Daniel LAZARE: The Dangerous Decline of U.S. Hegemony; consortiumnews, Sep 9, 2017

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/09/09/the-dangerous-decline-of-us-hegemony/

The Dangerous Decline of U.S. Hegemony

September 9, 2017

Exclusive: The bigger picture behind Official Washington’s hysteria over Russia, Syria and North Korea is the image of a decaying but dangerous American hegemon resisting the start of a new multipolar order, explains Daniel Lazare.

By Daniel Lazare

The showdown with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a seminal event that can only end in one of two ways: a nuclear exchange or a reconfiguration of the international order.

While complacency is always unwarranted, the first seems increasingly unlikely. As no less a global strategist than Steven Bannon observed about the possibility of a pre-emptive U.S. strike: “There’s no military solution. Forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s no military solution here. They got us.”

This doesn’t mean that Donald Trump, Bannon’s ex-boss, couldn’t still do something rash. After all, this is a man who prides himself on being unpredictable in business negotiations, as historian William R. Polk, who worked for the Kennedy administration during the Cuban Missile Crisis, points out. So maybe Trump thinks it would be a swell idea to go a bit nuts on the DPRK.

But this is one of the good things about having a Deep State, the existence of which has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt since the intelligence community declared war on Trump last November. While it prevents Trump from reaching a reasonable modus vivendi with Russia, it also means that the President is continually surrounded by generals, spooks, and other professionals who know the difference between real estate and nuclear war.

As ideologically fogbound as they may be, they can presumably be counted on to make sure that Trump does not plunge the world into Armageddon (named, by the way, for a Bronze Age city about 20 miles southeast of Haifa, Israel).

That leaves option number two: reconfiguration. The two people who know best about the subject are Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Both have been chafing for years under a new world order in which one nation gets to serve as judge, jury, and high executioner. This, of course, is the United States.

If the U.S. says that Moscow’s activities in the eastern Ukraine are illegitimate, then, as the world’s sole remaining “hyperpower,” it will see to it that Russia suffers accordingly. If China demands more of a say in Central Asia or the western Pacific, then right-thinking folks the world over will shake their heads sadly and accuse it of undermining international democracy, which is always synonymous with U.S. foreign policy.

There is no one – no institution – that Russia or China can appeal to in such circumstances because the U.S. is also in charge of the appellate division. It is the “indispensable nation” in the immortal words of Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, because “we stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future.” Given such amazing brilliance, how can any other country possibly object?

Challenging the Rule-Maker

But now that a small and beleaguered state on the Korean peninsula is outmaneuvering the United States and forcing it to back off, the U.S. no longer seems so far-sighted. If North Korea really has checkmated the U.S., as Bannon says, then other states will want to do the same. The American hegemon will be revealed as an overweight 71-year-old man naked except for his bouffant hairdo.

Not that the U.S. hasn’t suffered setbacks before. To the contrary, it was forced to accept the Castro regime following the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and it suffered a massive defeat in Vietnam in 1975. But this time is different. Where both East and West were expected to parry and thrust during the Cold War, giving as good as they got, the U.S., as the global hegemon, must now do everything in its power to preserve its aura of invincibility.

Since 1989, this has meant knocking over a string of “bad guys” who had the bad luck to get in its way. First to go was Manuel Noriega, toppled six weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall in an invasion that cost the lives of as many as 500 Panamanian soldiers and possibly thousands of civilians as well.

Next to go was Mullah Omar of Afghanistan, sent packing in October 2001, followed by Slobodan Milosevic, hauled before an international tribunal in 2002; Saddam Hussein, executed in 2006, and Muammar Gaddafi, killed by a mob in 2011. For a while, the world really did seem like “Gunsmoke,” and the U.S. really did seem like Sheriff Matt Dillon.

But then came a few bumps in the road. The Obama administration cheered on a Nazi-spearheaded coup d’état in Kiev in early 2014 only to watch helplessly as Putin, under intense popular pressure, responded by detaching Crimea, which historically had been part of Russia and was home to the strategic Russian naval base at Sevastopol, and bringing it back into Russia.

The U.S. had done something similar six years earlier when it encouraged Kosovo to break away from Serbia. But, in regards to Ukraine, neocons invoked the 1938 Munich betrayal and compared the Crimea case to Hitler’s seizure of the Sudetenland.

Backed by Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dealt Washington another blow by driving U.S.-backed, pro-Al Qaeda forces out of East Aleppo in December 2016. Predictably, the Huffington Post compared the Syrian offensive to the fascist bombing of Guernica.

Fire and Fury

Finally, beginning in March, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un entered into a game of one-upmanship with Trump, firing ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, test-firing an ICBM that might be capable of hitting California, and then exploding a hydrogen warhead roughly eight times as powerful as the atomic bomb that leveled Hiroshima in 1945. When Trump vowed to respond “with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which the world has never seen before,” Kim upped the ante by firing a missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

As bizarre as Kim’s behavior can be at times, there is method to his madness. As Putin explained during the BRICS summit with Brazil, India, China, and South Africa, the DPRK’s “supreme leader” has seen how America destroyed Libya and Iraq and has therefore concluded that a nuclear delivery system is the only surefire guarantee against U.S. invasion.

“We all remember what happened with Iraq and Saddam Hussein,” he said. “His children were killed, I think his grandson was shot, the whole country was destroyed and Saddam Hussein was hanged…. We all know how this happened and people in North Korea remember well what happened in Iraq…. They will eat grass but will not stop their nuclear program as long as they do not feel safe.”

Since Kim’s actions are ultimately defensive in nature, the logical solution would be for the U.S. to pull back and enter into negotiations. But Trump, desperate to save face, quickly ruled it out. “Talking is not the answer!” he tweeted. Yet the result of such bluster is only to make America seem more helpless than ever.

Although The New York Times wrote that U.S. pressure to cut off North Korean oil supplies has put China “in a tight spot,” this was nothing more than whistling past the graveyard. There is no reason to think that Xi is the least bit uncomfortable. To the contrary, he is no doubt enjoying himself immensely as he watches America paint itself into yet another corner.

The U.S. Corner

If Trump backs down at this point, the U.S. standing in the region will suffer while China’s will be correspondingly enhanced. On the other hand, if Trump does something rash, it will be a golden opportunity for Beijing, Moscow, or both to step in as peacemakers. Japan and South Korea will have no choice but to recognize that there are now three arbiters in the region instead of just one while other countries – the Philippines, Indonesia, and maybe even Australia and New Zealand – will have to follow suit.

Unipolarity will slink off to the sidelines while multilateralism takes center stage. Given that U.S. share of global GDP has fallen by better than 20 percent since 1989, a retreat is inevitable. America has tried to compensate by making maximum use of its military and political advantages. That would be a losing proposition even if it had the most brilliant leadership in the world. Yet it doesn’t. Instead, it has a President who is an international laughingstock, a dysfunctional Congress, and a foreign-policy establishment lost in a neocon dream world. As a consequence, retreat is turning into a disorderly rout.

Assuming a mushroom cloud doesn’t go up over Los Angeles, the world is going to be a very different place coming out of the Korean crisis than when it went in. Of course, if a mushroom cloud does go up, it will be even more so.

Trump administration’s plans for energy, foreign policy, jobs,military and law enforcement, and trade deals for the first 100 days

globalcrisis/globalchange NEWS

Martin Zeis, 20.11.2017 20:45

The White House administration published immediately after Donald Trump was sworn in the policy priorities for the first 100 days.

The web page maps out the Trump administration’s plans for energy, foreign policy, jobs, military and law enforcement, and trade deals, which will likely shape the direction of his first 100 days in office.

Below the referring links.

Greets,

Martin Zeis

the WHITE HOUSE PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMPISSUES

https://www.whitehouse.gov

America First Energy Plan

https://www.whitehouse.gov/america-first-energy

America First Foreign Policy

https://www.whitehouse.gov/america-first-foreign-policy

Bringing Back Jobs And Growth

https://www.whitehouse.gov/bringing-back-jobs-and-growth

Making Our Military Strong Again

https://www.whitehouse.gov/making-our-military-strong-again

Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community

https://www.whitehouse.gov/law-enforcement-community

Trade Deals Working For All Americans

https://www.whitehouse.gov/trade-deals-working-all-americans

Sergey LAVROV: „Russia’s Foreign Policy: Historical Background“; Global Affairs, March 3, 2016

globalcrisis/globalchange NEWS
Martin Zeis, 03.03.2016

Dear all,

today the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Russian Federation published a striking article by Sergey Lavrov about Russia’s foreign policy over the course of the last 1000 years.

(full text attached, pdf-file 8p)

Greets
Martin Zeis

— E X C E R P T —

http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2124391

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Russian Federation,
Foreign policcy / News
3 March 2016 09:20

Sergey Lavrov’s article „Russia’s Foreign Policy: Historical Background“ for „Russia in Global Affairs“ magazine, March 3, 2016

„International relations have entered a very difficult period, and Russia once again finds itself at the crossroads of key trends that determine the vector of future global development.

Many different opinions have been expressed in this connection including the fear that we have a distorted view of the international situation and Russia’s international standing. I perceive this as an echo of the eternal dispute between pro-Western liberals and the advocates of Russia’s unique path. There are also those, both in Russia and outside of it, who believe that Russia is doomed to drag behind, trying to catch up with the West and forced to bend to other players’ rules, and hence will be unable to claim its rightful place in international affairs. I’d like to use this opportunity to express some of my views and to back them with examples from history and historical parallels.

It is an established fact that a substantiated policy is impossible without reliance on history. This reference to history is absolutely justified, especially considering recent celebrations. In 2015, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of Victory in WWII, and in 2014, we marked a century since the start of WWI. In 2012, we marked 200 years of the Battle of Borodino and 400 years of Moscow’s liberation from the Polish invaders. If we look at these events carefully, we’ll see that they clearly point to Russia’s special role in European and global history.

(…)

Speaking about Russia’s role in the world as a great power, Russian philosopher Ivan Ilyin said that the greatness of a country is not determined by the size of its territory or the number of its inhabitants, but by the capacity of its people and its government to take on the burden of great world problems and to deal with these problems in a creative manner. A great power is the one which, asserting its existence and its interest … introduces a creative and meaningful legal idea to the entire assembly of the nations, the entire “concert” of the peoples and states. It is difficult to disagree with these words.“

LAVROV-Russia’s-Foreign-Policy160303.pdf

M. K. BHADRAKUMAR: Obama’s overture to Putin has paid off; Asia Times, May 15, 2015

Following a remarkable analysis of the Empire’s road to nowhere and Kerry’s motives to make a pilgrimage to Sochi.
Excerpt (full text attached)

Asia Times,May 13, 2015 — http://atimes.com/2015/05/obamas-overture-to-putin-has-paid-off
Obama’s overture to Putin has paid off
By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR

There is no reason to doubt the disclosure by the unnamed senior State Department official who briefed the media even as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was heading for Sochi, Russia, to meet President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, to the effect that the “Secretary and (Russian Foreign Minister Sergey) Lavrov have been talking for some time about when the conditions might be ripe, and we (the U.S.) obviously wanted to make sure that if he (Kerry) was going to make the trip (to Russia), he’d get a chance to talk to the main decision maker (read Putin).”

Indeed, there was an inevitability about yesterday’s meeting at Sochi and what happened is in the best traditions of the denouement of Russian-American tensions, historically speaking. The partisans on both sides who fought the media war through past year probably thought that the “New Cold War” was for real or that they were witnessing were the birth pangs of a new world order. They must be feeling let down.

Of course, the humility in the tone of the senior State Department Official is striking. The Russians have shown that they could hunker down like nobody’s business when it comes to defending their core interests, and the Obama administration has understood that. More importantly, the U.S. also understands that from now on the law of diminishing returns will be at work.

Simply put, the Chinese have made their appearance on the strategic landscape of Eurasia for the first time in history, and the U.S. badly needs Russia’s cooperation in the Middle East, more than at any time since the Cold War ended.

On the other hand, for all their bravado, the Russian elites also have understood that the future scenario for their economy remains grim if the western embargo on finance, investment and trade continue relentlessly. They realize too that at this rate they may eventually have to settle for a role as China’s junior partner. The world at large may sympathize with Russia’s plight and isolation, but life moves on, leaving the elites in Moscow to cope with the deepening economic recession as best as they could on their own faltering steam.

In retrospect, the Russians placed unrealistically high hopes on the independent foreign policies toward Russia on the part of the U.S.’ European allies. Even Greece caved in, finally. (…)

Equally, the sigh of relief in Moscow is almost audible. From the Russian viewpoint, the West’s boycott of Moscow has ended. We may expect European statesmen to travel to Moscow as before. Indeed, as the U.S.-Russia collaboration on regional conflicts advances, it will have positive fallout on the bilateral relations between the two big powers. (Last week, Washington had signaled willingness to engage Moscow in talks relating to the U.S.’ missile defence program.)

Both Washington and Moscow are in a chastened mood today, as the media briefings in Sochi strongly suggest. They peered into the abyss and didn’t like what they saw.

In the final analysis, Obama took a high risk by making the overture to Russia. His critics and detractors are bound to pounce on him, as they would only see his overture to Putin as yet another U-turn on a crucial foreign policy front. (…)

Evidently, he is outstripping America’s political class, large sections of the intelligentsia and the media – and, of course, annoying friends and allies in Central Europe who clamor for a hard line on Russia – Poland and the Baltic states, in particular.

Obama made three cardinal errors of judgment on Russia. One, he allowed the U.S. interference in Russia’s domestic politics to continue with the objective of changing the political calculus in the Kremlin in a direction that would serve America’s global interests. True, the U.S. had gotten used to stringing the Russian elites and once even had arranged Boris Yeltsin’s re-election as president (1996). But Obama could have sized up that the times had changed. (…)

Second, Obama underestimated Russia’s resolve to maintain a buffer on its western borders, which has been the traditional invasion route from Europe. Washington literally forced Putin’s hands on Crimea and eastern Ukraine. What happened was not Putin’s choice. In the obsessive drive to demonize Putin, it is often overlooked that he desires a partnership with the West, but on equal terms. The Russian “hyper sensitivity” is not difficult to comprehend.

Third, Obama has been obstinate in his refusal to acknowledge Russia’s legitimate aspirations as a global power.
(…) How could such an erudite mind and profound intellect have got it all so very wrong? Of course, Obama’s familiarity with Russian politics has been limited and he has allowed himself to be led by the seasoned “Russia hands” in the U.S. foreign-policy establishment who are weaned on Cold War era politics. The result has been that he ended up pursuing the very same containment strategy toward Russia that was ushered in by the Bill Clinton administration in the early nineties.

It has proved to be a road to nowhere, because the Russia that Bill Clinton in turn hoodwinked, bullied and pushed around no longer exists today. (…)

BHADRAKUMAR-Obamas-overture-to-Putin150513.pdf