By Mike Whitney. Originally published at CounterPunch (republished with permission of the author).
Photo by Jamelle Bouie | CC BY 2.0
The US foreign policy establishment is gradually shifting its focus from the Middle East to the Far East, but the unexpected election of Donald Trump has thrown a wrench in the elitist plan to pivot to Asia. Trump wants to fundamentally change Washington’s approach to policy, that is, he wants to abandon the destabilizing wars and regime change operations that have characterized US policy in the past and work collaboratively with countries like Russia that have a mutual interest in establishing regional security and fighting terrorism.
This has not been warmly received in Washington, in fact, Trump’s recommendations have triggered a firestorm among elites who now believe that he is a serious threat to their interests. Recent attacks in the media and preemptive provocations with Russia, suggest that an effort to remove the new president from office is already underway. We expect that these attacks will only intensify in the weeks ahead. Here’s an excerpt from the speech Trump delivered in Cincinnati on December 1 that is the source of the controversy:
“We will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past…We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments…. Our goal is stability not chaos, because we want to rebuild our country [the United States]… We will partner with any nation that is willing to join us in the effort to defeat ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism …In our dealings with other countries, we will seek shared interests wherever possible and pursue a new era of peace, understanding, and good will.”
None of the major media published Trump’s comments, and for good reason. The statement is a straightforward repudiation of the last 70 years of US foreign policy during which time the United States has either overthrown or attempted to overthrow 57 foreign governments according to author William Blum. Removing governments that refuse to follow Washington’s diktats has been a mainstay of US foreign policy for the better part of the last century. Regime change is what we do. And while GOP administrations have relied more on direct military power (Re: Afghanistan, Iraq) as opposed to the more covert operations (proxy-wars –Syria, Ukraine, Libya) preferred by the Democrats, both parties fully support the violent and illegal ousting of foreign leaders provided Washington’s geopolitical objectives are achieved.
Trump has charted a different course altogether which is why the media, the Intelligence Community, the political establishment and the deep state puppetmasters who operate behind the curtain, have abandoned all restraint and are doing whatever they can to delegitimize him, back him into a corner and potentially remove him from office. They cannot allow Trump to work with nations like Russia that pose a clear threat to Washington’s plan to be a dominant player in the fastest growing region of the world. This is why CIA Director John Brennan took the unprecedented step of appearing on FOX News Sunday. Brennan and the other heads of the Intelligence Community have taken a leading role in the desperate character assassination campaign that is intended to undermine public confidence in Trump in order to foil his attempts at resetting relations with Russia. The CIA’s involvement in the coups in Ukraine and Honduras, as well as the agency’s funding, arming and training of Sunni militants that have destroyed Libya and Syria, attest to the fact that Brennan does not see peace and reconciliation as compatible with US foreign policy objectives. Like his elitist paymasters, Brennan is committed to perpetual war, regime change, and mass annihilation. Trump offers some relief from this 70 year-long nightmare policy. Check out this quote from Vice President-elect, Mike Pence on FOX News Sunday:
“I think the president elect has made it very clear that we have a terrible relationship with Russia right now. And that’s not all our own doing, but really is a failure of American diplomacy in successive administrations. And what the president elect has determined to do is to explore the possibility of better relations. We have a common enemy in ISIS, and the ability to work with Russia to confront, hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source represents an enormously important priority of this incoming administration. But what the American people like about Donald Trump is that he’s someone who can sit down, roll his sleeves up and make a deal. And what you’re hearing in his reflections whether it be with Russia, or China or other countries in the world, is that we’re going to reengage. We’re going to put America first, we’re going to reengage in a way that advances America’s interests in the world and that advances peace.”
Vice President-elect Mike Pence, FOX News Sunday
The American people don’t want a war Russia, but US foreign policy elites do. Even now, after six years of carnage and destruction in Syria, elites at the Council on Foreign Relations are still resolved to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (Re: “Aleppo’s Sobering Lessons,” Project Syndicate, by Richard Haas, President of the Council on Foreign Relations) The same is true at the Brookings Institute where chief strategist Michael O’ Hanlon leads the charge for splitting up the battered country so Washington can control vital pipeline corridors, establish military bases in the east, and eliminate a potential threat to Israeli expansion. Here’s a clip from a recent piece by O’ Hanlon that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. The author admits that the US goal is to splinter to country into multiple parts transforming it into a failed state:
“To achieve peace, Syria will need self-governance within a number of autonomous zones. One option is a confederal system by which the whole country is divided into such zones. A less desirable but minimally acceptable alternative could be several autonomous zones within an otherwise still-centralized state—similar to how Iraqi Kurdistan has functioned for a quarter-century….
Many Syrians will not like the idea of a confederal nation, or even of a central government controlling half the country with the other half divided into three or four autonomous zones. … But the broad vision should be developed soon.” (Wall Street Journal)
“Autonomous zones” in a “confederal system” is a sobriquet for a broken, Balkanized failed state run by tribal elders, disparate warlords and bloodthirsty jihadists. O’ Hanlon’s vision for Syria is a savage dysfunctional dystopia run by homicidal fanatics who rule with an iron fist. Is it any wonder why the Syrian people have fought tooth and nail to fend off the terrorist onslaught?
The United States is entirely responsible for the death and decimation of Syria. It is absurd to think that either the Saudis, the Qataris or the Turks would have launched a war on a strategically-critical nation like Syria without a green light from Washington. The conflict is just the latest hotspot in Washington’s 15 year-long war of terror. The ultimate goal is to remove all secular Arab leaders who may pose a threat to US imperial ambitions, open up the region to US-dominated extractive industries, and foment enough extremism to legitimize a permanent military presence.
Russia’s intervention into the Syrian conflict in September 2015, has cast doubt on Washington’s ability to prevail in the six year long war. The election of Donald Trump has further complicated matters by affecting a seismic shift in policy that could end the fighting and lead to improved relations between the US and Russia. Naturally, that is not in the interests of the vicious neocons or their liberal interventionist counterparts who see the proxy war in Syria as a pivotal part of their plan to clip Russia’s wings, discredit Putin in the eyes of the international community, and lay the groundwork for regime change in Moscow. Washington’s ultimate plan for Russia hews closely to that of Zbigniew Brzezinski who– in an titled “A Geostrategy for Eurasia”– had this to say:
“Given (Russia’s) size and diversity, a decentralized political system and free-market economics would be most likely to unleash the creative potential of the Russian people and Russia’s vast natural resources. A loosely confederated Russia — composed of a European Russia, a Siberian Republic, and a Far Eastern Republic — would also find it easier to cultivate closer economic relations with its neighbors. Each of the confederated entitles would be able to tap its local creative potential, stifled for centuries by Moscow’s heavy bureaucratic hand. In turn, a decentralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization.” (Zbigniew Brzezinski, A Geostrategy for Eurasia, Foreign Affairs, 76:5, September/October 1997)
In other words, Washington’s plan for Russia is no different than its plan for Syria. Both countries will be chopped up into smaller bite-size enclaves eliminating the possibility of a strong nationalist government rising up and resisting Washington’s relentless exploitation and repression. It’s divide and conquer writ large.
“A loosely confederated Russia” also fits perfectly with Washington’s top priority to spread military bases across Asia, control crucial energy supplies, force open and dominate financial markets, impose Washington’s neoliberal economic policies, and maintain a stranglehold on China’s growth. It’s the Great Game all over again, and Washington is “In it to win it.”
Here’s an excerpt from a speech Hillary Clinton gave in 2011 titled “America’s Pacific Century”. The speech underscores the importance that elites attach to the “rebalancing” plan contained in the term “pivot to Asia”. The strategy relies on the opening up of new markets to US corporations and Wall Street, controlling critical resources, and “forging a broad-based military presence” across the continent. Washington intends to be the main player in the world’s most prosperous region. Here’s Clinton:
“The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action…. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region…
Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology…..American firms (need) to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia…The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade. As we strive to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2015, we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia…
(“America’s Pacific Century”, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2011)
As we noted earlier, the pivot to Asia is Washington’s top priority. Clinton merely confirms what geopolitical strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski had laid out in his 1997 magnum opus The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives. Here’s a short excerpt from the book:
“For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia… (p.30)….. Eurasia is the globe’s largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. ….About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for 60 per cent of the world’s GNP and about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.” (p.31)
For Washington to achieve its foreign policy objectives, it must eliminate or defeat all emerging threats to its dominance. In practical terms, that means the Russo-Sino plan to transform Europe and Asia into a giant free trade zone that extends from Lisbon to Vladivostok– must be sabotaged by any means possible. The State Department’s coup in Kiev as well as aggressive efforts to restrict the flow of Russian gas to the EU via Nord Stream and South Stream, have at least temporarily succeeded in undermining Moscow’s plan for accelerated economic integration. Had Hillary won the election, the US would have stepped up its provocations, its sanctions, its military buildup on Russia’s borders, its gas war, its attacks on Russia’s markets and currency, and its proxy wars in Syria and Ukraine. But now that Trump has been thrown into the mix, anything is possible. Even a fundamental change in the policy.
The question is whether the deep state powerbrokers –who have already launched a number of attacks on Trump in the media — will throw in the towel and allow Trump to develop his own independent foreign policy or take steps to have him removed from office.
Early indications suggest that a coup is already underway.