American ‘democracy on the march’ not in its favor
The Kurds are moving towards de facto independence, while the rest of the country is falling under ISIS control as they set about establishing a fundamentalist caliphate. And meanwhile America is in the humiliating position of having to beg Iran for help to contain the consequences of its own mistakes in Iraq.
So far, the central government of Syria has managed to hold off the jihadist insurgents, but here also ISIS and other radical Islamists have established control over large swathes of the country. These radicals will be beholden to their paymasters in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and will pose an immense threat to regional stability as well as a staging area for terrorist attacks against the West.
Ironically enough, Russia is one of the prime beneficiaries of America’s mistaken policies. Turmoil in Iraq and Syria has driven oil prices higher, making Russia’s energy exports more valuable, while America is embroiled in conflicts from which it gains little strategic benefit, and is empowering players such as Iran and ISIS who are fundamentally hostile to the United States.
American taxpayers have the right to hold their leaders to account for all the human lives lost and trillions of dollars spent when there is little to show in return. It is the time for a serious reconsideration of US foreign policy, which to date has only caused chaos and harm to America’s true national interests.
As Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to Moscow, Jack Matlock, recently said at the US-Russia Forum in Washington: "The world is moving on and the US has trouble keeping up." Please raise your hand if you disagree with this wise man.
According to the polls, the vast majority of the American people believe that US foreign policy has gone disastrously astray since the days when Reagan was president.
One can have different views of Reagan and his legacy, but one thing is for certain. Under his leadership, freedom and democracy made a huge leap forward when without a single shot fired, over two dozen nations, including Russia, freed themselves from the communist yoke. Some of them joined the Western alliance but as a result of the misguided policies of successive American presidents from George H. W. Bush to Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, the rare historic opportunity to include the largest and the most important of these nations, which is Russia, into this alliance was missed, and probably for good.
As a result, not only the relations with Russia have been badly damaged, but America’s own interests have been hugely undermined. Moreover, the US so-called global democracy promotion campaign has brought tremendous misery for countries on the receiving end of this “promotion” and, to make things worse, it has backfired on the United States again and again.
The avalanche of tragic mistakes started with George H.W. Bush, who did not have a sufficiently thought out strategic vision for building on Reagan’s successes and failed to offer a friend in need an economic assistance program which would help Russia during its most difficult transition from planned to market economy.
Bill Clinton started the misguided NATO expansion, which one of the most distinguished American diplomats called a “tragic mistake” that will lead us to a new Cold War and it surely did. Then he launched a war against Serbia to cleave off Kosovo, the spiritual heart of Serbia, as a client state of the US, which has since turned into a regional hub of criminality.
However, Clinton was a paragon of restraint compared to George W. Bush, who launched another illegal war against a sovereign state, this time Iraq, with catastrophic consequences. In almost nine years of occupation, over 4,500 American soldiers and well over 500,000 Iraqis lost their lives while creating a hole of trillions of dollars in the US budget. As it turned out, not only it was all in vain – but on top of the disaster Iraq has practically become an ally of America’s archenemy, Iran.
Once the infamous weapons of mass destruction were nowhere to be found, George W. Bush tried to rationalize the invasion as another exercise in democracy promotion. Today we can see what an illusion that truly was, as hardened fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) advance on Baghdad itself. America’s chosen Shia leaders in Iraq, particularly Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, have so alienated the Sunni majority that many of them are joining sides with ISIS.
Similarly, democracy promotion and nation building in Afghanistan has been another miserable failure. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is little more than another corrupt warlord among many, and whose writ extends barely past the Kabul city limits. The majority of Afghans continue to live in poverty and without basic security, even as Karzai’s allies and friends buy prime properties in Dubai with stolen funds. Despite the Potemkin façade of democratic elections, there is little real democracy to be found in that sad land while Afghan drug production has skyrocketed.
Obama has made many of the same tragic mistakes as his predecessor with his policies in Libya and Syria. Libya has practically disintegrated with the lack of central government control combined with the counter-insurgent operations by a rogue general in Benghazi. To rub salt in the wound, the so-called Libyan government apparently as a thank you note for America’s help in getting rid of Muammar Gaddafi now protests the arrest of Ahmed Abu Khattala, who was the leader of the attack on the US mission in Benghazi.
In Syria, Obama wants Bashar al-Assad deposed, and toward that end has funded and armed fighters determined to overthrow the country’s elected president. While the US claims to be helping only “moderate” opponents to the Syrian government, the battle is being led by fundamental Islamists directly or indirectly linked to Al-Qaeda intent on establishing a sharia-law theocracy. Even worse, many of these fanatics are terrorists who also want to wage war on the West once the battle for Damascus is decided. Strangely enough, Obama seems curiously unconcerned that these hard-core Islamists are being funded and armed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, ostensibly American allies in the Middle East.
This brings us to America’s latest project in democracy promotion, Ukraine. Washington admitted pouring over $5 billion into Ukraine to support an overthrow of an elected president and installing a government which instead of talks with their opponents has gone on a rampage, unleashing uncontrolled violence against civilians across the eastern half of the country. Hundreds of civilians have been murdered; thousands are seeking refuge in Russia. In just one incident in Odessa, neo-Nazi thugs set fire to a building in which dozens of innocent people perished, and those who tried to escape the flames were mercilessly beaten. Is this the kind of democracy Obama has in mind for Ukraine?
Edward Lozansky for RT
Edward Lozansky is President of the American University in Moscow
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.