On The Delusion In U.S. Foreign Policy And
What Might Change It
By Moon Of Alabama
The current U.S. foreign policy is delusional.
Its attempts to command the world are getting
laughed at. How did this happen and what might
Here are excerpts from two smart essays which
discuss the theme.
Alastair Crooke asks why somehow nothing seems to
be working within Joe Biden's United States. He then
observes of its global policies:
At the international geo-political plane,
things don’t seem to be working either. Team
Biden says it wants a ‘managed competition’ with
China, but why then send Wendy Sherman (who is
not noted for her diplomatic skills) to China as
Biden’s envoy? Why has there been this
continuous chip-chipping away at the 1972 ‘One
China’ policy with a series of small, seemingly
innocuous moves on Taiwan if Team Biden wants
contained competition (what he said he
wants in a recent call with President Xi), but
falters, time after time, to instigate a serious
Does the Team not understand that it is not
‘containing’ competition, but rather
playing-with-fire, through its’ opaque hints
that the U.S. might support Taiwan independence?
And then, why of all people, dispatch
Victoria Nuland to Moscow, if the competition
with Moscow was to be quietly ‘balanced out’ as
Biden’s face-to-face with Putin in Geneva seemed
to signal? Like Sherman, Nuland was not received
at a senior level, and her ‘Maidan arsonist’
reputation of course preceded her in Moscow. And
why decimate Russia’s diplomatic representation
at NATO HQ, and why have Secretary Austin talk
in Georgia and Ukraine of NATO’s ‘open door’?
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Is there some hidden logic to this, or were
these envoys intentionally sent as some kind of
‘kick-ass’ provocative gesture to underline
who’s boss (i.e. America is Back!)? This is
known in Washington as ‘capitulation diplomacy’
– competitors are presented with only the terms
of their capitulation. If so, it didn’t work.
Both envoys effectively were sent packing, and
Washington’s relations with these key states are
degraded to near zero.
The Russia-China axis have come to the
conclusion that polite diplomatic discourse with
Washington is like water off a duck’s back. The
U.S. and its European protégés simply do not
hear what Moscow or Beijing says to them – so
what is the point to talking to ‘tin-eared’
Americans? Answer: None.
Prof. Michael Brenner recently sent a longer
diagnose of the U.S. political sphere to his mailing
list. He sees the same foreign policy problems as
Crooke does and tries to answer some of the
questions Crooke is asking:
The United States’ mounting hostility toward
China should be understood in reference to the
anxieties and anguish of a declining hegemon.
[T]he great American experiment itself is now
obviously in jeopardy. [..] A country that held
the world in awe as the land where the ‘common
man’ reigned does not passively accept its
degeneration into a predatory oligarchy. It does
not experience the degradation of public
discourse to the point where candor is an
endangered species and truth itself homeless.
As the connection to reality loosens,
disengagement approaches the point where reality
ceases to have any claim of primacy over
illusion. One inhabits an insular world from
which other things, other persons only have
meanings as players in the life drama that you
have scripted. When those others resist playing
those roles, they are cajoled, coerced and then
punished. We literally refuse to take ‘NO’ as an
answer. Let’s look at the tack repeatedly taken
with foreign governments to discern how this
dynamic works out in practice.
On China. Anthony
Blinken flies to Anchorage to instruct his
Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Li,
that Beijing should stop doing things that the
United States objects to, and instead should do
as we tell them. Wang’s response, in diplomatic
language, is “shove it!” Some months later,
Blinken calls Wang with the identical message –
and gets the identical response. In between,
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, flies
to the PRC where she meets Foreign Ministry
officials to whom she gives a familiar shopping
list of American demands spelling out how we
want Beijing to correct its misbehavior. Her
interlocutor, in exchange, hands her a Chinese
shopping list accompanied by a lecture that
boils down to “shove it!” And so on.
On Russia: The exact
pattern repeats itself in meetings between
Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake
Sullivan on the American side, and senior
Kremlin officials - foremost being the
formidable Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergey
Lavrov. These exchanges are punctuated by an
in-person summit between Presidents Biden and
Putin held in Geneva at the White House’s
request. Biden's main purpose was to calm the
waters he himself had churned up by encouraging
Ukrainian President Zelensky to make
preparations for an assault on the Donbas.
Caught by surprise at the stern Russian
response, he was forced to backpedal. The
diplomatic retreat was covered by a rote
restatement of American criticisms re. Crimea,
alleged electoral interference, Syria, human
rights and Navalny (the born-again democrat who
first made his mark as a rabid Muslim-phobic
rabble-rouser). As per usual, Putin coolly
refuted all the charges, noted some of Russia's
own complaints, and make a concrete proposal to
open a round of talks on strategic nuclear arms.
Washington has shown no interest in the last.
So, the two men parted ways. Product? Zero.
As a final tragic-comic twist, Biden
subsequently sends Victoria Nuland to Moscow –
yes, the same Nuland declared persona non
grata by Russia for her role as provocateur
in the Ukrainian coup and notorious vilifier of
Putin and the Kremlin. Her rancorous visitation
pretty much slammed shut the window insofar as
any serious dialogue between Washington and
Moscow is concerned [..].
Beyond icing the new Cold War with Russia, did
she succeed in the ancillary objective to scare
the Kremlin away from too close an embrace of
Beijing with a show-down over Taiwan in the
offing? Anybody who believes that is possible
never has bothered to study Vladimir Putin or to
examine Russian history. Sadly, that category
includes Washington’s top decision-makers. By
comparison, name-calling is more fun and much
less taxing on the gray cells.
The American plan to construct a
cordon sanitaire around China
exhibits a similar type of repetitive,
unyielding behavior. Vietnam, a candidate to
join the anti-China alliance, is paid visits by
two high-powered American leaders. First,
Secretary of Defense General Lloyd Austin flies
into Hanoi to make the case for the Vietnamese
to throw in their lot with the United States –
the two parties familiar with each other from
the last movie. Nothing doing. A while later
it’s the turn of Vice-President Kamala Harris
who punctuates her fruitless discussions with
press conference remarks denouncing China and
implying support for an independent Taiwan. Her
hosts are not pleased.
This is not normal behavior; it is
pathological. It speaks of the
disengagement from reality noted above. And it
is exceedingly dangerous since it disregards the
actual attitudes and actions of others in the
relentless effort to project onto them
caricatured images, simplified conceptions of
who they are and how they can be manipulated
suited to the crude script we authored.
Information from without, and the understanding
that it encourages, are filtered and excluded
whenever inconvenient. Instead, it is the
introverted world of self-delusion alone that
sources our distorted cognitive maps.
America’s political elites have fostered a
phantasmagoric approach to the world as
increasingly is evident. Its multiple
manifestations in regard to China seem to
include the unfounded belief that Beijing’s
leaders are bluffing when they solemnly avow
that moves toward Taiwan independence are
intolerable, that they are prepared to go to war
if necessary and expect to win any contest of
arms were it to occur. While it is more likely
that Washington is the one bluffing, our
greatest fear should be that Biden et al
actually think that they can intimidate China.
That conceit conforms to mythic notions of
Until now, the war-against-China imaginings have
been an elite pastime. The public has been kept
in the dark as three successive Presidents have
inched the country closer and closer to
conflict. How Americans react when they find
themselves on the brink is the crucial,
unknowable ‘X’ factor in the equation.
Alastair Crooke closes his essay with a rather
It seems that Russia and China, seeing all this,
will remain aloof and patient – waiting upon
structures to crack.
That crack in U.S. structures however may become
a very dangerous moment for Russia and China.
Professor Brenner thinks that only the threat of a
potentially very violent scenario can cause the
'structural crack' that brings things the U.S. back
I fear that we’ll need something like the Cuban
Missile Crisis of 1962 when the U.S. and Soviet
Union came to the brink of nuclear war in order
to get peoples’ heads screwed on straight. At
both the elite and popular level, it is only
fear of war that, on a purely pragmatic basis,
will break the comatose intellectual/political
state that the United States is in.
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