possible by printing dollars. So when a fake purchasing power of the dollar depends upon especially the Chinese running up their own deficit, then the precarious nature of national and international interdependence encroaches ever more so on foreign policy options. If something happens to capital flows, then US foreign policy will be in deep trouble.


Yanis Varoufakis, Trump, the Dragon, and the Minotaur 28. Nov. 2016



Interesting to read in Fran Shor's article that he describes US foreign policy as being or less a patch work in terms of different kinds of interventions. This became apparently a trend after the failure in Viet Nam could not longer be kept out of sight of the American public and more so after 9/11 when the invasion into Iraq in 2003 took on the form of outsourcing military activities. It led to such exposures as the one of a company like Halliburton. It turned out that the private agencies were not only corrupt but highly inefficient in dealings with foreign related issues. Militarily the experiment with outsourcing was also a a disaster on the ground. 'Friendly fire' entailed many more casualties than what was allowed in the eyes of the American public.

Not only were coffins coming home not shown under Bush but the entire war veteran issue was ready to blow up at any time. It is most interesting that Trump picked that up and gained more votes from veterans contrary to all hopes by Hillary Clinton after this incidence with Trump insulting a father who had lost his son at war. Why? He simply put his finger into an explosive mix of forgotten and neglected issues which were simmering underneath the perception of official policy. It indicates that war veterans with all their traumas return to a society which is itself so dissarranged that it cannot integrate any longer those who have done their duty for the country. The break down of what should have been a positive pay back as part of the expectations of the soldiers was a disaster. Their hopes were answered in reality by attitudes such as 'who cares what you did in Afghanistan!'

Such indifference indicates perhaps best what Fran Shor has diagnosed as marking the end of the American century. Trump may want to make America great again, but the problem goes much deeper, for the re-integration of a wounded soldier into a sick society shall be a sure failure. For such a society leaves little room for human compassion nor does its credo of being dependent upon a fast moving economy not give sufficient time for the healing process.

Moreover the ethical issue of having killed - and some ridiculous statements have been made by potential appointees of Trump to his cabinet as if killing can be fun - is more than mere aggressivity. It is a sickness in itself. If not treated properly, it will turn violence onto society itself.

There are many more indications that America is heading precisely in that direction for having mishandled the ramifications of the kind of foreign policy it has pursued since 1945. Fran Shor points out rightly so that any further negative developments in the same direction will only undermine any claim that this shall bring peace and not war. It will also not bring stability to a world which has been going through troubled times to say the least since the Berlin Wall opening in 1989. 

This tendency not to see own contradictions may be called the imperial paradox. It is simply a fact that the colonisation of other nations will need the colonisation of its own subjects, so that the American citizen will have no Rights at home nor feel safe when travelling aborad. Instead they will create a make belief world by thinking the abnormal is the normal. They will begin to speak a slave language as defined by Ernst Bloch. Aronson referred to him in his article about 'social hope', but does not refer to this phenomenon which I think is what has thrown America back to the era of slavery. Slave language means to curse in order to praise and vice versa if you praise you curse in reality. Trump is an excellent example of that. He means often the opposite of what he says in a loud mouth manner to show off he can ruffle the feathers of the establishement when he belongs as much if not more to those superich managers and billionaires who made their money in more than questionable ways.

Those using the slave language do so in order not to reveal their inner motives or articulate their true thoughts especially when they talk with a boss or listen to a manager giving instructions. I was once on the shop floor of Ford in Detroit and could not believe my eyes on how a manager downgraded the shop stewarts. He treated them as being of another class of low minded people who deserve no good treatment. When speaking within such a hierarchy, it leaves no options for altering the disposition of a management culture towards ignoring permanently the plights of the common people. Trump's deliberate circumvention of trade unions is a first and troublesome indication, but also who he puts in charge of sensitive areas like social housing and industrial relations. 

It is impossible to ignore human pain but to bring about social justice not abstract models of reflections are needed but first of all human compassion and an ability to work with both social partners in any work relationship.

The article of Fran Shor stands out for its honesty and willingness to name what is at fault with all the prevailing self assumptions in the USA. They make believe that the American century can still continue in the 21st century. Naturally here begins the real theoretical work to ensure the right interventions are made in time so as to correct the political process leading up to a false foreign policy, that is before another major mistake is going to be made and the entire world will have to suffer under the US foreign policy.

Hatto Fischer


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