What Next for the USA

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The current world system, with the US as the lone super power at the top, is becoming increasingly lawless. Even if the US can show their supreme power militarily, the fact that they are alone at the top will bring challenges to their power as history has always shown. In fact the Rumsfeld doctrine appears to be based on the fact that there will be competitors to US hegemony, and that to prevent the eventual downfall of the US, pre-emptive action needs to be taken.[1] With the result being that the more action the US takes, under the dictates of it new foreign policy doctrine, the more instability that will be created. Especially in the resource rich Middle East and Asia, where the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons becomes more problematic.

As we know the world system is always developing, so other states or organizations will continue to try their luck, even if it is in the form of sustained guerrilla warfare such as we have seen from Islamic fundamentalists in the last few years. In the end however, the course that the US has chosen will bring about fundamental changes to the world and possibly even destruction on a scale that we have never seen.

To back up this claim look to the Middle East, a region that is strategically the most important to US interests.[2] At this moment nuclear proliferation has occurred all around the periphery, the list of countries is growing all the time; Israel, Pakistan, India, Russia, China and possibly North Korea.[3] At the same time Iran is becoming more and more penned in. With the US conquest of Iraq[4] all the states surrounding Iran will have US troops stationed there, and there are many of the Bush cabinet that have close links to the state of Israel, who have made no secret of their dislike of middle eastern self-determination.[5]

This kind of naked aggression will almost certainly cause Iran to upgrade militarily, possibly in the nuclear direction. The US at the same time will be re-arming and funding its client states in the area.[6] Iran has already started to take future US action seriously, Iranian officials recently allowed the media access to a nuclear power plant for the first time.[7] While some commentators may see this as part of the very slow changes that are occurring in Iranian society, viewed from a geo-political perspective it appears to be the first shot in a propaganda war with the US.

Why would Iran be making such moves? For the answer one only has to look to South East Asia and the case of North Korea. By observing the recent diplomatic scuffles that have taken place between the US and North Korea, the Iranians will have seen that a nuclear threat gives a sovereign state leverage in dealing with the US. The actions of the Americans in recent months show how true the previous statement is; the invasion of Iraq occurred after the US pulled the plug on the diplomatic process, while in Korea Powell still has to engage at the diplomatic table.

There are several other factors at play in this region that are not present in Iraq; for one, there is not such a high concentration of strategic resources in the region. The chance of independent determination spreading in the region is quite low, as all the sovereign states in the area are quite stable and at the moment, non-expansionist.[8] The states in the region are also not keen on antagonizing North Korea with most of them regarding the US as the player to fear most in this region.[9]

Looking at the actions of the US over the last few years points to worrying conclusions, especially in the nuclear context; renegotiating the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) with Russia, expansion of national missile defense (NMD), allowing the breaching of nuclear treaties on the Indian sub continent with out long term reprisals [10], antagonizing nuclear and potential nuclear states (China, North Korea & Iran).[11]

What this all points to is a concerted effort by the US to engage the world in a new arms race, a race to militarize space, that they hope to win without much of a challenge from other states. If we look at the nuclear states we see that some of their recent movements have shown that they believe that more nuclear weapons is the only way to counter further nuclear aggression. The Chinese believe that NMD is too weak to stop the Russian arsenal [12], and that the rogue states, such as North Korea, do not as yet have the necessary capabilities. Rather, they see NMD as a counter to their own limited arsenal [13], not just in the international sphere but also in the region and specifically in regard to situations such as Taiwan [14]. In response to the ‘Axis of evil’ doctrine North Korea has abandoned attempts to see through the ’94 accords agreed with the US, linked to energy and nuclear power, with the result being the diplomatic battles of late. Japan in some quarters now calls for the removal of the US “veto power” [15] and a return to their own independent military which would almost certainly demand nuclear weapons if it is true that North Korea does indeed have nuclear weapons.

India and Pakistan are involved in a protracted dispute over Kashmir. The real danger here is that Pakistan has declared its intention to pronounce nuclear jihad in any conflict against India.[16] This statement alone destroys any pretences of mutually assured destruction (MAD) in the region, the US meanwhile has stayed out of this, even though they have the leverage with both sides to drive through a settlement. With the possibility of Iran gaining nuclear attack capabilities, in direct competition to Israel, the whole region could become highly unstable.

Most logical assessments would bring about the conclusion that allowing more and more states to obtain offensive nuclear capabilities will take the consistency out of political decision making, producing irrational responses when the reverse is necessary. It appears to be nothing but cynical US policy makers playing on the fears of the American public to acquire the appropriate funding for “Star Wars”[17]. If we look back to the beginning of the cold war, we can see the idea of the ‘red menace’ etc. used to secure the appropriate funding from congress. This was done by scaring the American public into wrongly believing that the communist bloc was expanding to take control of the world, while in hindsight most movements painted as communist were nationalist in the outlook and aims that they wished to secure.

The important point is that while the names have changed the problem “still remains, and will have to be addressed in new and more imaginative ways as traditional cold war doctrine loses its efficacy”[18] when dealing with troublesome elements such as American domestic opinion and states who wish to follow an independent path.

So in this new world the US is allowing nuclear proliferation so as to make ‘rogue states’ a more horrifying prospect, making Americans even more scared and this in turns allows Congress, quite easily and without public disapproval to hand over vast amounts of money that Bush, the arms companies and the pentagon require to make the weaponisation of space a reality.

The problem with this approach by the US is that they feel that their vast technical superiority and control of world resources will allow them to control the other nuclear states, thus they give us NMD, but the instability and irrationality of nuclear politics does not give one confidence that this kind of power politics can be controlled. As stated earlier Pakistan has declared it would use nuclear jihad against India, surely from this we can extrapolate that Iran, a more Islamic state, would also take the same stance against outside aggressors.

Fundamentally what we see here is the natural extension of the Bush pre-emptive doctrine where the US has first strike capabilities against all its competitors. While this was kept in check by the USSR and the concept of mad during the cold war, a new era of regional conflicts plus a sharp increase in localized arms races which the US, through its actions is directly and indirectly encouraging, means that the US will have no such restrictions placed on its actions in the future. The US, with no rival since the demise of the USSR, has had to find new enemies so as to justify its military budget. Unfortunately due to the nature of Americas new military upgrade these competitors have to be of a nuclear nature or similarly destructive, hence the emphasis on weapon of mass destruction in Iraq. So for the US to hold onto strategically important areas it feels it has to conquer space before any competitors, and unfortunately this will involve nuclear power and weapons[19]and as I stated at the beginning, this creates a world unstable in terms of geo-politics, this though is the kind of atmosphere the US policy makers require to fulfill future strategies and doctrines.

Notes:

[6] Presidential Determination Issued by White House March 14:

[7] Iran puts nuclear reactor on show to counter weapons programme claims. Reporters given some access, but doors to uranium plants remain closed, Dan De Luce in Bushehr, Tuesday March 11 2003, The Guardian.

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency has played down an unexpected announcement that Iran is to widen greatly the scope of its nuclear programme.

[8] Although it should be pointed out that China is illegally occupying Tibet and claims sovereignty over Taiwan

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[9] “éwhile his immediate neighbours seem more alarmed by what the United States might do than by the provocations offered by North Korea.” East Asia: U.S. power can’t do it all

William Pfaff IHT 09/010/03

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[10] Mr Bush said in a White House memorandum that the sanctions were “not in the national security interests of the United States”.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1558860.stm

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[11] North Korea and Iran are on the axis of evil list, China and the US are in dispute over Taiwan with patriot missile systems located in Taiwan, and of course there was the crisis with the downed US spy plane early on in the Bush administration

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[12] Here are some figures on nuclear stockpiles held by the relevant powers from Adbusters March/April 03 No.46:

Russia 13,000+, USA 10,500+, China 400+, France 400+, UK 200+, Israel 100+, India 85+, Pakistan 15+

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[13] “From its inception, the actual motivation behind what the Administration (misleadingly) terms “missile defense” has been to pursue a costly program of offensive preparations against possible later challenges from “strategic competitors” like China” Nuclear Hubris By Richard Alan Leach, Z magazine Dec 01

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[14] “Such a strategic shift would in turn end China’s ability to apply political pressure to Taiwan through Beijing’s local superiority in intermediate-range missiles and submarines” China and the US after 9/11 by Gu Xuewu, from International Politik, 2/2002. vol 3 Summer issue p79

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[15] for an explanation on why the US holds ‘veto power’ over Japanese military and industrial policy see p53 Deterring democracy, Noam Chomsky, Hill and Wang 1992

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[16] See footnotes P96 “The best democracy money can buy” Greg Palast, Robinson, London, 2003

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[17] “The U.S. plan to eventually scrap the Outer Space Treaty (1967) and to “dominate” planet Earth is still presented by the U.S. media as defensive”, Nuclear Hubris By Richard Alan Leach, Z magazine Dec 01

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[18] p59, Deterring Democracy, Noam Chomsky, Hill and Wang 1992

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[19] The USA is using the global positioning satellite (GPS) to guide missiles in Iraq, http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/1/hi/world/middle_east/2889845.stm

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David Conway, a free-lance writer, contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from the United Kingdom.

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