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October 26, 2021

On The Delusion In U.S. Foreign Policy And What Might Change It

The current U.S. foreign policy is delusional. Its attempts to command the world are getting laughed at. How did this happen and what might change it?

Here are excerpts from two smart essays which discuss the theme.

Alastair Crooke asks why somehow nothing seems to be working within Joe Biden's United States. He then observes of its global policies:

At the international geo-political plane, things don’t seem to be working either. Team Biden says it wants a ‘managed competition’ with China, but why then send Wendy Sherman (who is not noted for her diplomatic skills) to China as Biden’s envoy? Why has there been this continuous chip-chipping away at the 1972 ‘One China’ policy with a series of small, seemingly innocuous moves on Taiwan if Team Biden wants contained competition (what he said he wants in a recent call with President Xi), but falters, time after time, to instigate a serious relationship?

Does the Team not understand that it is not ‘containing’ competition, but rather playing-with-fire, through its’ opaque hints that the U.S. might support Taiwan independence?

And then, why of all people, dispatch Victoria Nuland to Moscow, if the competition with Moscow was to be quietly ‘balanced out’ as Biden’s face-to-face with Putin in Geneva seemed to signal? Like Sherman, Nuland was not received at a senior level, and her ‘Maidan arsonist’ reputation of course preceded her in Moscow. And why decimate Russia’s diplomatic representation at NATO HQ, and why have Secretary Austin talk in Georgia and Ukraine of NATO’s ‘open door’?

Is there some hidden logic to this, or were these envoys intentionally sent as some kind of ‘kick-ass’ provocative gesture to underline who’s boss (i.e. America is Back!)? This is known in Washington as ‘capitulation diplomacy’ – competitors are presented with only the terms of their capitulation. If so, it didn’t work. Both envoys effectively were sent packing, and Washington’s relations with these key states are degraded to near zero.

The Russia-China axis have come to the conclusion that polite diplomatic discourse with Washington is like water off a duck’s back. The U.S. and its European protégés simply do not hear what Moscow or Beijing says to them – so what is the point to talking to ‘tin-eared’ Americans? Answer: None.

Prof. Michael Brenner recently sent a longer diagnose of the U.S. political sphere to his mailing list. He sees the same foreign policy problems as Crooke does and tries to answer some of the questions Crooke is asking:

The United States’ mounting hostility toward China should be understood in reference to the anxieties and anguish of a declining hegemon.
[T]he great American experiment itself is now obviously in jeopardy. [..] A country that held the world in awe as the land where the ‘common man’ reigned does not passively accept its degeneration into a predatory oligarchy. It does not experience the degradation of public discourse to the point where candor is an endangered species and truth itself homeless. 
As the connection to reality loosens, disengagement approaches the point where reality ceases to have any claim of primacy over illusion. One inhabits an insular world from which other things, other persons only have meanings as players in the life drama that you have scripted. When those others resist playing those roles, they are cajoled, coerced and then punished. We literally refuse to take ‘NO’ as an answer. Let’s look at the tack repeatedly taken with foreign governments to discern how this dynamic works out in practice. 
On China. Anthony Blinken flies to Anchorage to instruct his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Li, that Beijing should stop doing things that the United States objects to, and instead should do as we tell them. Wang’s response, in diplomatic language, is “shove it!”  Some months later, Blinken calls Wang with the identical message – and gets the identical response. In between, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, flies to the PRC where she meets Foreign Ministry officials to whom she gives a familiar shopping list of American demands spelling out how we want Beijing to correct its misbehavior. Her interlocutor, in exchange, hands her a Chinese shopping list accompanied by a lecture that boils down to “shove it!” And so on. 
On Russia: The exact pattern repeats itself in meetings between Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on the American side, and senior Kremlin officials - foremost being the formidable Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov. These exchanges are punctuated by an in-person summit between Presidents Biden and Putin held in Geneva at the White House’s request. Biden's main purpose was to calm the waters he himself had churned up by encouraging Ukrainian President Zelensky to make preparations for an assault on the Donbas. Caught by surprise at the stern Russian response, he was forced to backpedal. The diplomatic retreat was covered by a rote restatement of American criticisms re. Crimea, alleged electoral interference, Syria, human rights and Navalny (the born-again democrat who first made his mark as a rabid Muslim-phobic rabble-rouser). As per usual, Putin coolly refuted all the charges, noted some of Russia's own complaints, and make a concrete proposal to open a round of talks on strategic nuclear arms. Washington has shown no interest in the last. So, the two men parted ways. Product? Zero. 
As a final tragic-comic twist, Biden subsequently sends Victoria Nuland to Moscow – yes, the same Nuland declared persona non grata by Russia for her role as provocateur in the Ukrainian coup and notorious vilifier of Putin and the Kremlin. Her rancorous visitation pretty much slammed shut the window insofar as any serious dialogue between Washington and Moscow is concerned [..].
Beyond icing the new Cold War with Russia, did she succeed in the ancillary objective to scare the Kremlin away from too close an embrace of Beijing with a show-down over Taiwan in the offing? Anybody who believes that is possible never has bothered to study Vladimir Putin or to examine Russian history. Sadly, that category includes Washington’s top decision-makers. By comparison, name-calling is more fun and much less taxing on the gray cells. 
The American plan to construct a cordon sanitaire around China exhibits a similar type of repetitive, unyielding behavior. Vietnam, a candidate to join the anti-China alliance, is paid visits by two high-powered American leaders. First, Secretary of Defense General Lloyd Austin flies into Hanoi to make the case for the Vietnamese to throw in their lot with the United States – the two parties familiar with each other from the last movie. Nothing doing. A while later it’s the turn of Vice-President Kamala Harris who punctuates her fruitless discussions with press conference remarks denouncing China and implying support for an independent Taiwan. Her hosts are not pleased.  
This is not normal behavior; it is pathological. It speaks of the disengagement from reality noted above. And it is exceedingly dangerous since it disregards the actual attitudes and actions of others in the relentless effort to project onto them caricatured images, simplified conceptions of who they are and how they can be manipulated suited to the crude script we authored. Information from without, and the understanding that it encourages, are filtered and excluded whenever inconvenient. Instead, it is the introverted world of self-delusion alone that sources our distorted cognitive maps.  
America’s political elites have fostered a phantasmagoric approach to the world as increasingly is evident. Its multiple manifestations in regard to China seem to include the unfounded belief that Beijing’s leaders are bluffing when they solemnly avow that moves toward Taiwan independence are intolerable, that they are prepared to go to war if necessary and expect to win any contest of arms were it to occur. While it is more likely that Washington is the one bluffing, our greatest fear should be that Biden et al actually think that they can intimidate China. That conceit conforms to mythic notions of American exceptionalism.  
Until now, the war-against-China imaginings have been an elite pastime. The public has been kept in the dark as three successive Presidents have inched the country closer and closer to conflict. How Americans react when they find themselves on the brink is the crucial, unknowable ‘X’ factor in the equation. 

Alastair Crooke closes his essay with a rather hopeful view:

It seems that Russia and China, seeing all this, will remain aloof and patient – waiting upon structures to crack.

That crack in U.S. structures however may become a very dangerous moment for Russia and China. Professor Brenner thinks that only the threat of a potentially very violent scenario can cause the 'structural crack' that brings things the U.S. back to sanity:

I fear that we’ll need something like the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 when the U.S. and Soviet Union came to the brink of nuclear war in order to get peoples’ heads screwed on straight. At both the elite and popular level, it is only fear of war that, on a purely pragmatic basis, will break the comatose intellectual/political state that the United States is in.

Posted by b on October 26, 2021 at 17:08 UTC | Permalink

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Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 29 2021 11:56 utc | 198

We know that Trump was never briefed on the empire's operations by the simple fact that the "deep state" lied to him about ducks, kids, and Novichok. Rather than tell him the truth and trust him to play his part they lied to Trump to manipulate him into staying on narrative.

Not sure how you can state this as fact, but in any case, it could also suggest that Trump was too much of a dullard to be involved in this type of intrigue. Or maybe he just didn't care. This would certainly fit with the image the man has projected over the years: an incurious, culturally tone death, egotistical dimwit with the maturity of a preteen growing up with 6+ hrs/day of television.
The point that the bunny and his Mini-Mes artlessly dodge is not that Trump was some rebel "savior" (the bunny's characterization and nobody else's in this forum) but that he simply wasn't the one the establishment wanted.

Again, since we're making unsubstantiated assertions, I'll give you my take:

Maybe the whole point of the circus isn't about favouring one candidate over the other, since, as we have seen again and again, the packaging has no bearing whatsoever on the product itself. A potus is a potus is a potus and consumers will get sugar water no matter what. However, what is important is forcing the involvement of the electorate. That's the clever strategy. Folks are are literally FIGHTING FOR the product.

Posted by: robin | Oct 29 2021 13:48 utc | 201

I am 100% of the belief that the latter is being attempted but will fail. Things are decaying too fast for Americans with memories of a different era to all die off.

Posted by: c1ue | Oct 27 2021 14:21 utc | 101

Yep, and there is little reason to think that the current managment experts we have here are capable of rebuilding much of anything; they did not get where they are by getting things done; so further ablation will be required at the top before forward progress can resume. Lambert's comparison with the Romanov's looks right on to me.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 29 2021 14:03 utc | 202

RE: Posted by: robin | Oct 29 2021 13:48 utc | 201

“Again, since we're making unsubstantiated assertions, I'll give you my take “

Silence is generally a better option, albeit not popular in certain cultures.

However such popularity has utility for others not restricted to The Delusion In U.S. Foreign Policy.

Posted by: MagdaTam | Oct 29 2021 14:04 utc | 203

William Gruff @Oct29 11:56 #198

... that argument is totally irrelevant.... [Trump] simply wasn't the one the establishment wanted.

The maxim: "Watch what they do, not what they say" means nothing to Gruff. Gruff can't see the kayfabe. And has no skepticism about why a craven, social-climbing opportunist like Trump would defy the Deep State.

Why is Gruff so credulous? And so adamant in his defense of the sanctity of the US electoral system? A system that many keen observers (no just me!) say "isn't broken, it's fixed."

... Trump had never been "blooded", and in fact he was much too "clean" for the "deep state" to trust.

Here Gruff goes from sublime credulity to the ridiculous. Describing Trump as clean and never bloodied is so laughable that the very attempt is an insult to the intelligence of moa readers. No reasonable person can overlook:

  1. Trump was mentored by Roy Cohn, chummy with Epstein, and a close family friend of the Clintons.
  2. Trump's construction business is widely-recognized as having benefited from Mob ties. It is said that his first casino purchase was of a casino where the CIA laundered money. And Trump employed an FBI counter-intelligence agent in a high-profile role, further confirming Deep State ties.
  3. Many of the Russian's that the Deep States says compromised Trump are actually Jewish mobsters/oligarchs with stronger ties to Israel than to Russia. Israeli leaders have described Trump as one of the strongest supporters of Israel ever to hold the office of US President.

    Perhaps it's not surprising then, that Trump's mentor (Roy Cohn), Trump's fixer (Michael Cohen), Trump's 'candyman' (Jeffrey Epstein), and Trump's FBI counter-intel guy (Felix Sater) are all Jewish?

  4. Trump's business dealings show a pattern of fraud that would invite a RICO investigation if Trump were not so well connected. But that has never happened.

    Trump University was found to have defrauded thousands. Trump's Foundation was determined to be nothing but a vehicle for Trump promotion and enrichment. Trump has refused to comply with Congressional supeanas for his tax records:

    On April 15, 2019, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Representative Elijah Cummings, issued a subpoena to the accounting firm Mazars USA, LLP requesting tax records and other "financial documents concerning the President and his companies covering years both before and during his presidency." Cummings identified four areas that the committee aimed to investigate through the subpoena: (1) whether Trump "may have engaged in illegal conduct before and during his tenure in office"; (2) whether Trump "has undisclosed conflicts of interest that may impair his ability to make impartial policy decisions"; (3) whether Trump was complying with the Constitution's Foreign Emoluments Clause and Domestic Emoluments Clause; and (4) whether Trump "has accurately reported his finances to the Office of Government Ethics and other federal entities."

    On March 3, 2021, the new chairwoman of the committee, Representative Carolyn Maloney, reissued the subpoena against Mazars USA after the initial subpoena for financial records, related to an investigation into Trump, expired at the end of 166th Congress.

    The Trump administration refused to comply with the subpoenas.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 29 2021 14:42 utc | 204

"What I find astonishing is that so many people can't see that trump did practically nothing for the people that voted for him and did an enormous amount for TPTB."

Precisely, almost word for word, the argument the bunny makes,
That is not an argument, its my factual observation and yes lots of other people should be able to make that same factual observation. Surely, there are more than 2 people who observe those facts which are in plain sight.

The argument that I made, derived from my observation, is that the oligarchs would want the candidate to win that could deliver tax cuts to large corporations, tax cuts to the rich, rollback of federal regulations on large corporations, appoint pro-corporate federal judges and lavishly dole out record amounts of federal monies to the MIC. Hillary Clinton was not the candidate that could deliver on what TPTB want. Even on the question of Israel Clinton would support Israel but only Trump could get the popular support that allowed him to deliver much more.

Where I differ most with you is that I don't conflate the deep state with the oligarchy. The deep state as far as I know is the entrenched bureaucrats that retain their employment and power to carry out the US federal powers regardless of who is president. The president is the chief administrator of the federal bureaucracy and he appoints the upper level administrators but the deep state are the actual worker bees that carry out the actions of the federal govt and they are supposed to be immune from partisan politics. So needless to say exercising control of the deep state is very important to the oligarchs because without control of the deep state the federal govt is not going to act in support of their interests. The oligarchs exercise control of the deep state via the presidency who appoints the upper management of the entrenched bureaucracy. The deep state is not a power unto itself it is a servant of the oligarchy and as far as I can tell Trump got the deep state to do more for the oligarchy than most presidents.
Trump had never been "blooded", and in fact he was much too "clean" for the "deep state" to trust.

That is a supposition that has no real evidence behind it. But it doesn't matter if you think trump is clean or whether the deep state doesn't trust Trump what is important is that the oligarchs trusted Trump and allowed him to to be the chief administrator who appoints the upper management executives that run roughshod over the deep state. The control that the oligarchs exercise over the deep state is through the president and they are not going to turn over that control to someone they don't trust.

Posted by: jinn | Oct 29 2021 14:56 utc | 205

robin @201: "...the packaging has no bearing whatsoever on the product itself."

On the contrary, the package counts for quite a bit. To be sure the public will never be able to seize control through the establishment political process, but that political process is used for much more than just running the voters around in circles. The political process is part of how the establishment sells its agendas and makes them appear to be the chosen agenda of the nation. It is like the ultimate slanted opinion poll and as such it is a big deal, even if it is nigh impossible for the public to actually express their interests through that political process.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 29 2021 20:54 utc | 206

robin wrote:
Maybe the whole point of the circus isn't about favouring one candidate over the other, since, as we have seen again and again, the packaging has no bearing whatsoever on the product itself. A potus is a potus is a potus and consumers will get sugar water no matter what. However, what is important is forcing the involvement of the electorate. That's the clever strategy. Folks are are literally FIGHTING FOR the product.
That is analysis is spot. And all the credit for that has to go to Trump. More than 30 million people voted in 2020 compared to 2012. The draw was trump.

Posted by: jinn | Oct 29 2021 21:44 utc | 207

@ William Gruff | Oct 29 2021 20:54 utc | 206

Sounds like we are in agreement. Perhaps I wasn't very clear on the marketing ploy as I see it. My premise is that the product is not inherently attractive to our consumers. For simplification purposes, let's call it a shit sandwich.

Traditional marketing will only work to a certain extent. Work on the wrapping, find a clever pitch and maximize exposure to vaunt the product. The expectation being that consumers would naturally seek the most polished turd. The problem I see with this strategy is that it relies on people's wants. Perceived wants, I'll grant you, but none the less, consumers are given an opportunity to identify their own interests and encouraged to make a critical assessment of what they are buying. Once they start reading the fine print on the labels and take a closer look at the content they might compare that to their own personal wants. Next thing you know, people are freely discussing what they would like to have.

The sectarian strategy is different. The focus of the marketing campaign isn't about wants and needs but about ugliness and scorn. The field of discussion is completely obstructed with blatant wedge issues and inanities. Consumers are subjected to an artillery barrage of negative sales pitches and there is no place for original, free discussion.

The choice shelves are now lined with new wrappers. Caricatures of everything ugly and despised all wrapped in a composite package. And also a bunch of other stuff you never knew you despised.

Consumers aren't expected to select the most attractive product. They are tasked with preventing the ascension of everything they stand against. Outta my way, I'm going to the polls!

This leaves me wondering what the next iteration of wrappers will be. Due to acclimation and short attention span, there is an escalation in the process. What could possibly top what we see today? Could we ever be nostalgic of today's lineup?

Posted by: robin | Oct 30 2021 8:56 utc | 208

RE: Posted by: robin | Oct 30 2021 8:56 utc | 208

"My premise is that the product is not inherently attractive to our consumers. For simplification purposes, let's call it a shit sandwich."

In France there is as soft drink called Pschitt.

During the 1980's they attempted to capture other EU markets.

They failed.

Posted by: MagdaTam | Oct 30 2021 17:23 utc | 209

RE: Posted by: jinn | Oct 29 2021 21:44 utc | 207

“However, what is important is forcing the involvement of the electorate. That's the clever strategy.”

You are mistaken.

The clever strategy, until the Jinn escapes since some are tempted to pull on exposed threads thereby unravelling the garment, was/is re-iterating the meme/illusion of choice by offering the choice of involvement/complicity to the electorate in the oxymoron “representative democracy”, and religious vestments which commence “We the people hold these truths to be self-evident”.

Your mistake is understandable since some social relations depend on socialisation to facilitate not seeing the woods for the trees, posed by some as what is for afters?

Posted by: MagdaTam | Oct 31 2021 10:40 utc | 210

"...I fear that we’ll need something like the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 when the U.S. and Soviet Union came to the brink of nuclear war in order to get peoples’ heads screwed on straight..."

are we betting the fate of all humanity on this?

Posted by: michaelj72 | Nov 17 2021 0:03 utc | 211

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