2016 US Election Result: Yet More War
'Far from deterring the US’s opponents in the Middle East, the more muscular approach is likely to draw all sides into deeper conflict'
What will the US election mean for the country’s involvement in wars and interventions? The answer is, whoever wins it’s likely to get worse. This lies in part in the nature of the candidates. Trump may talk isolationism but is unlikely to go down that road, given the concerns of important sections of the US ruling class - not that there is not too much military action being carried out by its armed forces, but too little. Trump is, in any case, wildly unpredictable on these questions.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is all too predictable. Her record as Secretary of State was consistently hawkish, from her endorsement of the regime change in Libya in 2011, her intervention in the Syrian war from 2012 onwards and her public glee at the deaths of Gadaffi and Bin Laden. It is clear that her election to the presidency will herald an escalation of intervention in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
In this, she reflects the concerns by many of those involved with formulating foreign policy that Obama has been too averse to military action, and in particular that the US should engage in ‘limited’ airstrikes using cruise missiles, and that it should enforce no fly zones or ‘safe’ zones to stop Syrian and Russian bombing. An article in the Washington Post talks of a number of forthcoming reports and analyses which reflect an increasingly bipartisan approach to foreign policy and especially to Syria.
The article says: ‘Taken together, the studies and reports call for more-aggressive American action to constrain Iran, rein in the chaos in the Middle East and check Russia in Europe.’ This in itself is an admission of the failure of US foreign policy going back decades. The fall of Saddam’s Iraq strengthened his rival Iran – certainly an unintended consequence of the US intervention. The ‘chaos in the Middle East’ cannot be extricated from the wars, occupations and bombings which have been constant for a decade and a half. And the need to ‘check Russia in Europe’ is the justification for US backed Nato expansion which now stretches to Russian western borders.
Enforcing no fly zones or any variants thereof will not be a means to promoting peace, but a further military escalation of the war, as will further bombing or missile attacks. According to Brian Katulis, a Middle East analyst at the Centre for American Progress, ‘Today, the focus among the foreign policy elite is on rebuilding a more muscular and more “centrist internationalism.”’
Far from deterring the US’s opponents in the Middle East, the more muscular approach is likely to draw all sides into deeper conflict.
The only barrier to this course is the lack of support for such action among public opinion in the US. As is the case in Britain, the lessons of these wars have been better learnt by the people who suffer as a result of them than they have been by the politicians.