American Foreign Policy is a strange beast. It changes, often in a radically way, from one presidential administration to another. Often this is a good idea. Often it is not.
Statfor.com, an authoritative Austin, Texas based “Global Intelligence” think tank, wrote several years ago about the ramifications of what it called “The Clinton Foreign Policy Legacy”.
A quick summary is that outgoing President Clinton worked earnestly on an American Foreign Policy that insisted that free markets and democracy were mutually reinforcing concepts, that could ultimately draw such former adversaries as Russia and China into an “American-engineered economic and political system. After a decade, this view has been proven empirically false. And yet this president continues to pursue it -- just as his successor likely will.” [emphasis added]
In their analysis, Stratfor.com notes that Clinton’s foreign policy was not original, but inherited directly from his predecessors, specifically George Bush and Ronald Reagan. A critical point, according to Stratfor.com, is that the policy pursued since the end of the Cold War has been neither random nor an idiosyncratic response.
Instead this policy has been based on a long term perspective, a fundamental paradigm, in American thinking, one that transcends ideology. Four of the basic assumptions are:
1. Capitalism (sometimes inaccurately referred to as the “free market”) is always attractive because it inevitably results in greater economic benefits than other economic systems. This is always the case except for dictatorial regimes which might feel threatened by free markets. Other nations will, supposedly, always gravitate toward a free market.
2. Even dictatorial regimes will eventually adopt some form of capitalism if such is required in order to maintain a position within the international system. The assumption goes further in that such regimes will move toward increased democratic and liberalized tendencies, if only encouraged with investment and trade from the good guys.
3. On the flip side, societies that are already democratized will want to defend both market reforms and human rights, essentially simultaneously. Thus, democracy, market reforms and human rights are mutually reinforcing concepts.
4. Democratic countries with free markets will not be political and/or military competitors with their like-minded brethren, because the risks outweigh the benefits.
Based on these assumptions, if free market capitalism is facilitated in Russian and China, then political liberalization and democratization will follow. [This is spite of any concerns about the readiness of the people of these countries to be ready for democracy!] The icing on the cake will be that the newly vested domestic political forces will want to defend the free market and democracy, and thus these countries will become natural allies of the US. Any threat of national conflicts thus wanes -- with the US’s economic encouragement.
This policy, of course, substantially benefits the economic interests of both domestic and Transnational Corporations! Such benefit does not necessarily repudiate the American policy, but it most certainly does not validate it either. The connection between capitalism and democracy, and the question of whether they reinforce one another, is important! The two have in truth existed side-by-side for the past 150 years, but in that time span, the power of Corporate Rule and Corporate Politics has not been as blatant as it has been in recent years. The potential of the Corporate State to transcend government and healthy competition in a “free trade” sense, will likely result in a very undemocratic form of rule.
In the short term, there is also the serious question in the case of Russia and China, where the reinforcing theory has been proven disastrously false. In Russia, it has produced “an economic calamity of unparalleled proportions. In fairness, a free market requires a legal system that defends property rights, a condition that has never existed in Russia.” “The net result: the basic premise of U.S. foreign policy in Russia has been proven false and the rest of the assumptions have unraveled.” [emphasis added]
And while China introduced market reforms, which in turn generated a strong democratic movement favoring human rights, that movement was crushed at Tiananmen Square.
“The assumption that the free market will yield political liberalization was falsified, almost from the start. Economic growth continued through the 1990s. But it was an economic growth that diverted the benefits of the market economy to a different set of oligarchs, those in the party and in the military. Then the meager economic benefits were smashed when the region's economic crisis hit China's economy, which has never recovered.”
“The fundamental assumptions of American foreign policy have been proven false in both countries. Neither regime is what Washington had hoped for. Neither economy is developing market-oriented democracy.”
The fundamental flaws in the American Foreign Policy assumptions are that:
1. Creating a market economy out of tyranny is extraordinarily difficult, and will, at best, take generations. While economic theory can be conceived in such terms, political
2. Market reforms are more likely to corrupt regimes rather than to reform them. If the US is any example, greater emphasis on capitalism -- such as the WTO -- is more likely to result in massive corruption via Corporate Politics. In all cases, economic and political repression can become even more pervasive, instead of less.
3. When economic reforms fail, economic downturns can then intensify nationalist feeling and increase pressure to compensate for economic failures with politico-military activities. Failed market reforms then wipe out any productive market reforms.
“In other words, assumptions that began in the 1990s have proven false a decade later and can create the exact opposite effect than was expected.”
The reality of market reforms, or the growth toward capitalism in such countries as Russia and China, do not create rights for the people. They only change the beneficiaries from party bosses to corporate bosses. Any assumption that market reforms will yield political reform is fundamentally proved, empirically to be false.
A fundamental assumption, shared by economists as diverse as Milton Friedman and Karl Marx is that: capital has no country, i.e. money moves where profits go and borders lose meaning. Unfortunately, this premise is false. It might be true under the very specialized circumstances of free markets that actually work, and where a regime subordinates itself to profit -- as in the US where politics is actually controlled by profits.
A consequence of this is that, according to Stratfor.com, the central problem facing U.S. foreign policy will be: “Why would what failed in the past succeed in the future? Overthrowing a failed orthodoxy is never easy or painless. It is not clear how great the pain will have to be.”
For more information about Stratfor.com, contact:
Stratfor.com; 504 Lavaca, Suite 1100 Austin, TX 78701; Phone: 512-583-5000 Fax: 512-583-5025; nternet: http://www.stratfor.com/; Email: email@example.com <
And now, with the new Bush (aka Shrub) Administration, an added tweak to the system includes the idea of preemptive invasions. In other words, the use of military force to impel any and all countries to get on the Capitalism bandwagon, by hook or crook. Or hook and crook.
In other words, the United States of America is no longer willing to exhibit a laissez faire attitude toward other nation’s lack of progress toward America’s goals. The new, radical assumption is that the Bush Administration (and by extension, the Washington, D.C. powers that be) knows what is best for the world and each country individually.
In 2002, Tom Cruise starred in movie called Minority Report. The basic plot of the movie was that a group of exceptional intuitives could predict with perfect accuracy the future commissions of crime. The idea was that future crimes could be predicted with sufficient detail that the crime could actually be prevented by a SWAT-Team styled police force arriving on the spot just before the commission of the crime, and thereby preventing it. The only problem was that a secret minority report had noted that the crime predictions could not be fail safe, and in fact were notably wrong in a significant number of cases.
American Foreign Policy, however, is attempting to do the same thing, and has ignored any possible minority report on its ability to predict what Saddam Hussein or any other dictator or elected head of state might do in the future. The Bush Assumption is that if someone has in their arsenal weapons of mass destruction, has the means of using such weapons, and has in any way indicated the possibility that they might at some future time use them, then they must be forcefully relieved of said weapons and/or destroyed in the process of ensuring that such weapons are not used in the future.
Forget the fact that the only country in the world to have nuclear weapons and a history of using them on civilian populations is the United States.
More applicable to the future precariousness of the world is the fact that any suspicion of someone doing something nasty in the future would -- by the illogic of the Bushites -- result in their being forcefully prevented from doing anything at all (including saying things that those in power might not like). This already shows up in Patriot Act I (and II?), in the designation of Enemy Combatants, and so forth and so on.
In effect, the new Bush/Cheney/Ashcroft/Rumsfeld American Foreign Policy is that you don’t have to commit a crime; you only have to have the means and possible reason to do so. And on that basis, you can be denied any and all human rights.
Creating Reality is obviously going to be a bit tougher than perhaps you imagined! As for achieving Sovereignty in your individual life, perhaps you’d better concentrate first on reaching Spiritual Sovereignty. Perhaps take some ORME or Star Fire and become an enlightened member of the “Q Continuum”.
Or else, just think of the whole thing as an exciting movie and leave it at that.
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]