Foreign policy of the United States
The officially stated goals of the foreign policy of the United States, including all the Bureaus and Offices in the United States Department of State, as mentioned in the Foreign Policy Agenda of the Department of State, are "to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community". In addition, the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs states as some of its jurisdictional goals: "export controls, including nonproliferation of nuclear technology and nuclear hardware; measures to foster commercial interaction with foreign nations and to safeguard American business abroad; international commodity agreements; international education; and protection of American citizens abroad and expatriation". U.S. foreign policy has been the subject of much debate, praise, and criticism, both domestically and abroad.
- Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her [America's] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will recommend the general cause, by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself, beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force…. She might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.
- John Quincy Adams, An Address … Celebrating the Anniversary of Independence, at the City of Washington on the Fourth of July 1821 (1821), p. 32. This appears with minor variations in punctuation and with italics in the phrase "change from liberty to force," in Walter LaFeber, ed., John Quincy Adams and American Continental Empire (1965), p. 45.
- We have effectively given up on trying to block the president's criticisms of our friends. It can't be helped. He wants to say whatever he wants to say, as he does on any other issue. If anything, when he's told not to say something- to avoid criticizing a leader directly, for instance, or to keep himself from breaking a promise we've made- Trump will say it louder. After these outbursts, it's embarrassing for Trump lieutenants who need to ask the same foreign partners for help on something, whether it is to catch a wanted criminal or to support the United States in an important vote at the United Nations. Imagine someone announced to a crowd that you were a "pompous fool" and then rang you up for a favor. That's the sort of cool reception American officials receive all the time in foreign meetings. President Trump does more than humiliate America's friends. He takes actions or threatens to take actions that will damage them in the long run. For example, Trump has hit Western partners with trade penalties, invoking "national security" provisions of US law to counter what he says are unfair economic practices in places such as Europe. He was on the brink of pulling out of a trade deal with South Korea in the midst of tense discussions on North Korea, putting the US ally in an awkward position. He threatened to scrap a longstanding US defense treaty with Japan, speculating that if America was attacked, the Japanese would not come to our aid but would instead "watch it on a Sony television." And he regularly threatens to discard existing or pending international agreements with our friends in order to get them to do what he wants, including displaying personal fealty towards him.
- You can't overstate how damaging these presidential whims are to US security. Has it caused us to take a major credibility hit overseas? You bet. We see it all the time. Our closest partners are more guarded toward us than ever before, and it causes dissension within our own team. Every time he back-hands an ally, top officials complain it's not worth bringing up foreign policy developments anymore with the president, for fear that he'll kick over the LEGO structures diplomats have patiently built alongside our partners. "There's no way I'm raising that in the oval office with him," someone might say. "You know it will set him off." This isn't helpful either. The president shouldn't be kept in the dark, yet people worry informing him will cause more harm than good. Others have just decided to resign, unwilling to be party to the dissolution of America's alliances.
- President Trump has repeatedly astounded advisors by saying he wants to exit our biggest alliance of them all: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This would be a huge gift to the Russians, who have long opposed the twenty-nine-nation group. NATO has been the backbone of international security for more than a half century, but the president tells us we are "getting raped" because other countries are spending far less than the United States to be a part of it, adding that the organization is "obsolete." The president is correct that a number of nations aren't spending enough on defense and that America has carried the overwhelming military burden. But the United States is also the most powerful nation on earth, and the investments we make in the NATO alliance allow us to project our influence globally to stop danger before it comes our way. Leaving the alliance would not only be foolish but suicidal- an advertisement to foreign enemies that it's open season against Western countries, each left to fend for themselves.
- I suppose some Americans don't care about foreign policy until a threat reaches our shores. They should care, because the actions we take abroad- or don't take- determine whether the United States is safe in the long run. Our friends are among the best stockades against foreign hostility. We're talking about countries that come to our aid when disaster strikes; that stand up for us in contentious international disputes; that protect our ships, planes, and people; and that are willing to fight and die alongside our troops in remote deserts. They are not, as Trump will tell anyone who cares to listen, out to screw us. We need them. Will Durant argued that the laws of nature- including "the survival of the fittest"- apply to global politics. In nature, cooperation is one of the keys to winning any competition. We cooperate within our families, our communities, and societies in order to overcome threats. We must do the same on the world stage, sticking close to our allies so the United States not only survives, but thrives. But they no longer trust us. Why should they? Like anyone else, they can't predict the president's erratic behavior, and they find his attitude toward them demeaning. I know he lies to their faces (or on the phone) by offering false assurances of his support. He exposes sensitive discussions we have with them, and he tries to bully them into submission. Consequently, many are planning for life without the United States or, worse, how to deal with us as a competitor. The president of the European Council tweeted a viewpoint shared by many of his colleagues in May 2018, writing, "Looking at the latest decisions of @realDonaldTrump someone could even think: with friends like that who needs enemies."
- Maintaining a war machine that outspends the 12 or 13 next largest militaries in the world combined actually makes us less safe, as each new administration inherits the delusion that the United States' overwhelmingly destructive military power can, and therefore should, be used to confront any perceived challenge to U.S. interests anywhere in the world — even when there is clearly no military solution and when many of the underlying problems were caused by past misapplications of U.S. military power in the first place.
While the international challenges we face in this century require a genuine commitment to international cooperation and diplomacy, Congress allocates only $58 billion, less than 10 percent of the Pentagon budget, to the diplomatic corps of our government: the State Department. Even worse, both Democratic and Republican administrations keep filling top diplomatic posts with officials indoctrinated and steeped in policies of war and coercion, with scant experience and meager skills in the peaceful diplomacy we so desperately need.
- This only perpetuates a failed foreign policy based on false choices between economic sanctions that UN officials have compared to medieval sieges, coups that destabilize countries and regions for decades, and wars and bombing campaigns that kill millions of people and leave cities in rubble, like Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. The end of the Cold War was a golden opportunity for the U.S. to reduce its forces and military budget to match its legitimate defense needs. The American public naturally expected and hoped for a "peace dividend," and even veteran Pentagon officials told the Senate Budget Committee in 1991 that military spending could safely be cut by 50% over the next 10 years.
But no such cut happened. U.S. officials instead set out to exploit the post-Cold War "power dividend," a huge military imbalance in favor of the United States, by developing rationales for using military force more freely and widely around the world. During the transition to the new Clinton administration, Madeleine Albright famously asked Gen. Colin Powell, then chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "What's the point of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it?" In 1999, as secretary of state under Bill Clinton, Albright got her wish, running roughshod over the UN Charter with an illegal war to carve out an independent Kosovo from the ruins of Yugoslavia.
- The U.S. corporate media usually report on Israeli military assaults in occupied Palestine as if the United States is an innocent neutral party to the conflict. In fact, large majorities of Americans have told pollsters for decades that they want the United States to be neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But U.S. media and politicians betray their own lack of neutrality by blaming Palestinians for nearly all the violence and framing flagrantly disproportionate, indiscriminate and therefore illegal Israeli attacks as a justifiable response to Palestinian actions.
The classic formulation from U.S. officials and commentators is that "Israel has the right to defend itself," never "Palestinians have the right to defend themselves," even as the Israelis massacre hundreds of Palestinian civilians, destroy thousands of Palestinian homes and seize ever more Palestinian land... US policy must be reversed to reflect international law and the shifting US opinion in favor of Palestinian rights. Every Member of Congress must be pushed to sign the bill introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum insisting that US funds to Israel are not used "to support the military detention of Palestinian children, the unlawful seizure, appropriation, and destruction of Palestinian property and forcible transfer of civilians in the West Bank, or further annexation of Palestinian land in violation of international law." Congress must also be pressured to quickly enforce the Arms Export Control Act and the Leahy Laws to stop supplying any more U.S. weapons to Israel until it stops using them to attack and kill civilians.
- As we have seen, in the years 1945-1990, a loose network of US-backed anti-communist extermination programs emerged around the world, and they carried out mass murder in at least 22 countries. There was no central plan, no master control room where the whole thing was orchestrated, but I think that the extermination programs in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, East Timor, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, the Philippines, South Korea, Sudan, Taiwan, Thailand, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Vietnam should be seen as interconnected, and a crucial part of the US victory in the Cold War. (I am not including direct military engagements or even innocent people killed as "collateral damage" in war.) The men carrying out purposeful executions of dissidents and unarmed civilians learned from each other. They adopted methods that were developed in other countries. Sometimes, they even named their operations after other programs they sought to emulate. I found evidence indirectly linking the metaphor "Jakarta," taken from the largest and most important of these programs, to at least eleven countries. But even the regimes that never influenced by that specific language would have been able to see, very clearly, what the Indonesian military had done and the success and prestige it enjoyed in the West afterward. And though some of these programs were wildly misdirected, and also swept up bystanders who posed no threat whatsoever, they did eliminate real opponents of the global project led by the United States.
- National Security Advisor John Bolton admitted during an interview with Fox News that Washington seeks “regime change” in Venezuela to benefit US corporations.
The Trump administration has in its incompetence brought to the fore how US foreign policy can be both highly destructive while simultaneously an utter failure – even on its own narrow terms... The memory of failure in Venezuela will reverberate for many decades to come and make these allies think twice next time they are asked to support the next US foreign escapade.
- The USA is the world's foremost economic and military power, with global interests and an unmatched global reach. America's gross domestic product accounts for close to a quarter of the world total, and its military budget is reckoned to be almost as much as the rest of the world's defence spending put together... U.S. foreign policy has often mixed the idealism of its 'mission' to spread democracy with the pursuit of national self-interest. Given America's leading role on the international stage, its foreign policy aims and actions are likely to remain the subject of heated debate and criticism, as well as praise.
- U.S. engagements in the world over the past 20 years reveal a grim record of failed ventures. Most have been caused by unrealistic goals, blinkered views of the field of action, overweening pride, an ignorance of foreign places and their history, and an unseemly readiness to take complacent comfort in fantasy worlds that exist only in its own imagination. In short, American foreign policy has been misguided – badly and consistently misguided.
The inevitable frustrations and failures owe equally to sheer incompetence. An endless string of errors – diplomatic, military and political – is as difficult for the nation to reconcile with its ‘can-do’ self-image as is the admission of the glaring discrepancy between the belief in the country’s providential mission and its increasingly evident ordinariness.
Vince Lombardi, the legendary American football coach, is often quoted as declaring: “Victory is not the most important thing; it’s the only thing.” That has been an implicit American motto from the beginning. However, in the global arena over the past generation, the U.S. has been setting records for failure and futility.
- Michael Brenner, "Lowering the Throne of America’s Delusion", Consortium News January 5, 2022
- An abysmal record unmatched since the infamous performance of the WW I generals on the Western front – equally honored with medals and laurels... This long litany of failure and incompetence is overshadowed by the strategic blindness of treating Russia and China as implacable enemies. By doing so, Washington has not only obviated any alternative strategy for developing a stable, long-term relationship. It has also cemented a formidable power bloc that is now well able to contest the United States in whatever sphere it wants to cross swords with. This mosaic of misconceived strategy and rampantly amateurish maneuvers strongly suggests that America’s foreign policy elites are living in a delusional world – dissociated from reality.
- Michael Brenner, "Lowering the Throne of America’s Delusion", Consortium News January 5, 2022
- As mainstream news outlets become increasingly complacent, and even supportive of pro-war policies, it becomes more essential that anti-war voices, and anti-war journalists in particular, resist the attempt by the United States to set the precedent that the act of publishing war crimes is a punishable offense.
After 20 years of the United States military destroying entire countries under the guise of fighting terrorism, there is finally a partial reckoning with U.S. warmongering around the world. It cannot be said that Americans are particularly anti-war now, but at the very least, Biden’s decision to pull U.S. troops from Afghanistan was widely popular across the political spectrum. Yet, many news outlets instead chose to emphasize the minority position on Afghanistan by prioritizing commentary from interventionists and weapons lobbyists over anti-war scholars and activists, and by falsely representing the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan as a positive. This sudden emphasis on the supposedly positive role of U.S. occupation in Afghanistan is a particularly dangerous line for journalists to push considering how little effort the U.S. media placed on covering the conflict prior to withdrawal. In contrast to publications that take such a careless or outright supportive stance on the irreparable harm of U.S. foreign policy are WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Following his view that “if wars can be started with lies, they can be stopped by truth,” Assange has published some of the most vital information on U.S. foreign policy of the 21st century with perfect accuracy. Some of the information provided to the public (thanks to the anonymous online source submission system developed by Assange) includes the CIA rendition program, detainee abuse at Guantanamo Bay, and U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and more. It is this view on publishing which understands war as something to be exposed and resisted that has made Assange such a hated figure by warmongers in the United States.
Despite the many problems with the mainstream press, journalism as an institution remains one of the most effective methods of resisting, and at times, ending wars. Even those distrustful of the press should be willing to oppose attacks on the right to a free press when such attacks occur. It is the guarantee of press freedom that enables anti-war reporting to make its way into the mainstream at times, shifting people's understanding of what their government does.
- A twenty-year war of terrorism was waged against Cuba. Cuba has probably been the target of more international terrorism than the rest of the world combined and, therefore, in the American ideological system it is regarded as the source of international terrorism, exactly as Orwell would have predicted. And now there’s a war against Nicaragua.
The impact of all of this has been absolutely horrendous. There’s vast starvation throughout the region while crop lands are devoted to exports to the United States. There’s slave labor, crushing poverty, torture, mass murder, every horror you can think of. In El Salvador alone, from October 1979 (a date to which I’ll return) until December 1981 — approximately two years — about 30,000 people were murdered and about 600,000 refugees created. Those figures have about doubled since. Most of the murders were carried out by U.S.-backed military forces, including so-called death squads. The efficiency of the massacre in El Salvador has recently increased with direct participation of American military forces. American planes based in Honduran and Panamanian sanctuaries, military aircraft, now coordinate bombing raids over El Salvador, which means that the Salvadoran air force can more effectively kill fleeing peasants and destroy villages, and, in fact, the kill rate has gone up corresponding to that.
Noam Chomsky; Is China Really a Threat? Noam Chomsky Slams Biden For Increasingly Provocative Actions in Region, Democracy Now!, (November 23, 2021)
- Biden has pretty much picked up Trump’s foreign policy. He has eliminated some of the more gratuitously savage elements. Like in the case of Palestine, for example, Trump was not satisfied with just giving everything away to Israeli right-wing power—”do what you want”—and offering nothing to the Palestinians, just kicking them in the face. He even had to go beyond that to truly gratuitous savagery like cutting off the lifeline, the UNRWA lifeline, for Palestinians to be able to have at least minimal bare survival in the Israeli punching bag in Gaza. Even that, well, Biden removed those things. Other than that, pretty much followed the same policies.
- The worst case is the increasing provocative actions towards China... there is constant talk about what is called the China threat. You can read it in sober, reasonable, usually reasonable journals, about the terrible China threat, and that we have to move expeditiously to contain and limit the China threat.... What exactly is the China threat? Actually that question is rarely raised here....
the distinguished statesman, former [Australian] Prime Minister Paul Keating, did have an essay in the Australian press about the China threat. He finally concluded realistically that the China threat is China’s existence. The U.S. will not tolerate the existence of a state that cannot be intimidated the way Europe can be, that does not follow U.S. orders the way Europe does but pursues its own course. That is the threat.
When we talk about the threat of China, we’re talking about the alleged threats at China’s borders. China does plenty of wrong things, terrible things. You can make many criticisms. But are they a threat?... they are not a threat.
- Right at the same time as Keating’s article, Australia’s leading military correspondent Brian Toohey, highly knowledgeable, did an assessment of the relative military power of China, in their own region of China and the United States and its allies Japan and Australia. It’s laughable. One U.S. Trident submarine, now being replaced by even more lethal ones — one U.S. submarine can destroy almost 200 cities anywhere in the world with its nuclear weapons. China in the South China Sea has four old noisy submarines which can’t even get out because they’re contained by superior U.S. and Allied Force...
In the face of this, the United States is sending a fleet of nuclear submarines to Australia. That’s the AUKUS deal—the Australia, U.K., United States—which have no strategic purpose whatsoever.
They will not even be in operation for 15 years, but they do incite China almost certainly to build up its lagging military forces, increasing the level of confrontation. There are problems in the South China Sea that can be met with diplomacy and negotiations, the regional powers taking the lead, could go into the details.
But the right measure is not increasing provocation, increasing the threat of an accidental development which could lead to devastating, even Earthly-terminal nuclear war. But that is the direction the Biden administration is following, expansion of the Trump programs. That is the core of their foreign policy programs.
- The inability of the United States to comprehend what it was becoming involved in when... it declared a Global War on Terror, has to be reckoned one of the singular failures of national security policy over the past twenty years. Not only did the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq make bad situations worse, but the fact that no one is Washington was able to define “victory” and think in terms of an exit strategy has meant that the wars and instability are still with us. In their wake has been hundreds of thousands of deaths and trillions of dollars spent to accomplish absolutely nothing.
As a result, Iraq is unstable and leans more heavily towards America’s adversary Iran than it does to Washington. The Iraqi Parliament has, in fact, asked U.S. forces to leave the country, a request that has been ignored both by Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Trump actually threatened to freeze Iraqi bank assets to pressure the Iraqis into accepting the continued U.S. occupation. At the same time, American troops illegally present in neighboring Syria, continue to occupy that country’s oil fields to deprive the government in Damascus of much needed resources. Neither Iraq nor Syria threatens the United States in any way.
- One might suggest that there is mistrust about the reliability of Joe Biden and company as a strategic partner... Nevertheless, Washington’s bullying in Iraq, Syria and also against Iran has failed to convince anyone that the U.S. Air Force would make a good neighbor.
- All this saber-rattling is despicable. Neither Russia nor Iran threaten the U.S. and there is no reason why the U.S. should be eager to defend Taiwan or Ukraine (and also Israel). China’s military budget is miniscule compared to the U.S. and the only real threat it represents is as a competitor on world markets, where it is already dominant in a number of key sectors. The U.S. has to get off this global dominance militarism wagon but how do we do it when both major parties embrace it?
- Philip Giraldi quoted in In truth the U.S has become a weak and therefore dangerous country, By Martin Love, Tehran Times, December 5, 2021
- The United States is on pace to spend over $7 trillion over the next ten years for the Pentagon. To put that number in perspective, the U.S. spends more each year on the military than China, Russia, India, the U.K., Germany, France, Japan, South Korea and Australia combined. While Republicans and Democrats are in sharp disagreements over the much smaller Build Back Better legislation, there is largely a bipartisan consensus when it comes to the military budget and foreign military intervention...
- In sum, the post-World War II foreign policy of the U.S. — independent of its massive human rights violations committed over and over around the world — has been predicated on overthrowing democratically elected governments and, even more so, supporting, aligning with, and propping up brutal dictators. This policy has been applied all over the world, on multiple continents and by every administration. It is impossible to understand even the most basic aspects of the U.S. role in the world without knowing that.
- Terror, intimidation and violence are the glue that holds empire together. Aerial bombardment, drone and missile attacks, artillery and mortar strikes, targeted assassinations, massacres, the detention of tens of thousands, death squad killings, torture, wholesale surveillance, extraordinary renditions, curfews, propaganda, a loss of civil liberties and pliant political puppets are the grist of our wars and proxy wars.
- Countries we seek to dominate, from Indonesia and Guatemala to Iraq and Afghanistan, are intimately familiar with these brutal mechanisms of control. But the reality of empire rarely reaches the American public. The few atrocities that come to light are dismissed as isolated aberrations. The public is assured what has been uncovered will be investigated and will not take place again. The goals of empire, we are told by a subservient media and our ruling elites, are virtuous and noble. And the vast killing machine grinds forward, feeding, as it has always done, the swollen bank accounts of defense contractors and corporations that exploit natural resources and cheap labor around the globe.
- When all else fails... You must manufacture an existential threat. Terrorists at home. Russians and Chinese abroad. Expand state power in the name of national security. Beat the drums of war. War is the antidote to divert public attention from government corruption and incompetence... The US is a de facto one-party state where the ideology of national security is sacrosanct, unsustainable debt props up the empire and the primary business is war. ...An economic crisis means a political crisis. And a political crisis is traditionally solved by war against enemies inside and outside the nation. The Democrats are as guilty of this as the Republicans.... Wars can get started by Democrats... and perpetuated by Republicans. Or they can get started by Republicans... and perpetuated by Democrats...
The war industry, with its $768 billion military budget, along with the expansion of Homeland Security, the FBI, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the National Security Agency, is a bipartisan project.
- The Democrats, like the Republicans, embrace the fantasy that, even as the country stands on the brink of insolvency, a war industry that has orchestrated debacle after debacle, from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq, is going to restore lost American global hegemony. Empires, as Reinhold Niebuhr observed, eventually “destroy themselves in the effort to prove that they are indestructible.” The self-delusion of military invincibility is the scourge that brought down the American empire, as it brought down past empires.
We live in a one-party state. The ideology of national security is sacrosanct. The cult of secrecy, justified in the name of protecting us from our enemies, is a smoke screen to hide from the public the inner workings of power and manipulate public perceptions. The Democratic courtiers and advisers that surround any Democratic presidential candidate – the retired generals and diplomats, the former national security advisers, the Wall Street economists, the lobbyists, and the apparatchiks from past administrations – do not want to curb the power of the imperial presidency. They do not want to restore the system of checks and balances. They do not want to challenge the military or the national security state. They are the system.
- The US domination of the world economy, after 75 years, is over. It is not coming back. We manufacture little, short of weapons. Our economy is a mirage build on unsustainable levels of debt. The pillage orchestrated by the capitalist elites and corporations has hollowed the country out from the inside, leaving the infrastructure decayed, democratic institutions moribund and at least half the population struggling at subsistence level. The two ruling parties, puppets for the ruling oligarchs, refuse to curb the rapacious appetites of the war industry and the rich, accelerating the crisis. That the rage of the dispossessed is legitimate, even if it is expressed in inappropriate ways, is never acknowledged by the Democrats, who were instrumental in pushing through the trade deals, deindustrialization, tax loopholes for the rich, deficit spending, endless wars and austerity programs that have created crisis. Instead, shooting the messenger, the Biden administration is targeting Trump supporters and winning draconian sentences for those who stormed the capital on January 6. Biden’s Justice Department has formed a domestic terrorism unit to focus on extremists and Democrats have been behind a series of moves to de-platform and censor their right-wing critics.
- The war state needs enemies to sustain itself. When an enemy can’t be found, an enemy is manufactured. Putin has become, in the words of Senator Angus King, the new Hitler, out to grab Ukraine and the rest of Eastern Europe. The full-throated cries for war, echoed shamelessly by the press, are justified by draining the conflict of historical context, by elevating ourselves as the saviors and whoever we oppose, from Saddam Hussein to Putin, as the new Nazi leader.
- If we dig behind the rhetoric, it becomes clear that Western support for right-wing coups had little to do with Cold War ideology, and certainly nothing to do with promoting democracy (quite the opposite!); the goal, rather, was to defend Western economic interests. The veil of the Cold War has obscured this blunt fact from view.
- With regard to nuclear weapons, the situation is far more dangerous than the last Doomsday Clock report. New weapons systems under development are much more effectively dangerous. The Biden administration, expanding upon Trump’s confrontational approach, has Chomsky at a loss for words to describe the danger at hand. Only recently, Biden met with NATO leaders and instructed them to plan on two wars, China and Russia. According to Chomsky: “This is beyond insanity.” Not only that, the group is carrying out provocative acts when diplomacy is really needed. This is an extraordinarily dangerous situation.
According to Chomsky, the Doomsday Clock setting at 100 seconds to midnight is based upon: (1) global warming (2) nuclear war and (3) disinformation, or the collapse of any kind of rational discourse. As such, number three makes it impossible to deal with the first two major problems... As a result, Chomsky says: “We’re living in a world of total illusion and fantasy... Unless this is dealt with soon, it’ll be impossible to deal with the two major issues within the time span that we have available, which is not very long.”
- All this talk about qualifications..."What do blacks know about foreign policy?" It's an insult. I was three years old, I came into my consciousness, my Daddy was coming home from the war. Foreign policy. If he was so dumb, how did he get over there and get back? If he didn't know foreign policy, why did they give him a gun? And when they gave it to him he knew which way to shoot. We know foreign policy. When you buy Honda and Toyota, that's foreign policy. Russian Vodka, that's foreign policy. Panasonic and Sony, that's foreign policy. Mercedes Benz, that's foreign policy, and a matter of fact, we came here on a foreign policy!
- The desire to preserve our country from the calamities and ravages of war, by cultivating a disposition, and pursuing a conduct, conciliatory and friendly to all nations, has been sincerely entertained and faithfully followed. It was dictated by the principles of humanity, the precepts of the gospel, and the general wish of our country, and it was not to be doubted that the Society of Friends, with whom it is a religious principle, would sanction it by their support.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Messrs. Thomas, Ellicot, and others, November 13, 1807.—The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. H. A. Washington, vol. 8, p. 118 (1871).
- It is, therefore, with the sincerest pleasure I have observed on the part of the British government various manifestations of a just and friendly disposition towards us; we wish to cultivate peace and friendship with all nations, believing that course most conducive to the welfare of our own; it is natural that these friendships should bear some proportion to the common interests of the parties.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Sir John Sinclair, July 31, 1816.—The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Andrew A. Lipscomb, vol. 15, p. 54 (1904).
- Peace, commerce, and honest friendship, with all nations—entangling alliances with none.
- Thomas Jefferson, inaugural address, March 4, 1801.—The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Andrew A. Lipscomb, vol. 3, p. 321 (1904).
- There is one question today that is more important than any other question that could possibly be asked, and it’s this: Is what the U.S. and its allies are trying to accomplish in Ukraine worth continually risking nuclear armageddon for? ...Well? Is it? It’s not really a question you can just compartmentalize away from if you have integrity. It demands to be answered. Is it worth it to continue along this trajectory? Is it? Is it really? Perhaps there might be some things that would be worth risking the life of every creature on earth to obtain, but is refusing to concede to Moscow’s demands in Ukraine one of them? Whatever your values are, whatever your analysis is, whatever beliefs you’ve been holding to justify your support for the west’s side of this conflict, will you still proudly stand by them if you look outside and see a mushroom cloud growing in the distance?
- By this I mean that a political society does not live to conduct foreign policy; it would be more correct to say that it conducts foreign policy in order to live.
- George F. Kennan, "The Two Planes of International Reality," Realities of American Foreign Policy, p. 4 (1954). This was originally delivered as the first of the Stafford Little Lectures, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, March 1954.
- Now this problem of the adjustment of man to his natural resources, and the problem of how such things as industrialization and urbanization can be accepted without destroying the traditional values of a civilization and corrupting the inner vitality of its life—these things are not only the problems of America; they are the problems of men everywhere. To the extent that we Americans become able to show that we are aware of these problems, and that we are approaching them with coherent and effective ideas of our own which we have the courage to put into effect in our own lives, to that extent a new dimension will come into our relations with the peoples beyond our borders, to that extent, in fact, the dreams of these earlier generations of Americans who saw us as leaders and helpers to the peoples of the world at large will begin to take on flesh and reality.
- George F. Kennan, "The Unifying Factor," Realities of American Foreign Policy, p. 116 (1954). Originally delivered as the fourth of the Stafford Little Lectures, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, March 1954.
- The purpose of foreign policy is not to provide an outlet for our own sentiments of hope or indignation; it is to shape real events in a real world.
- John F. Kennedy, address at the Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah, September 26, 1963.—Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, p. 736.
- To those peoples in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required—not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
- John F. Kennedy, inaugural address, January 20, 1961.—Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, p. 1.
- Our [U.S.] demand for restraint in foreign policy must be stronger than defense contractor lobbyists. Our demand for criminal justice reform must be stronger than the prison-industrial complex.
- When [U.S.] progressives remain silent and don’t talk about why the war in Syria is illegal, then into the void step in neocons like Lindsey Graham. Any wonder that our nation remains mired in endless war. Let’s have the guts to stand for responsible withdrawal.
- Here’s something that the [Western] mainstream media has left out when talking about Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from Syria: Congress never authorized sending troops to Syria. In fact, the UN also never approved. Our troops in Syria are in violation of domestic and international law.
- The challenges before us are monumental. But it is not every generation that is given the opportunity to shape a new international order. If the opportunity is missed, we shall live in a world of chaos and danger. If it is realized we will have entered an era of peace and progress and justice. But we can realize our hopes only as a united people.
- Henry Kissinger, secretary of state, speech to Boston World Affairs Council, Boston, Massachusetts, March 11, 1976. Excerpts of official text, The New York Times, March 12, 1976, p. 4.
- Unfortunately, it’s US “diplomacy” which brought the US, Russia, Ukraine, and NATO to the current standoff. As the Warsaw Pact disintegrated and the Soviet Union collapsed, US encouragement for those events included pledges that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization wouldn’t take advantage of the situation to expand eastward. Since then, NATO has inexorably pushed in that direction, nearly doubling the number of member states. Thanks, US “diplomacy.”... Things began coming to a head with the US-sponsored coup in Ukraine that replaced its “Russia-friendly” regime with a “US/Europe-friendly” regime in 2014, courtesy of Barack Obama. Thanks, US “diplomacy.”
Then in 2019, the US withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which forbade the US to place missiles within surprise strike distance of Russia, and Russia to place similar missiles within surprise strike distance of NATO. The US followed up by placing exactly such missiles in Poland, courtesy of Donald Trump. Some “diplomacy.”... Then the US went into overdrive (courtesy of Trump and Biden) against the opening of a pipeline (Nord Stream 2) which would have supplied Russian natural gas to Germany. The pipeline would have been a force for peace insofar as Russia likes to sell natural gas (at a fraction of prices the US can offer), and Germans like to not freeze to death.
- Ukraine: US “Diplomacy” is the Problem. Can it Become the Solution? Thomas Knapp, CounterPunch, February 23, 2022
- After weeks of unsuccessfully attempting to either bully Russia’s Vladimir Putin into submission or bait him into war, US president Joe Biden may finally be looking for a face-saving exit from of the Ukraine “crisis” of his own making... Putin finally drew a red line at NATO membership for Ukraine specifically, and against the US definition of “diplomacy” — “do exactly as we demand, without question or objection, and we may consider deigning to allow you to kiss our feet for a little while before kicking you in the face again” — specifically. Bullies really, really, really hate to be told “no,” and tend to go into full bluster and posture mode at the first hint of that happening, which explains the Ukraine “crisis.” Unfortunately for THIS bully, Putin remains seemingly un-frightened. Even as the US and its poodles met in Munich, of all places, to issue more threats, he declined to play the role of Neville Chamberlain. So now Joe says he may be ready to talk. Whether the willingness is real, or just another exercise in fake “diplomacy,” remains to be seen. As does whether Putin will give Biden a graceful/deniable way out of this mess, or insist on rubbing his nose in the thick layer of filth US “diplomacy” has previously deposited on the ground. With two nuclear powers at loggerheads, the stakes are far too high for further attempts to disguise US hubris and megalomania as “diplomacy.”
- Thomas Knapp, Ukraine: US “Diplomacy” is the Problem. Can it Become the Solution? CounterPunch, February 23, 2022
- Some of the wars America fought were "simply for profit" and the sanctions it has imposed on certain countries have been as destructive as wars... The American people have virtually no say over when we go to war. These decisions are made in back rooms somewhere...The American people continue to be lied to about why we go to war, because again, one of the big reasons is simply for profit, and that's always been true to some extent, but now it is in a very naked way.
- [On the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan] From a strategic point of view, it has to be seen as a complete failure, and yet it went on for 20 years, why did it go on for 20 years? Because the defense industry companies that make the bombs, that make the planes, that make the vehicles, and also the private military contractors that now are fighting the wars in lieu of public military personnel, they made trillions of dollars as long as the war continued. So they didn't care if the war was ever won, the goal was for the war to simply continue forever... the point is not to win the war, but to make sure it never ends because you're going to keep making profits.
The U.S. is not advancing human rights through its military interventions. It's not advancing humanitarianism. In fact, it's undermining it in a huge way.
- The problems with Russia are not just NATO expansion. There were also a process that began with the second Bush administration of withdrawing from all of the arms control — almost all of the arms control agreements that we had concluded with the Soviet Union, the very agreements that had brought the first Cold War to an end.... In effect, what the United States did after the end of the Cold War was they reversed the diplomacy that we had used to end the Cold War, and started sort of doing anything, everything the opposite way. We started, in effect, trying to control other countries, to bring them into what we called the “new world order,” but it was not very orderly. And we also sort of asserted the right to use military whenever we wished. We bombed Serbia in the ’90s without the approval of the U.N. Later, we invaded Iraq, citing false evidence and without any U.N. approval and against the advice not only of Russia but of Germany and France, our allies. So, the United States — I could name a number of others — itself was not careful in abiding by the international laws that we had supported.
- The bitter truth is that Washington's foreign policy establishment never actually considered Zelensky - or his predecessor Poroshenko - to be allies or partners of the United States. Overflowing with a toxic mix of ignorance, arrogance, and extreme cynicism, Washington's elites have always viewed Ukraine as a tool to "regime-change" a Russia that, after its post-Yeltsin recovery, would no longer take its direction from them. The false gods of American exceptionalism are jealous ones indeed.
The American foreign policy establishment wanted a perpetual "Yanks to the Rescue" Russia, whereby US "consultants" and spooks would ensure that the most obsequious candidate would continue to win and rule. A string of Russian presidents who would, à la Shevardnadze and a whole string of other post-Soviet leaders, run the country like a family business: lots of biznis deals for family members...and maybe 10 percent for the "big guy." Americans are victims (willing or not) of a mass media system as propagandistic as any that existed during Soviet Communism.... When it became obvious that Yeltsin's one-time understudy, Vladimir Putin, wasn't going to play that way, the party line came down that he must be demonized. ...Putin had to be demonized and, ultimately, "regime-changed."... Discourse in the US is so infantile that just writing this objective truth will no doubt land this author in the "Putin's puppet" purgatory. Not for the first time.
- Daniel McAdams, Washington’s Crocodile Tears Over Ukraine’s Destruction, The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity February 26, 2022
- While anyone with an ounce of decency deeply regrets and opposes the use of such massive military force as we have seen recently in Ukraine, if there is one lesson to be learned from this entire miserable chapter (and by "chapter" I mean the entirety of post-Cold War US foreign policy) it is this: There are consequences that come with the belief that the key to peace and prosperity is to remake the world in your own image through the use of overt and covert, violent and non-violent means. That lesson should have been learned with the fall of Soviet communism itself, but the "victors" were too full of hubris to pause for a moment of humility. Wishing reality was one thing and accepting that it is another are two very different things. The distinction must be made or the mass mental illness of "American exceptionalism" can never be cured. Otherwise the consequences next time the tectonic plates shift may be far closer to home.
Whether America and the EU like it or not, the era of We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality" is well and truly over. Its end is not to be mourned but to be celebrated. The only pro-America foreign policy is non-intervention in the affairs of others.
- Daniel McAdams, Washington’s Crocodile Tears Over Ukraine’s Destruction, The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity February 26, 2022
- It was “wrong,” Nixon said, “to assume that the US should go around telling other countries how to arrange their political affairs.”
- Richard Nixon. NSC Files, Box 625, Country Files—Middle East, Pakistan, vol. IV, Nixon-Ahmad memcon, 10 May 1971. See NSC Files, Box 625, Country Files—Middle East, Pakistan, vol. IV, Ahmad-Kissinger memcon, 10 May 1971. quoted from Bass, G. J. (2014). The Blood telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a forgotten genocide.
- In April, Brown University’s Cost of War Project calculated the total cost of the Afghanistan war at more than two trillion dollars. That means millions of Americans have been made poorer for a predictably failed project. It also means that thousands of the well-connected contractors and companies that lurk around the US Capitol Beltway pushing war have become much, much richer. That’s US foreign policy in a nutshell: taking money from middle-class Americans and transferring it to the elites of the US military and foreign policy establishment. It’s welfare for the rich.
- The premise of U.S. foreign policy was that Suharto would serve Washington in a manner similar to the shah of Iran. The United States also hoped the nation would serve as a model for other countries in the region. Washington based part of its strategy on the assumption that gains made in Indonesia might have positive repercussions throughout the Islamic world, particularly in the explosive Middle East. p. 21<BR>We were promoting U.S. foreign policy and corporate interests. We were driven by greed rather than by any desire to make life better for the vast majority of Indonesians. p. 25
My discussion with those young Indonesians, however, forced me to see another aspect of the issue. Through their eyes, I realized that a selfish approach to foreign policy does not serve or protect future generations anywhere. It is myopic, like the annual reports of the corporations and the election strategies of the politicians who formulate that foreign policy. p.46
- There is only one China. Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation, and that remains our policy, our firm policy.
- Colin Powell, Interview with CNN (27 October 2004), as quoted in "Warnings by Powell to Taiwan Provoke a Diplomatic Dispute" in The New York Times (28 October 2004).
- We want to see both sides not take unilateral action that would prejudice an eventual outcome, a reunification that all parties are seeking.
- Colin Powell, On Chinese and Taiwanese relations, in interview with Phoenix Television of Hong Kong (27 October 2004), as quoted in "Warnings by Powell to Taiwan Provoke a Diplomatic Dispute" in The New York Times (28 October 2004).
- I reach above me and pull down a file on Guatemala. It is on the CIA coup of 1954. Why did the US destroy that small country? Because the landless movement and the Left fought to elect a democratic politician - Jacobo Árbenz - who decided to push through a moderate land reform agenda. Such a project threatened to undercut the land holding of the United Fruit Company, a US conglomerate that strangled Guatemala. The CIA got to work. It contacted retired Colonial Carlos Castillo Armas, it paid off brigade commanders, created sabotage events, and then seized Árbenz in the presidential palace and sent him into exile. Castillo Armas then put Guatemala through a reign of terror. 'If it is necessary to turn the country into a cemetery in order to pacify it,' he said later, 'I will not hesitate to do so.' The CIA gave him lists of Communists, people who were eager to lift their country out of poverty. They were arrested, many executed. The CIA offered Castillo Armas its benediction to kill: A Study of Assassination, the CIA's killing manual, was handed over to his butchers. The light of hope went out in this small and vibrant country.
- There is a homely old adage which runs: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." If the American Nation will speak softly, and yet build, and keep at a pitch of the highest training, a thoroughly efficient navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far.
- Theodore Roosevelt, speech, Chicago, Illinois, April 2, 1903.—Presidential Addresses and State Papers, part 1 (vol. 13 of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, executive ed.), p. 266 (n.d.)
- Many democrats, liberals, traditional conservatives, and even some leftists continue to tell themselves that the election of Joe Biden was the first step toward restoring U.S. standing in the world after the damage caused by Donald Trump. And in a variety of ways — many stylistic and some substantive — that perspective has merit. But when it comes to national security policy, the U.S. has been on a steady, hypermilitarized arc for decades. Taken broadly, U.S. policy has been largely consistent on “national security” and “counterterrorism” matters from 9/11 to the present....
Biden’s election slogan was “America is back.” The truth is that “America” never left. There will be no major departures from the imperial course under Biden. While the drone wars continue, and the shift back to Cold War posturing in Europe and Asia accelerates, Biden will maintain the hostile stance toward left movements and governments throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. On climate change, Biden will reverse some of Trump’s most extreme stances, while still placing the profits of major corporations and the military industry over the health of the planet. The militarization of the borders and the maltreatment of refugees will remain, and the vast domestic surveillance apparatus will endure. The stark truth is this: The interests of the War Party trump any political disputes between the Democrats and the Republicans.
- Rep. Liz Cheney, daughter of Dick, is trying to prolong her father's endless war in Afghanistan. You would think that every Democrat would be united in opposing such a policy, right? Well, you would be wrong. It’s not every day that you wake up in your blue state and learn that one of your newly elected Democratic congresspeople is joining with a Cheney to try to prolong the longest war in American history. But that's what happened this week, when Colorado's freshman Democratic Rep. Jason Crow teamed up with Republican Rep. Liz Cheney to advance legislation that would make it more difficult for any president to draw down troop deployments in Afghanistan. [...] The first rule for every incoming freshman Democrat in Congress should be that you never work with a Cheney on war policy. The second rule for every freshman Democrat should be: re-read the first rule and make damn sure to follow it. [...] Cheney initiatives that may seem superficially reasonable when calmly uttered by a Cheney usually have an insane ulterior motive. In this case, that truism applies: The Crow-Cheney legislation may sound like it includes reasonable requests, but they are designed to make the Afghanistan deployment permanent. In practice, nobody can predict with 100 percent certainty what will ensue once a nineteen-year military occupation ends. What we can know is that it’s a bad idea to continue a policy that isn’t working — and there’s plenty of evidence that it isn’t.
- Every day, for example, politicians, of which there are plenty, swear eternal devotion to the ends of peace and security. They always remind me of the elder Holmes' apostrophe to a katydid: "Thou say'st an undisputed thing in such a solemn way." And every day statesmen, of which there are few, must struggle with limited means to achieve these unlimited ends, both in fact and in understanding. For the nation's purposes always exceed its means, and it is finding a balance between means and ends that is the heart of foreign policy and that makes it such a speculative, uncertain business.
- Adlai Stevenson, Call to Greatness, p. 2 (1954). The quotation from Holmes is from "To an Insect," lines 7–8, The Complete Poetical Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes (1900), p. 3.
- After Kennedy was killed, and nobody asked, you know, what was Kennedy's real policy on Vietnam? Well... he was going to pull out of Vietnam. He was very clear about it, and that's what people get confused. Johnson, Lyndon Johnson, who took over the office went right to war quickly... this is... where we went to a war on a false basis. It was a lie, another lie, and that war was a disaster... Unfortunately, the same forces that made that war happen continued in our life, and they controlled us and pushed us into another war and another war and another war. And soon it was in Iraq... and on and on. We're still stuck in this. We're stuck in a military industrial syndrome where a lot of money, trillions of dollars, are spent fighting wars abroad against forces that we call "darkness" and "evil," but we don't really know who the enemy is. I think we propagandize an enemy, make him far bigger than he is, and I don't know what we're fighting. We're just fighting because the military needs to keep going and needs to be funded, as though the intelligence agencies which have enormous amount of budget...
- If you look at the reporting from all of our major networks, it's very hostile when it comes to people who we deem to be enemies, whether it's Chávez or whether it's Castro or Putin... It's not necessary to be their enemy.
- There's been a campaign, a war against Russia going on for a long time. It started again in the United States around 2006... there's no evidence really of the aggressiveness of Russia. The aggressiveness is truly coming from the NATO forces that have encircled Russia and that are also, by the way, encircling China. You know, this is a big policy point, huge, of huge importance...
We have to have people in the United States who speak up for the peace point of view... Let's get along with China. Let's get along with Russia, Iran, and so forth. We have to change our point of view because we are seeking to still be the only power in the world that is in control of the world. We cannot continue on this path; it's a suicidal path. And I think many Americans agree with me, but it's never been allowed to be stated politically. People who say this type of stuff never win elections because they're ridiculed or marginalized in the press, to be honest.
- We have noted that the federal Constitution put the permanent control of the nation's foreign interests in the hands of the President and the Senate, which to some extent frees the Union's general policy from direct and daily popular control. One should not therefore assert without qualification that American democracy controls the state's external affairs.
- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. J. P. Mayer, trans. George Lawrence, vol. 1, part 2, chapter 5, p. 226 (1969). Originally published in 1835–1840.
- If the establishment of an "unlimited" treaty power is to be the ultimate conclusion on this great question, it must be admitted that the incorporation of the treaty-making power into the Constitution of the United States was the introduction into our governmental citadel of a Trojan horse, whose armored soldiery, for years concealed within it, now step forth armed cap-à-pie, shameless in their act of deception, eager and ready to capture the citadel upon which they pretended to bestow their gift. If such construction be possible it would be of interest to know for what purpose the Tenth Amendment was ever demanded and incorporated into the Constitution.
- Henry St. George Tucker, Limitations on the Treaty-Making Power, p. 339, section 296 (1915).
- To me "bipartisan foreign policy" means a mutual effort, under our indispensable two-Party system, to unite our official voice at the water's edge so that America speaks with maximum authority against those who would divide and conquer us and the free world. It does not involve the remotest surrender of free debate in determining our position. On the contrary, frank cooperation and free debate are indispensable to ultimate unity. In a word, it simply seeks national security ahead of partisan advantage. Every foreign policy must be totally debated (and I think the record proves it has been) and the "loyal opposition" is under special obligation to see that this occurs.
- Arthur H. Vandenberg, The Private Papers of Senator Vandenberg, ed. Arthur H. Vandenberg, Jr., p. 552–53 (1952).
- Dear President Biden, We last communicated with you on December 20, 2020... we alerted you to the dangers inherent in formulating a policy toward Russia built on a foundation of Russia-bashing. While we continue to support the analysis contained in that memorandum... We wish to draw your attention to the dangerous situation that exists in Ukraine today, where there is growing risk of war unless you take steps to forestall such a conflict... 1. It must be made clear to Ukrainian President Zelensky that there will be no military assistance from either the US or NATO if he does not restrain Ukrainian hawks itching to give Russia a bloody nose — hawks who may well expect the West to come to Ukraine’s aid in any conflict with Russia.... . We recommend that you quickly get back in touch with Zelensky and insist that Kiev halt its current military buildup in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces have been lining up at the border ready to react if Zelensky’s loose talk of war becomes more than bravado.... 3. It is equally imperative that the U.S. engage in high-level diplomatic talks with Russia to reduce tensions in the region and de-escalate the current rush toward military conflict. Untangling the complex web of issues that currently burden U.S.-Russia relations is a formidable task that will not be accomplished overnight. This would be an opportune time to work toward a joint goal of preventing armed hostilities in Ukraine and wider war.
- Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity: on Avoiding War in Ukraine, Global Research, April 07, 2021, Antiwar.com, 6 April 2021
- The Trump administration is repeating the collective punishment strategy in Venezuela with a crippling financial embargo since August 2017 and, since January, a trade embargo. The financial embargo has prevented any measures that the government might use to get rid of hyperinflation or bring about an economic recovery, while knocking out billions of dollars of oil production. The trade embargo is projected to cut off about 60 percent of the country’s remaining meager foreign exchange earnings, which are needed to buy medicine, food, medical supplies, and other goods essential to many Venezuelans’ survival.
- Seeking to foment a military coup, a popular rebellion, or civil war, the Trump administration has made it clear that the punishment will continue until the current government is ousted. “Maduro must go,” said U.S. Vice President Mike Pence yet again in early March.
- All of this is illegal under numerous treaties that the U.S. has signed, including the charter of the United Nations, the charter of the Organization of American States, and other international law and conventions. To legitimize this brutality, which has likely already killed thousands of Venezuelans by reducing access to life-saving goods and services, the Trump administration has presented the sanctions as a consensus of the “international community”—similar to what George W. Bush did when he put together a “coalition of the willing” of 48 countries to support his disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq.
- The cast of characters supporting this regime-change effort, whether in Washington or among some of its closest allies, should underline what is already obvious: The United States’ attempt to oust Maduro has nothing to do with democracy or human rights.
- When people think of the damage that wealthy countries – typically led by the US and its allies – cause to people in the rest of the world, they probably think of warfare. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died from the 2003 invasion, and then many more as the region became inflamed. But rich countries also have considerable power over the lives of billions of people through their control over institutions of global governance. One of these is the International Monetary Fund. It has 189 member countries, but the US and its rich-country allies have a solid majority of the votes... the US has enough votes to veto many major decisions by itself – although the rich countries almost never vote against each other.... Consider a recent IMF loan. In March, Ecuador signed an agreement to borrow $4.2bn from the IMF over three years, provided that the government would adhere to a certain economic program spelled out in the arrangement... The program calls for an enormous tightening of the country’s national budget – about 6% of GDP over the next three years. (For comparison, imagine tightening the US federal budget by $1.4 trillion, through some combination of cutting spending and raising taxes). In Ecuador, this will include firing tens of thousands of public sector employees, raising taxes that fall disproportionately on poor people, and making cuts to public investment.
- Mark Weisbrot, in The IMF is hurting countries it claims to help, The Guardian (27 August 2019)
- All this [in Ecuador] is taking place under a government – elected in 2017 on a platform of continuity – that seeks to reverse a prior decade of political reforms. These reforms were, by measures of economic and social indicators, successful. Poverty was reduced by 38% and extreme poverty by 47%; public investment – including hospitals, schools, roads, and electricity – more than doubled as a percent of the economy. But the prior government was a leftwing government that was more independent of the US (by, for example, closing down the US military base there). One can imagine what this looks like, as the Trump administration now gains enormous power in Ecuador... Lenín Moreno, has aligned himself with Trump’s foreign and economic policy... his government is persecuting his presidential predecessor, Rafael Correa, with false charges filed last year that even Interpol won’t honor with an international warrant.... Since Washington controls IMF decision-making for this hemisphere, the Trump administration and the fund are implicated in the political repression as well as the broader attempt to reconvert Ecuador into the kind of economy and politics that Trump and Pompeo would like to see, but most Ecuadorians clearly did not vote for.
- Mark Weisbrot, in The IMF is hurting countries it claims to help, The Guardian (27 August 2019)
- Economic sanctions, as the U.S. is applying against Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and other countries, cause immense harm... there is no doubt that Iran's capacity to respond to the novel coronavirus has been hampered by the Trump administration's economic sanctions, and the death toll is likely much higher than it would have been as a result... There can... be no question that the sanctions have affected Iran's ability to contain the outbreak leading in turn to more infections, and possibly to the virus' spread beyond Iran's borders... If the U.S. government is going to assist other countries, let alone provide some kind of leadership role during this global crisis, the first thing it should do is 'cause no harm, "Economic sanctions, as the U.S. is applying against Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and other countries, cause immense harm.
- Why do Trump & co. have crippling sanctions on Iran, making sure that many more people die from coronovirus than otherwise would? Its collective punishment, this piece from Human Rights Watch shows what monsters Trump and Pompeo and gang are...
- Bolivia has descended into a nightmare of political repression and racist state violence since the democratically elected government of Evo Morales was overthrown by the military on 10 November last year. That month was the second-deadliest in terms of civilian deaths caused by state forces since Bolivia became a democracy nearly 40 years ago... Morales' government was able to reduce poverty by 42% and extreme poverty by 60%... What has received even less attention is the role of the Organization of American States (OAS) (with headquarters in Washington, D.C.) in the destruction of Bolivia’s democracy last November. The wheels of justice grind much too slowly in the aftermath of US-backed coups. And the Trump administration’s support has been overt: the White House promoted the “fraud” narrative, and its Orwellian statement following the coup praised it: “Morales’s departure preserves democracy and paves the way for the Bolivian people to have their voices heard.” According to the Los Angeles Times: “Carlos Trujillo, the US ambassador to the OAS, had steered the group’s election-monitoring team to report widespread fraud and pushed the Trump administration to support the ouster of Morales.”
- If you had the opportunity to save a million people from preventable death, would you do it? … This is not merely a rhetorical question, but one that members of the Congress will have to answer in the present. … Right now, legislation has already passed the House of Representatives that would do just that. And it was included in the newly released COVID relief bill that is being negotiated between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. It would require the Treasury Department, which represents our government at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to support a multi-trillion dollar relief package from the Fund. These funds are not loans and therefore will not have to be repaid. They have no conditions attached to them. And they do not cost the U.S. government anything at all — not now, and not at any time in the future.
- Mark Weisbrot, If you could save a million lives, would you do it?, The Hill (1 October 2020)
- The IMF leadership, and almost all of the 189 member countries — including U.S. allies such as Germany and Canada — are ready to allocate the aid that Congress is considering. The reason it hasn’t already been approved at the IMF is that the U.S. Treasury has said no, and the U.S. — alone — has a veto at the IMF on this matter. .. [I]t’s not at all clear why the Treasury is blocking this desperately needed aid. … Nor is there any reason that it should be a partisan issue … Of course the Congress has a lot on its plate, and is having trouble passing further relief that millions of Americans need to pay their bills and for many, even have enough to eat. But all indications are that Congress will pass major spending bills before the end of the year, including funding to avoid a government shutdown. It would take almost no effort to include the House or Senate bill that would unblock Treasury’s hold on the IMF funding…
- Mark Weisbrot, If you could save a million lives, would you do it?, The Hill (1 October 2020)