from Trita Parsi, with International Politics and Society
“With or without Trump, many Americans no longer see the US in the role of global policeman. Europe must take this seriously.” – Trita Parsi
[ Editor’s Note: Mr. Parsi has a timely geopolitical retrospective below, based not only on his own views but on extensive polling inside the US on the future of using American military power to ‘secure’ foreign policy objectives.
There are certainly power blocks inside the US who have used US military engagement to suck down huge resources from the American economy.
That has been put on display throughout 2021 via Biden’s smart emphasis to finally take on the multi decade rebuilding of the US infrastructure, where the long term bang for the buck would be many times that looted during foreign adventures.
The Republicans are smart enough to know that while Build Back Better would be of major benefit to their respective states, they do not want Biden and the national Democrats to get credit for it.
That would threaten the Trumper plans to install their Republican eternal rule via their new concept of legally rigging elections forever, a bullet in the head to our historical concept of democracy. This is their attitude, despite Trump and his party never getting an infrastructure bill passed during his term.
Trita has the most full and concise analysis of this foreign policy challenge of our time, where our decision will affect trading partners and the future of all Americans.
Despite the huge distraction with our being in the middle of a political fight to the death, we must keep an eye out for avoiding foreign quagmires that are generally orchestrated to line the pockets of the few, at the expense of the many. Thus ends my cheery missive for today… Jim W. Dean ]
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First published January 12, 2022
One year into the Joe Biden administration and most of the world has accepted two realities. First, America is not back, and Biden’s slogans notwithstanding, there simply is no going back to the pre-Trump era.
Secondly, whether America keeps troops in various parts of the world or brings them home, America’s will to fight is by and large no longer there. Its implications for the trans-Atlantic relationship will be profound. Europe would be wise to pro-actively adjust its defence policies accordingly.
American decision-makers have long warned allies and partners that the United States must reduce its security obligations, lighten its military footprints in certain regions and that greater burden-sharing is inescapable.
But US allies have largely ignored these warnings and pleas. Perhaps because the United States itself has sent mixed messages: When Europe begins to talk about strategic autonomy, Washington has a meltdown. When Europe continues to rely on the US’s security umbrella, American leaders rebuke Europe for freeriding.
Until Donald Trump became president, there was an equilibrium between American complaints about insufficient European defence spending and European rhetoric about strategic autonomy.
The Trump presidency upended the balance. Trump lambasted America’s wars in the Middle East, asserting that the deserts of Syria were not worth fighting – or dying for. ‘They’ve got a lot of sand over there,’ he said in 2019. ‘So there’s a lot of sand there that they can play with.’
When Saudi oil refineries were attacked by drones (most likely by Iran), Trump chose not to retaliate on behalf of the Saudi Kingdom. ‘I’m somebody that would like not to have war,’ Trump said, prompting many in the Washington establishment to accuse him of abandoning the Carter doctrine.
Europe didn’t fare much better, with Trump openly questioning the utility of NATO and leaving its European allies uncertain as to whether he would honour America’s Article V obligations.
The American people want a new foreign policy
Understandably, many US allies wished that Trump simply was an aberration. A statistical freak nightmare that soon would be over. What many allies failed to grasp was that decades of unjustified, unsuccessful, and endless wars had turned the American electorate against the idea of the United States playing the role of world policeman.
Trump neither started this trend, nor did he necessarily enhance it. He did, however, channel the electorate’s frustration with the direction of American foreign policy and the lack of accountability for those who had dragged the US into these wars.
Numerous polls show that the American public has significantly turned against America’s adventurist foreign policy and in favour of giving precedence to its many problems at home first.
According to the Eurasia Foundation Group (EGF), which has polled the American public’s views on these matters annually since 2018, a plurality of Democrats and Republicans believe peace is best achieved and sustained by ‘keeping a focus on the domestic needs and the health of American democracy, while avoiding unnecessary intervention beyond the borders of the United States.’
Moreover, twice as many Americans want to decrease the defence budget than increase it. This view is particularly strong among younger Americans.
Tellingly, Americans have become increasingly sceptical of the use of military force for matters beyond defending the American homeland. In the 2020 EGF poll, only roughly 20 percent of the American public supported the US acting unilaterally and militarily to stop human rights abuses overseas.
‘A majority are sceptical of humanitarian intervention and opt instead for military restraint or a reliance on multilateral organisations, or not intervening at all,’ EGF writes.
Consequently, the Doha agreement between the United States and the Taliban enjoyed significant support among Americans of all political persuasions, with only 8.2 per cent opposing it in 2020. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of Americans who favoured staying in Afghanistan till all enemies were defeated almost halved, from 29.7 to 15.5 per cent.
And though most Americans disapproved of how President Biden handled the Afghan withdrawal, a Washington Post-ABC News poll in September 2021 showed that a solid majority of 78 per cent supported the decision to withdraw despite – or perhaps because of – the ISIS terrorist attacks at Kabul airport during the withdrawal. Only 17 per cent of Americans opposed Biden’s decision.
The end of American exceptionalism
As much as Americans have turned against the generous use of military force, they have not turned inward or isolationist. On the contrary, support for international engagement – trade and diplomacy – is growing.
It’s just that Americans increasingly do not measure international engagement in terms of war. According to the EGF, 56 per cent of Americans want to increase diplomatic engagement with the world, while only 23 per cent favour a decrease.
But unlike before, Americans are increasingly in favour of talking directly to adversaries to try to avoid military confrontation (59.4 per cent), even if they are human rights abusers, dictators, or provide shelter to terrorist organisations.
Indeed, when it comes to the international agreements Trump exited, a solid majority of Americans favour returning to them according to the EGF: 70.9 per cent support re-joining the Paris Agreement, 65.6 per cent want to return to the Iran nuclear deal and 71.1 per cent support the US restoring its membership in the World Health Organization (WHO).
All this points to a trend of Americans increasingly desiring to be a normal country: One that engages in trade and diplomacy, limits its use of force to protecting the homeland rather than policing the world, while seeking to inspire other nations not through force or coercion, but rather through the strength of its own example.
The desire for normalcy is manifested in the dwindling belief that America is an exceptional country, particularly among its youth. The 2020 EGF poll shows that while three quarters of Americans older than 60 years still regard the United States as an exceptional nation, only 46.4 per cent of Americans aged 18-29 share that sentiment.
Where does Europe fit in?
There is little to suggest that these trends will reverse anytime soon. Rather, as the younger generation of Americans mature and reach positions of power and older Americans who still view their country as indispensable retire, America’s foreign policy is likely to further shift away from militarism and global hegemony.
Over the next few years, we are likely to see a lively debate to redefine America’s vital interests globally. America will continue to fight for what matters, but what matters is now up for debate.
Inertia and other political factors may slow down the process of lightening America’s military footprint in regions of dwindling strategic importance – such as the Middle East – but the loss of will to fight will prompt regional powers to act as if the US already has left. This phenomenon is already visible in the Middle East today.
Whether and how much Europe matters to America going forward remains to be seen. But the fact that America’s active military backing no longer can be taken for granted – Trump or no Trump – should suffice for Europe to start taking the writing on the wall seriously.
Trita Parsi is co-founder and Executive Vice President of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.
Jim W. Dean is VT Editor Emeritus. He was an active editor on VT from 2010-2022. He was involved in operations, development, and writing, plus an active schedule of TV and radio interviews. He now writes and posts periodically for VT.
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I have noticed ads for employment at DCAA looking for contract auditors, being played on some of the more well known cop auditor channels. Not sure if it means much, but chasing the birds and possums away from the trough would be a good start.
There are a high percentage of cop watchers/auditors and engaged audience, that are military veterans. The other day, I found 6 out of 13 in one chat were veterans, including the one streaming. It seems everyone wants to fix what we have here, not guard the opium for the queen.
Mr. Jim Dean-
Dear Sir, I wonder why more “Desert Storm” And Afghanistan Veterans don’t comment on your really good editorials?
I wish They would!
Their Voices matter now more than ever.
I just checked out VT before and never commented because I didn’t,
think I could write good enough.
But now I just post comments and It is sort of like having pen pals
all over the world.
I don’t remember how long I’ve been here, 3-4 years probably. It was like that when I was here. If you look at the statistics of reading articles, then on average 1K-1.5K people view articles. About 30-50 people comment. Everyone has their own knowledge, interests, thoughts. There are very serious articles, global (like Galima Galiulina and the editors-in-chief, Fabio), which do not generate comments for various reasons. Including for reasons of lack of knowledge, interest, etc. But an article about a UFO or a Loch Ness monster can collect a lot of comments. On these topics, anyone can chatter incessantly. I think most (American) veterans are sitting in the information trenches and just watching.
Gordon Duff’s articles get a very good response when he has an artistic or historical narrative about real events of the past. What he saw with his own eyes. The war, good old America, culture, the events of his youth. Such articles are worth a lot. On Russian similar military sites, almost every article collects an average of 100-200 comments. Russians are very active there, because many of them are military, scientists, specialists from different fields.
I consider one inconvenience on our VT – there are no notifications that someone has answered something personally to someone. Then the articles go into the archive.
Some of us are just sad sacks watching for no telling what happens next. 🤠
Not enough Americans want “adventurism” abroad? Just stage another 9/11-style false-flag attack and our brain-washed population will support anything that’s put before them. How many Americans were in favor of invading Afghanistan in August of 2001? By the end of September 80% were all for it.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) was the lone ‘no’ vote in Congress against that war. At the time, she was reviled for being unpatriotic, even receiving death threats. “When I voted ‘no,’ I said it was a blank check and would set the stage for perpetual war, and that’s what it’s done,” she said. How right she was
First step for a-rabs to understand diplomacy: keep your enemies close.
Democrats in the US have been trying to teach this to the Likudniks for decades to no avail.
What happened to the anti-War motif we had going on for a while?
Or is that satire is a foreign language to “Never the Smartest one in the room”
I should put that on my Tombstone.
Any anti a-rab sentiment means the real 911 perps won. Dummies.
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