Cyprus Mail
Guest ColumnistOpinion

Whether it’s Trump or Biden as president, US foreign policy endangers the world

comment us foreign policy no matter who is president, america unleashes violence and instability
No matter who is president, America unleashes violence and instability.

By Shaun Narine

Many observers of American politics are understandably terrified at the prospect of Donald Trump being re-elected president of the United States in November.

The US is already showing signs of a failed democracy. Its government and politics are often dysfunctional and plagued with corruption.

A Trump victory would raise fears of a new level of decline into fascist authoritarianism. However, a second Trump presidency would not necessarily implement a foreign policy any more destructive than what is normal for the US.

Since the start of the 21st century, the US has unleashed enormous violence and instability on the global stage. This is a feature of American foreign policy, regardless of who’s president.

In 2001, in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US launched its “war on terror.” It invaded and occupied Afghanistan, then illegally invaded and occupied Iraq.

These actions caused the deaths of 4.6 million people over the next 20 years, destabilised the Middle East and caused massive refugee migrations.

In 2007-2008, the under-regulated US economy caused a global financial crisis. The associated political and economic fallout continues to resonate.

In 2011, the US and its Nato allies intervened in Libya, collapsing that state, destabilising northern Africa and creating more refugees.

The US tried to consolidate its dominance in Europe by expanding Nato, despite Russia warning against this for decades. This strategy played a role in the Russia-Ukraine war in 2014 and the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

President Joe Biden’s administration has been accused both of helping to provoke the war in the hopes of permanently weakening Russia and of resisting peace negotiations.

Today, Ukraine appears to stand on the verge of defeat and territorial division, and US Congress seems set to abandon it.

The US has provoked tensions with China by reneging on American commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act (1979) to refrain from having official relations or an “alliance” with Taiwan. The US has also been accused of encouraging conflict in the South China Sea as it has surrounded China with hundreds of military bases.

Israel’s assault on Gaza is partly the culmination of decades of misguided US foreign policy. Unconditional American support of Israel has helped enable the country’s degeneration into what human rights organisations have called apartheid, as the state has built illegal settlements on Palestinian land and violently suppressed Palestinian self-determination.

As Israel is accused of using starvation as a weapon against 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, half of them children, the US is fully complicit in the Israeli war crimes and for facilitating a conflict that is further inflaming a critically important region.

Israel is of little to no strategic value to the US. American politicians contend that its overwhelming support for Israel reflects moral and cultural ties, but it’s mainly driven by domestic politics.

That suggests that for domestic political reasons, the US has endangered global stability and supported atrocities.

The Biden administration has continued many of the foreign policy initiatives it inherited from Trump.

Biden doubled down on Trump’s economic, technological and political war against China.

He reinforced Trump’s trade protectionism and left the World Trade Organisation hobbled.

He built on Trump’s ‘Abraham Accords’, an initiative to convince Arab states to normalise their relations with Israel without a resolution to the Palestine question.

The Biden administration’s efforts to push normalisation between Saudi Arabia and Israel is considered part of Hamas’ motivation to attack Israel on October 7, 2023.

None of this inspires confidence in US “global leadership.”

Biden and Trump share the same goal: permanent American global domination. They only differ in how to achieve this.

Trump believes the US can use economic and military might to coerce the world into acquiescing to American desires, regardless of the costs to everyone else and without the US assuming any obligations to others.

In office, Trump tried to present himself as “anti-war.” But his inclination to use of threats and violence reflected established American behaviour.

Biden follows a more diplomatic strategy that tries to control international institutions and convince key states their interests are best served by accepting and co-operating with American domination. However, Biden readily resorts to economic and military coercion, too.

The silver lining to a Trump presidency is that it might force US allies to confront reality.

American allies convinced themselves that the Biden presidency was a return to normalcy, but they’re still accepting and supporting American global violence. They’re also wilfully ignoring the ongoing American political decay that could not be masked by Biden’s defeat of Trump in 2020.

Trump is a symptom of American political dysfunction, not a cause. Even if he loses in November, the Republican Party will continue its slide towards fascism and American politics will remain toxic.

A second Trump presidency may convince American allies that the US is unreliable and inconsistent. It may undermine the mostly western coalition that has dominated and damaged the world so profoundly.

If Trump returns, traditional US allies may recognise that their interests lie in reconsidering their relations with the US.

For American neighbours Canada and Mexico, a Trump presidency is only bad news. They’ll have to somehow protect themselves from creeping US fascism. For the rest of the world, it may herald the start of a dynamic multipolar order.

Shaun Narine Is a professor of International Relations and Political Science at St Thomas University (Canada)

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