By Finian Cunningham.
The United States, as many observers have noted, appears to be undergoing an historic process of “strategic decline”. In order to stave off deterioration in its political and economic power, the US is resorting to greater dependence on militarism and aggression.
For that to work, a policy of ramping up provocations against other nations is a necessary concomitant. Because militarism and aggression need a pretext of conflict.
This is the unavoidable conclusion from several international interfaces. The US is resorting to more aggression as a means of asserting its power against perceived global rivals and to shore up its debt-ridden, decrepit capitalist economy.
Those rivals are explicitly identified by Washington as Russia and China, as well as to a lesser extent Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela. All are viewed as impediments to American ambitions for global hegemony.
The violence in Gaza this week by Israeli military can be seen in the context of a wider policy in Washington of provocation. The shooting dead of over 60 unarmed Palestinians in a single day by Israeli snipers and the maiming of thousands of others, including women and children, was arguably a deliberate attempt to incite greater violence across the Middle East.
It seems no coincidence that the atrocity was carried out on the very day that the US controversially opened a new embassy in the contested city of Jerusalem, despite widespread international warning against the move as a violation of Palestinian rights.
US President Donald Trump has embraced the right-wing Israeli leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu to articulate an extreme partisan view of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in which Palestinian rights are non-existent.
The gratuitous use of lethal force, while American dignitaries gathered a short distance away in Jerusalem, seems to have been a calculated attempt to provoke a violent reaction.
If the US and Israel incited armed response from Lebanon’s Hezbollah or Iran — parties that have long-denounced American imperialism in the Middle East — then the ensuing chaos plays well for Washington. It would give the US and Israel an excuse to step up military force against these rivals. That could take the form of more US-backed Israeli air strikes on Iranian and Hezbollah bases in Syria, despite those bases being legally present.
For the US, the main objective of provoking greater instability and conflict is to undermine Russia and its recently regained stature as a major international power in the Middle East, owing to its successful military intervention in Syria at the end of 2015 to defeat US-backed regime-change proxies.
Russia’s intervention in Syria ordered by President Putin has served to accelerate the sense of strategic decline for the US. The American policy of regime change in the Middle East as seen in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere was abruptly stopped in its tracks by Russia’s military deployment in Syria. The American bingeing on regime-change was halted too by Iranian and Hezbollah fighters legally requested by the Assad government to defend the state.
The defeat of foreign terrorist proxies in Syria was a major setback for the US and its British, French and Turkish NATO allies, as well as for American client regimes in Israel and Saudi Arabia which colluded in the covert regime-change assault.
To salvage this momentous defeat, and more generally, strategic decline, the US seems to have embarked on a desperate policy of provocation with the assistance of its client regimes.
The aggressive way that Trump pulled the US out of the international nuclear accord with Iran last week caught many observers and European allies by surprise with his hardline, obstreperous manner.
Everyone knew Trump despised the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
(JCPOA) signed in 2015 by President Obama. But few expected Trump to violate the deal with such bellicose threats to intensify economic sanctions on Tehran, as well as on European states doing business with Iran.
Vilifying Iran as a terrorist state and ranting against Tehran over alleged secret nuclear-weapons building, Trump was ostentatiously adopting the Israeli position of demonizing Iran.
The Trump administration’s warnings to Europe in particular that its firms and banks would be penalized for continuing to do business with Iran, as is their right under the JCPOA, seemed to be a calculated provocation to crash the accord and incite Iran to resume past nuclear activities, which Trump, as well as Israel, has intimated would be met with military attack.
So far, Trump’s provocations over the Iran deal have failed. Iran and the other signatories — Russia, China and the European Union — have agreed to continue implementing the accord.
However, given this failure, so far, to sabotage the JCPOA it can be expected that the US and its regional partners will try to ramp up provocations. The Israeli air strikes on Iranian bases in Syria the day after Trump announced the US pullout from the accord appear to have been a deliberate attempt at antagonizing Iran even further. So too were Saudi claims that a missile attack on Riyadh from Yemen were “an act of war by Iran” owing to its alleged support to the Houthi rebels.
The renewed belligerence from the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East appears to be a systematic effort to stoke conflict.
Syria, Iran and Lebanon, as well as Iraq and Yemen, are in the firing line for embroiling the region in further chaos.
Ultimately, however, the bigger targets for US-induced instability are Russia and China, which Washington views as “great power competitors”.
The American supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine earlier this month — the first such supply after years of non-lethal military aid to the Kiev regime — has rankled Russia. The deployment of US military advisors to oversee use of Javelin anti-tank missiles is a move that will likely escalate the violence in Eastern Ukraine on Russia’s border.
And, of course, the ongoing buildup of NATO offensive forces from the Balkans to the Black Sea along Russia’s Western flank presents an even bigger vista of provocation. The relaunching of the US Second Fleet in the Atlantic after years of being mothballed is evidently part of a massive NATO mobilization.
Elsewhere, increasing American deployment of warships in the South China Sea over alleged “freedom of navigation” concerns near Chinese territorial waters is another manifestation of Washington’s foreign policy of provocation.
Trump’s superficial diplomatic engagement with North Korea is now being tested with Pyongyang’s warning this week that it is not going to give up nuclear weapons unilaterally on the say-so of Washington.
It remains to be seen if Trump’s apparent flurry of diplomacy with North Korea will give way to the previous pattern of American belligerence and threats of war.
If the US is indeed operating a systematic foreign policy of provocation, as seems the case, then we can expect the recent detente with North Korea to be quickly abandoned.
After decades of proclaiming itself a benign global power, the stark conclusion is that the US is clearly emerging as a scourge on international peace.
US foreign policy? There seems little else to it other than the US being increasingly wired for provocation and war.
Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.
This article was originally published by “Sputnik” –
May 18, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –