Sunday 11th of April 2021

anyone for world title biffo?

navy   The 2020 presidential campaigns have ignored foreign policy more this year than in any election since the turn of the century, but the 2020 election will have significant foreign policy consequences no matter the outcome.

The neglect of foreign policy by the campaigns and the media has been a great disservice to the country, since the president wields such extensive power in this area. The choices that a president makes can have devastating effects on tens of millions of people in other countries, and they can sometimes impose huge costs on the United States.

By all rights, foreign policy should account for the majority of what presidential candidates talk about, because it is such a large part of what presidents do once in office, but the public’s lack of interest has created incentives for the candidates and journalists to pay it as little attention as possible. It is no wonder that we have no accountability in foreign policy when foreign policy plays such a small part in the process of selecting a president.

If Trump defies the odds and wins re-election, he will take it as a vindication for his destructive unilateralist policies, and he will presumably be more aggressive in pursuing those policies in a second term. The national security team in a second Trump term will likely be a Who’s Who of the worst hard-liners, possibly including Ric Grenell, Tom Cotton, and Lindsey Graham. A Biden win will in all likelihood lead to an attempt to revive a pre-2016 consensus that was already hollowed out and discredited by the failures of the last two decades.

There will therefore be some major differences in policy depending on the outcome. A Biden win might mean more confrontational policies toward Russia and North Korea, while a Trump victory would all but guarantee continued relentless hostility toward Iran and Venezuela. Tensions with China seem likely to increase in different ways no matter which candidate prevails. Neither candidate is offering foreign policy restraint as we understand it, but a Biden administration might at least be open to some ideas from restrainers. A second Trump term seems likely to be dominated even more by the president’s loyalists and the hard-liners he has surrounded himself with for the last four years.

The final presidential debate included some brief discussion of foreign policy broadly defined, but almost all of that time was consumed by mutual accusations of corruption and taking foreign money. Voters have never heard a substantial exchange of views between the candidates on what they would do overseas in the next four years, because the candidates prefer not to talk about it and no one seems inclined to ask them. Other than attacking Trump over engagement with North Korea and the dubious Russian bounty story, Biden has said very little recently about specific Trump policies that he opposes. During the primaries, we heard some commitments from him that he would treat the Saudis like pariahs, end U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen, and reenter the nuclear deal with Iran, but there has been precious little discussion of the other wars that the U.S. continues to wage in at least half a dozen countries. Other than boasting about the Israel normalization agreements that have been concluded in recent months, Trump has said very little about his record because there is so little to tout.

The candidates’ reticence is understandable. Biden’s foreign policy record is hardly awe-inspiring, and at different points he has taken some awful and misguided positions. His vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq is well-known, and it stands out as the worst decision in his career, but we shouldn’t forget that he has been a consistent and vocal backer for NATO expansion, including in Ukraine and Georgia. Adding these countries to the alliance in the near future is very unlikely, but it does not bode well for our government’s Russia policy that the next president could be one of the biggest cheerleaders for this terrible idea. He has repeatedly poured cold water on the idea of engagement with North Korea, and he sticks to an outdated demand for denuclearization that North Korea is never going to accept.

On the plus side, Biden reportedly advised against intervening in Libya, and he opposed Obama’s surge in Afghanistan, but he lost those internal battles and can’t easily criticize those policies without impugning the judgment of the man who chose him to be vice president. If he becomes president, he will be able to get his way, but it is anyone’s guess whether he will follow his more cautious instincts or indulge his more conventional hawkish views. The names being floated as possible choices for Biden’s national security team don’t inspire confidence that it will be the former.

Trump’s foreign policy record has little to recommend it, especially for those interested in restraint. He has made a mockery of real diplomacy with photo-op summits and Potemkin agreements, and at the same time he has thrown up as many roadblocks as possible to impede meaningful negotiations with Iran in the future. Few presidents have talked so much about making deals while delivering so few. The failure to extend New START is a case in point. Even though it would have been very easy, and it would have put some meat on the bones of his promise to cooperate with Russia, he has dithered and dragged his feet with the apparent goal of letting the treaty die. The president has refused to take the foreign policy equivalent of a lay-up because it would require him to acknowledge that his predecessor may have been right about at least one thing. The rest of his arms control agenda amounts to tearing up one treaty after another and inviting a new arms race in Europe.

The Iran crisis that he precipitated when he reneged on the JCPOA has taken the U.S. to the brink of war more than once, and that crisis is far from over. The pitiless economic wars that he has waged on the civilian populations of Iran, Venezuela, and Syria have achieved nothing except to starve and impoverish tens of millions. Pseudo-engagement with North Korea has yielded no results except to interfere with South Korea’s own genuine efforts at rapprochement.

The continued, enthusiastic backing of the Saudis in their war on Yemen and the determination to keep the U.S. involved in that atrocious mean that the president has taken full ownership of an indefensible policy that he has made worse. U.S. support for the Saudi coalition has been going on for five and a half years, but almost four of those years will have been on Trump’s watch. Yemen is the blackest mark on Trump’s record, because it is the most destructive policy and it is the one that he could have easily ended at any point. Congress gave him the perfect opportunity to end U.S. involvement in that war by passing a war powers resolution last year. Instead of doing the right and smart thing by signing it, the president vetoed it. He had a chance to end a foreign war, and he refused because he wants to sell more weapons to the client states that are destroying the poorest country in the region.

Trump and Biden are separated by wide divides on many specific issues, but one thing they continue to have in common is their commitment to maintaining U.S. primacy. The president understands this more in terms of domination and military strength, and Biden is much more supportive of multilateral agreements and institutions, but both remain wedded to an activist U.S. “leadership” role that no longer makes sense for this country. The U.S. will continue to exhaust itself in unnecessary wars and unwise security commitments as long as leaders in both parties believe that U.S. global hegemony and dominance are beyond question. No matter which candidate wins the election, the U.S. will remain committed to a strategy of primacy, and it will be at least another four years before the voters are presented with a serious alternative to that failed strategy.
Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book ReviewDallas Morning NewsWorld Politics ReviewPolitico MagazineOrthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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peace is annoying to the west...

The West unhappy with Russia's successful strategy in the Caucasus

World » Europe

France and the United States recognized the unilateral actions taken by Russia to cease fire in Nagorno-Karabakh. However, the West will try to weaken Armenia's "Russian-Turkish noose."


What is Turkey doing in Karabakh?

The ceasefire agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh, signed by Moscow, Yerevan and Baku on November 10, ratified all territorial achievements of Azerbaijan (including the capture of Shusha, the second largest city of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) and unblocked the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic within Azerbaijan, having thus established direct road corridor with Turkey.

A senior representative of the US State Department, following the talks between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, told TASS that France and the United States recognized Russia's unilateral actions to cease fire in Nagorno-Karabakh. However, the parties would like to receive more information about the process of negotiations.

According to the State Department, the USA acknowledges that there are many issues that the Russians need to clarify, such as the details of the agreement, including the role of Turkey in it. 

Pompeo said in an interview with Le Figaro that the OSCE Minsk Group should serve as a framework for action to resolve the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. At the same time, he pointed out that the United States is "concerned about the growth of Turkey's military potential."

Three winners in the Karabakh conflict

Michel Marian wrote in the article headlined Karabakh as a Geopolitical Test (published in Liberation), the agreement identified three winners:

Azerbaijan, which, in addition to the reintegration of territories, indefinitely postpones the establishment of the Karabakh statute;

Russia, as a developer and guarantor of the agreement, which restores its military presence in Azerbaijan by deploying 2,000 troops on the ceasefire line;

Turkey, which receives a symbolic prize - the creation of a Russian-Turkish ceasefire observation center and also achieves a historical goal - the creation of a corridor between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan.


The West has been taken out of the game

The author of the above-mentioned article believes that France and the United States, being the co-chairs of the Minsk Group for the settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, are the losers. The Minsk Group is not even mentioned in the agreement, leaving Russia at the center of the game.

"To remove the West from the game was one of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's goals and a secret satisfaction for Vladimir Putin," the analyst wrote.


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russia blew the whistle too late?...

After 44 days of war, Armenia was forced to sign a ceasefire with Azerbaijan, acknowledging the loss of part of its territories. However, as we reported in the form of an interrogation, the initial plan of the United States was to blame Turkey, let it massacre part of the Armenian population, then intervene, overthrow President Erdoğan and restore peace [1].

However, this plan did not work. It masked a British ploy. Underhandedly, London took advantage of the confusion of the US presidential election to double-cross Washington. It used the situation to try to deprive Russia of the map of Nagorno-Karabakh and resume the "Great Game" of the nineteenth century. [2] At the time, London was the ally of the Ottoman Empire against the Tsarist Empire. When Moscow realized this, it imposed a cease-fire to stop the massacre.

1- The "Great Game

Throughout the 19th century, the British and Russian empires engaged in a fierce rivalry to control the Caucasus and all of Central Asia. This episode is known in England as the "Great Game" and in Russia as the "Tournament of Shadows".

Russia began to win the game when it seized Nagorno-Karabakh. By a domino effect, it then extended its domination over the Caucasus.

In view of this historical precedent, London now believes that recovering Nagorno-Karabakh could allow it to undermine Moscow’s influence in the Caucasus and then throughout Central Asia.

The current British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, claims to be the continuator of the imperial policy of Winston Churchill, of whom he is a biographer. He has just made public a costly plan to modernize his armies [3].

To relaunch the "Great Game", on July 29, 2020, he appointed Richard Moore, director general of the Foreign Office, as director of MI6 (foreign secret services). He had previously served as His Majesty’s ambassador to Ankara, speaks Turkish fluently, and has made friends with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He did not take up his new post until October 1, four days after the Azeri attack on Nagorno-Karabakh.

2- The pivotal role of Richard Moore

Richard Moore is a personal friend of Prince Charles, himself patron of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, where the intellectuals of the Muslim Brotherhood have been trained for twenty-five years. The former Turkish president, Abdullah Gül, is also administrator of this center.

As ambassador to Ankara (2014-17), Richard Moore accompanied President Erdoğan to become the patron of the Brotherhood.

He also played a role in the British withdrawal from the war against Syria in 2014. London did not intend to pursue a conflict in which it had engaged for colonial purposes, but which turned into a US imperial operation (Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy).

Richard Moore has just undertaken a tour of Egypt and Turkey. He was in Cairo on November 9th (the day of the Russian imposition of a cease-fire in Karabagh) to meet President al-Sissi and in Ankara on November 11th. Officially, he would not have had an audience with his old friend, President Erdoğan, but only met his spokesman at the White Palace.

3- Facing the States, Soros does not count

In the Azeri-Turkish war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Washington believed it could count on President Armen Sarkissian and the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, one of George Soros’ men, [4] as bait.

George Soros is an American speculator who pursues his own political agenda, but works in concert with the CIA [5]. Unfortunately, the British do not have the same relationship with Soros: he owes his fortune to a vast operation against the pound sterling (on Black Wednesday, September 16, 1992), hence his nickname "the man who broke the Bank of England".

4- The double game of "Perfidious Albion"

London let Washington do it first. The Americans encouraged the "Two-State Nation" (Turkey and Azerbaijan) to forcibly end the Artsakh Republic.

MI6 helped its Turkish partner to transfer jihadists to Azerbaijan [6], not to kill Armenians, but Russians. But there are were Russians in Karabagh yet.

Soros reacted by sending Kurdish mercenaries to support the Armenian side [7].

Pretending to play the US game, London supported Baku and Ankara. During the first days, the three powers of the Minsk Group (in charge of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict since the dissolution of the USSR) - i.e. the United States, France and Russia - all three tried to obtain a halt to the fighting and a resumption of negotiations [8]. When they each successively noted Azeri bad faith, they presented a proposal for a resolution to the Security Council. For Washington, it was a question of operating in a coordinated manner a reversal, from neutrality to the condemnation of the "two-state nation".

In the first days, the Armenians defended themselves as best they could. However, the head of state, Armen Sarkissian, modified the plans of the military staff and brought up inexperienced volunteers to the front. [9] Sarkissian has dual Armenian-British nationality. The result was a massacre among the Armenian army.

Suddenly, the United Kingdom announced that it would use its veto if the text was put to a vote. The United States, taken aback, publicly accused Azerbaijan of bad faith on 25 October.

But it would take another two weeks for Russia to understand that Washington, entangled in its presidential election campaign, was no longer handling the issue.

5- Russia whistles the end of the game before it is too late

It is only around October 6 that Russia became certain of the existence of an English trap in the American trap. It quickly concluded that London had relaunched the "Great Game" and was preparing to steal its influence in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called his Turkish counterpart on October 7th. He negotiated with him a cease-fire very unfavorable to the Armenians. Erdoğan, who has understood that he will not be able to resist a stabilization of the political situation in the United States, agrees to gain only territory and renounces the relaunch of the Armenian genocide. President Putin then summoned his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, and the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pachinian, to the Kremlin. He saved what could still be saved by forcing his interlocutors to sign a ceasefire on October 10tj under the terms negotiated by Erdoğan [10]. His priorities were to draw up the Russian military presence via a peace force and then to stop the bloodbath. He then addressed the Russian people to announce that he had saved the interests of his country by saving Armenia from an even more terrible defeat.

The Armenians realized, far too late, that by taking them away from Russia for the USA, Nikol Pachinian had bet on the wrong horse. They understand in retrospect that however corrupt the former team that led them was, it was patriotic, while Soros’ men are opposed to the very concept of nationhood, and therefore to the independence of their country.

Demonstrations and resignations followed one another: the Chief of Staff, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defence, but not the Prime Minister. For his part, the Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, is jubilant. He mocks copiously the Council of Europe and the Parliament of the European Union, proclaims his victory and announces the reconstruction of the conquered territories [11]. The British will have new privileges for British Petroleum and apply to exploit the Azeri gold mines.

Thierry Meyssan

Roger Lagassé

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See also: the bombers are back...


With China being the most powerful competitor of the US in the 21st century, it is but natural to see various US administrations and the more permanent US defense establishment obsessed with China’s rise and the question of maintaining the balance to their advantage. The US, under the Trump administration, decided to confront China on the economic front and it started a seemingly endless ‘trade war’ that saw many attacks from both sides. Before the Trump administration, the Obama administration had decided to confront China through more military means in the form of ‘Asia Pivot.’ The US, under the Biden administration, is more likely to mend trade ties with China. However, it is already moving towards bringing the Obama-era focus back on the military front. While the Biden administration will be fighting the same war the Trump administration had been fighting since 2017, the in-coming president will use different tools.

This is evident from the military postures the US is adopting in the wake of China’s massive military transformation and how it is already on the path to out-scoring the US in military terms. While China’s capacity to fight the US economically is already well-established, its military transformation will stamp its relatively stronger military capacity vis-à-vis the US as well, displacing the latter from the seat of the world’s strongest military. This will certainly have major implications for how the global system has run since the end of the Second World War.

recent Pentagon report to the US Congress tells the story of how China’s military rise in past 20 years has not only been phenomenal, but is also the biggest challenge the US is facing today. If the Chinese military, as the report shows, was merely “sizable” and an “archaic military that was poorly suited to the CCP’s long-term ambitions” in 2000, it has already “marshalled the resources, technology, and political will over the past two decades to strengthen and modernize the PLA in nearly every respect.” Indeed, as this report shows, “China is already ahead of the United States in certain areas”, including shipbuilding, land-based conventional ballistic missiles and integrated air defense systems.

As opposed to the 293 ships the US Navy has at its disposal, “The PRC already has the largest navy in the world, with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines including over 130 major surface combatants.” Similarly, the report shows that “The PRC has one of the world’s largest forces of advanced long range surface-to-air systems—including Russian-built S-400s, S-300s, and domestically produced systems—that constitute part of its robust and redundant integrated air defense system architecture.”

China’s military modernization and the fact that it has already begun to out-number the US is part of the PRC’s overall strategy to, as the report argues further, “revise aspects of the international order.” The PRC, therefore, is being increasingly seen as a “revisionist power” bent upon destroying the US-led current world order. It is further seen as a power willing to use hard military power to secure soft economic and political goals.

The report accordingly concludes that the Communist Party of China “has tasked the PLA to develop the capability to project power outside China’s borders and immediate periphery to secure the PRC’s growing overseas interests and advance its foreign policy goals”, adding also that “The PRC has increasingly recognized that its armed forces should take a more active role in advancing its foreign policy goals.”

The Biden administration, influenced as it will largely be by this report, will focus more on containing the rise of China.  Jake Sullivan, Biden’s pick for national security adviser, is known to have repeatedly criticized the Trump administration for failing to strop China’s increasing militarization. Sullivan is someone who has been advocating a higher degree of resource allocation to ‘manage’ Chinese activities. In an interview given last year, Sullivan was reported to have said that “We should be devoting more assets and resources to ensuring and reinforcing, and holding up alongside our partners” against China in South China Sea region [and elsewhere as well.]

Sullivan, in another lecture, had noted that China’s “economic rise” was useful for the world on the whole and should be encouraged. It shows why the US under the Biden administration would be shifting its focus from economic confrontation to military confrontation once again. In other words, while we will see the US-China trade war coming to an end [though this will not happen quickly], it will end only to give birth to military confrontation in Asia and the Pacific.

Anticipating this, the US is accordingly planning to send more ships to the South China Sea region in future. The US ships will also “accept calculated tactical risks and adopt a more assertive posture in our day-to-day operations,” the above-mentioned report said.

It is, therefore, obvious that US under the Biden administration will not adopt a radically different policy, dumping the confrontation that we saw [and continue to see] during the Trump era. The only difference that we are going to see is that of a relatively increased focus on checkmating China’s military expansion and its increasing political and economic influence. In other words, the Biden administration will be paying a close attention to reverse the course of affairs that has already badly damaged, as the report shows, the “unfettered access” the US used to have to “the world’s oceans” as and when it needed. If “unfettered access” was the key to the US global supremacy, the Chinese presence and expansion is a stumbling block, one that the Biden administration will be keen to remove.



Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.



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