The US’s new war against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is the latest sign of its steady regional decline. In media interviews over the weekend, US military chief Adm. Michael Mullen was hard-pressed to explain either the goal of the military strikes in Libya or their strategic rationale.
Mullen’s difficulty explaining the purpose of this new war was indicative of the increasing irrationality of US foreign policy.
Traditionally, states have crafted their foreign policy to expand their wealth and bolster their national security. In this context, US foreign policy in the Middle East has traditionally been directed towards advancing three goals: Guaranteeing the free flow of inexpensive petroleum products from the Middle East to global market; strengthening regimes and governments that are in a position to advance this core US goal at the expense of US enemies; and fighting against regional forces like the pan-Arabists and the jihadists that advance a political program inherently hostile to US power.
Other competing interests have periodically interfered with US Middle East policy. And these have to greater or lesser degrees impaired the US’s ability to formulate and implement rational policies in the region.
These competing interests have included the desire to placate somewhat friendly Arab regimes that are stressed by or dominated by anti-US forces; a desire to foster good relations with Europe; and a desire to win the support of the US media.
Under the Obama administration, these competing interests have not merely influenced US policy in the Middle East. They have dominated it. Core American interests have been thrown to the wayside.
Before considering the deleterious impact this descent into strategic dementia has had on US interests, it is necessary to consider the motivations of the various sides to the foreign policy debate in the US today.
All of the sides have contributed to the fact that US Middle East policy is now firmly submerged in a morass of strategic insanity.
The first side in the debate is the anti-imperialist camp, represented by President Barack Obama himself. Since taking office, Obama has made clear that he views the US as an imperialist power on the world stage. As a result, the overarching goal of Obama’s foreign policy has been to end US global hegemony.
Obama looks to the UN as a vehicle for tethering the US superpower. He views US allies in the Middle East and around the world with suspicion because he feels that as US allies, they are complicit with US imperialism.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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