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The Collapse of Venezuela and Its Impact on the Region

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In May 2017, as the number killed during protests against the regime of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela climbed toward 40, and with more than 130 injured and over 1,300 arrests, many in the United States and the region asked, “How much longer could it go on?”

In addition to the crisis within Venezuela, the collapse of its economy and the escalating criminal and political violence have also produced a massive outflow of refugees to neighboring Colombia and Brazil, to the nearby Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, and Curaçao, and to other locales throughout the region. In total, an estimated 1.5 million of Venezuela’s 32 million people have left the country since the government of Hugo Chávez came to power in 1999. Venezuela’s neighbors watch the unfolding drama not only with concern for the Venezuelan people but also from the perspective of how that crisis could affect them as it deepens and possibly becomes more violent.

The situation in Venezuela is often mistakenly diagnosed as principally a political or economic crisis. It is better understood as a criminal act without precedent in Latin America: the capture and systematic looting of a state, achieved by first capturing its institutions through mass mobilization and bureaucratic machinations, then increasing control of the state through military force, as the criminal nature of the act and its consequences become apparent to the nation’s citizens. Former Venezuelan government officials have suggested that as much as $300 billion may have been diverted over the last decade from national coffers to private accounts through the currency control system alone.

The crisis in Venezuela is a problem for the country and the region that neither international law nor existing multilateral institutions are well equipped to handle. For neighboring states, politically acceptable alternatives appear to be few. For example, it is unlikely that the United States, or organizations such as the United Nations or the Organization of American States (OAS), will choose to physically intervene or be able to act in a manner sufficiently impactful to alter the current trajectory of Venezuela toward a broader and more violent internal crisis. Yet, both the United States and multilateral institutions do have plausible alternatives and may yet have the ability to play a decisive role in managing the consequences of that crisis for the region without direct intervention.

The Situation in Venezuela

It is difficult to anticipate when or how the Maduro regime in Venezuela will collapse, yet it is clear that its current course is both economically and politically unsustainable. In economic terms, destructive government policies, including expropriations, price controls, and currency controls, in combination with rampant corruption and mismanagement in government enterprises, have progressively eliminated the capacity of the Venezuelan economy to produce even the most basic goods required by the people of the country to survive. Additionally, declining petroleum output, high production costs, debt service obligations, an accumulation of adverse legal judgements from past expropriations, and increasing reluctance of creditors (even politically supportive China and Russia) to lend new money are shutting off Venezuela’s access to hard currency to buy goods from abroad, even though international oil prices have recently trended upward.

Defaulting on the loan obligations of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA) to use the hard currency to import more goods (to ease political pressures) would trigger legal consequences that could bring about the seizure of the company’s assets, even oil shipments abroad, aggravating the regime’s liquidity crisis in a way that could endanger its ability to maintain power. The Venezuelan government has thus engaged in an increasingly desperate series of delays, legal actions, and fund shifting to make bond payments, while making a minimum quantity of foreign currency available to state organs and friends of the regime for the purpose of importing goods to maintain the support of the military and other key regime support groups.

These measures have included drawing down remaining international reserves (largely in gold), continuing to expropriate companies such as General Motors, rolling over bond payments, mortgaging assets such as the petroleum refiner and distributor CITGO, seeking new loans from state partners such as China and trusted companies such as Rosneft, and filing creative legal actions to delay decisions and awards against the government. Yet, little new credit is coming in, and the government is running out of assets to mortgage and legal options to postpone payments.

Venezuela is unable to produce needed goods domestically and lacks the cash to import them. The result, as increasingly evidenced in reports coming out of Venezuela, is ever greater scarcity of everything from food and medicine to toilet paper. Store shelves are empty, and people are spending significant portions of their day seeking food and other necessities. Seventy-two percent of Venezuelans report having lost weight in the past year because of such shortages. As Wall Street Journal reporter John Forero put it, “Venezuela is starving.”

The Maduro government has attempted to address the political implications of such shortages by appointing the military to distribute scarce food. As a result, the system mainly channels the little available food to those who support the regime while also ensuring the military both has reliable access to food for itself as well as opportunities for earning money by selling food on the black market.

With respect to political dynamics, the maneuvers adopted by the Maduro regime have demonstrated its determination to maintain power at any cost and its unwillingness to pursue a sincere political compromise or a constitutional solution that could result in its loss of power. A string of events and U.S. government actions in recent years against leaders in the current Venezuelan regime has highlighted that there are likely solid criminal cases against a significant number of persons in that government, thus signaling to them that a loss of political power could lead to their extradition and imprisonment in the United States. Indicative events include the July 2014 arrest of former Venezuelan security chief Hugo Carbajal when he left the country to become his country’s ambassador to Aruba, the November 2015 arrest in Haiti (and subsequent conviction on narcotrafficking charges) of Maduro’s nephews, and the U.S. Treasury Department’s February 2017 designation of Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami as a foreign narcotrafficking kingpin.

Reflecting such incentives to maintain power, Maduro and his fellow Chavista elites have violated Venezuela’s constitutional order in increasingly egregious ways, demonstrating that a resolution of Venezuela’s political and economic crisis through democratic processes is increasingly improbable. Key actions in this regard include dubious rulings by the pro-Maduro National Electoral Council and the Venezuelan Supreme Court

  • preventing the opposition from using the supermajority it won in December 2015 elections (by blocking the seating of three opposition congressmen, giving pro-Maduro legislators two-thirds of the chamber);
  • blocking a constitutionally stipulated recall referendum against the president;
  • stripping the opposition-dominated congress of budgetary and other authority;
  • ruling unconstitutional virtually all of the initiatives passed by that congress;
  • postponing state and local elections; and
  • eliminating key opposition leaders, including jailing Leopoldo López and disqualifying Henrique Capriles.

The Maduro regime has further begun a process of “renewing” the nation’s political parties, likely designed to disqualify parties and leaders hostile to the regime if currently delayed local elections or future presidential elections are held. Its boldest step to date, however, was its May 2017 initiative to form a constituent assembly and rewrite the constitution, a process almost certain to eliminate the elected opposition-dominated parliament.

If such actions demonstrate the unwillingness of the Maduro regime to respect constitutional processes and limits that could lead to their loss of power, the Venezuelan military has equally demonstrated its unwillingness to intervene to restore the democratic order or to avert a further economic and political meltdown in the country. While Venezuela’s armed forces have traditionally acted as guarantors of the nation’s constitutional order, during the eighteen years of rule by populist leader Hugo Chávez and his successor, Maduro, the military has been politicized and heavily indoctrinated with pro-regime ideology. In addition, virtually the entire cadre of its senior leaders has been replaced by regime loyalists.

Further decreasing the likelihood that the armed forces would act to restore Venezuela’s constitutional order, the military leadership (and particularly the National Guard) has become too deeply involved in drug trafficking, contraband, and other illicit activities to risk allowing or bringing about such change. Furthermore, the regime has embedded Cuban intelligence and counterintelligence agents throughout the military to keep an eye out for defectors.

While the United States has been highly critical of the actions of the Maduro regime, it has not, to date, indicated a disposition to move beyond the imposition of economic sanctions. And, while the OAS under Secretary Luis Almagro has strongly denounced the interruption of the democratic order in Venezuela, the organization principally functions on consensus, and the block of left-leaning anti-U.S. governments represented by the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our Americas (ALBA) continues to oppose any anti-Venezuela action by the OAS. Venezuela’s fellow ALBA countries may not agree with Maduro’s decisions in governing Venezuela, but, arguably, they do not find it in their strategic interest for the OAS (in which the United States is an important actor) to condemn Venezuela or play a significant role in the region’s politics in general. Even if the OAS were to expel Venezuela from the organization for violation of its democratic charter, the Maduro regime already gave its notice in April of its intention to leave the body.

Similarly, while the United Nations Security Council, in theory, could authorize an intervention in Venezuela, permanent members Russia and China would likely veto such action, insofar as each has significant business interests in the country, as well as strategic interest in the persistence of a Venezuelan regime that actively resists the expansion of U.S. influence in the region.

Adding to Venezuela’s problems, the probability that violence will escalate is increased by the government’s creation and deployment throughout the country of collectivos, relatively undisciplined armed bands of civilians, to enforce its will. This will ensure a high cost in lives of Venezuela’s own military or of a foreign military if anyone attempts to change the regime by force.

Potential Scenarios for Venezuela

The plausible scenarios for Venezuela (all negative) loosely fall into three groups, based on assumptions regarding which side prevails and whether violence is sustained or dissipates: (1) resistance burnout and consolidation of the criminal state, (2) escalating violence resolved by imposition of a pseudodemocratic compromise regime, and (3) prolonged criminality, repression, and insurgency.

Resistance burnout and consolidation of the criminal state. In this scenario, the military and the government maintain cohesion, and there is no foreign intervention. Eventually, through the regime’s control of resources and brutal repression (including violence by the collectivos), the majority of civil resistance is suppressed or flees the country. Millions depart the country as economic or political refugees, or to escape the criminal violence. With the diminishing of resistance, the regime consolidates its totalitarian order, probably imposing a new constitution and legislative body. Following the imposition of stability, Maduro is killed or pressured to step down, and power passes to a new leader, similarly committed to the populist ideology and the criminal enterprise, but with more rational economic policies and improved managerial capabilities.

With some stability and improved leadership, key anti-United States statist investors such as the Chinese and the Russians begin loaning new money to the regime, further expanding their access to Venezuela’s oil resources. New credit from these allies, possibly assisted by rising petroleum prices, supports further consolidation of power by the regime.

Escalating violence resolved by imposition of a compromise regime. In this scenario, violence increases significantly over that manifested in May 2017, possibly involving sporadic major confrontations between collectivos and Venezuelans identifying with the opposition and demanding the restoration of the previous constitutional order. Armed, self-interested groups are involved on all sides.

Violence exceeds the ability of Venezuela’s National Guard to control; the regular military, already reluctant to participate in the repression of civilians, is deployed but refuses to act, possibly with some units dissolving or declaring themselves loyal to the opposition. Key extrahemispheric players, including the Chinese and the Russians, make a tacit agreement with the opposition in return for guarantees of the protection of their businesses and other interests in the country. Maduro and other key regime leaders are killed or leave the country, while others cut a deal for a power transition, with the support of key military leaders, in return for limited immunity and protection from extraditions.

Prolonged criminality, repression, and insurgency. In this scenario, like the prior one, violence increases significantly, and the regular military splinters or is too unreliable to be employed. Some key figures possibly flee the country. By contrast to the previous scenario, however, a deal involving a power transition cannot be achieved. Key external players such as Russia and China maintain a “wait-and-see” posture. Protest-based violence, including selective attacks against protesters by collectivos, deteriorates into broader, bloodier efforts by pro-regime forces to intimidate or silence regime opponents through large-scale violence, sparking reprisals by anti-Maduro groups, and occasionally drawing the National Guard and regular military forces into the conflict.

Continuing violence, including possible sabotage of oil installations and other government assets, leads to a broad economic collapse and the highest outflow of refugees of the three contemplated scenarios. In this scenario, major foreign actors, including China, would likely coordinate to evacuate their workers. Depending on the risk posed to Russian, Chinese, and other oil installations, United Nations Security Council agreement to a peacekeeping or peace enforcement mission could be possible, presuming that Chavista forces would see permitting such deployments as advantageous, or would no longer be able to block them.

There is no inherent limit to the deepening of suffering, violence, and criminality that could occur. Indeed, the economic plight and abuses by the regimes in Zimbabwe and North Korea serve as reminders of how much a people can suffer at the hands of a totalitarian regime that pursues irrational policies but is determined to maintain itself in power with the acquiescence of its military.

Implications for Venezuela’s Neighbors

Each scenario discussed implies an expansion of the already significant outflow of refugees to neighboring Colombia and Brazil, nearby Caribbean islands such as Aruba, Curaçao, and Trinidad and Tobago, and the rest of the region, as well as the export of arms and broader impacts on the criminal and political landscape.

Colombia. Historically, people and goods have always moved relatively freely across the Venezuela-Colombia border; the mother of Maduro was born in Colombia, and possibly the president himself was as well. Nonetheless, the influx of Venezuelans into Cúcuta and other Colombian border towns has created some resentment among Colombians. Some perceive the new arrivals as competing with them for jobs, particularly in the informal sector, and some believe the refugees have undermined security.

In 2016 alone, over 150,000 people entered Colombia from Venezuela. Some enter on a temporary basis to earn money in the informal or illicit economy and purchase goods not available in their home country, while others choose to remain indefinitely. The Colombian border town of Cúcuta has been the focus of this movement, with significant increases in the population of Venezuelans in the city, including those who work in the informal sector as prostitutes and street vendors, and in other activities. A portion of those crossing the border from Venezuela into Colombia are actually Colombians by birth who had immigrated to Venezuela years or decades prior in search of economic opportunity or to escape violence.

Colombia’s major cities such as Bogotá, Medellín, and Cali have also registered significant increases in Venezuelans. However, because two major roads from Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, converge on the Colombian border near Cúcuta, an expanded flow of migrants from a deteriorating situation in Venezuela would probably concentrate there and, to a lesser extent, to the north in La Guajira department, including the town of Riohacha, and Valledupar in Cesar department. Nonetheless, some of those leaving Venezuela will also enter Colombia at more southerly points, including Arauca, Puerto Carreño, and Inírida, where controls are weaker.

Of those who initially migrated to Venezuela from Colombia, many now returning are expected to settle in the border region, since they have family or other contacts in the region. Of those arriving from cities on Venezuela’s Caribbean coast, such as Caracas, Puerto Cabello, Maracay, and Valencia, many will likely migrate toward Colombia’s own Caribbean coast, to cities such as Maicao, Barranquilla, and Sincelejo, where the climate and culture are familiar. By contrast, Venezuelans coming from more rural areas to the south of the nation’s principal mountain range will likely gravitate toward cities in the interior of Colombia on the other side of its flatlands, such as Villavicencio and Bogotá.

Other migration routes notwithstanding, the focus of migration on Cúcuta and La Guajira raises particular concerns for Colombia since the area, particularly Catatumbo and other parts of the province of Norte de Santander, is a hotbed of criminal and terrorist activity, with Colombia’s notorious Gulf Clan and the National Liberation Army (ELN) vying to fill in areas being vacated by the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC). In this complex dynamic, the newly arriving immigrants are both potential victims of and recruits for those organizations. Indeed, given the established history of cross-border smuggling, Colombian security officials believe that some people crossing the border are moving drugs and contraband, among other illicit activities.

Venezuela and Neighboring Countries

Further to the south, in border towns such as Arica, Puerto Carreño, and Inírida, although the current and expected volume of immigration from Venezuela is less of a problem, the area is the center of the illicit mining for coltan, a strategic mineral used in a wide array of advanced batteries and electronics products.

In addition to the potentially destabilizing impact of refugee flows on both the Colombian economy and centers of organized crime in the country, Colombian security experts worry that some of Venezuela’s collectivos and other groups will sell their FN FAL (light automatic) rifles and other military equipment to help maintain themselves, flooding contested criminal areas such as Catatumbo with arms as well as people in economic need.

As the Venezuelan crisis deepens and the flow of refugees grows, de facto encampments are likely to form, particularly around Cúcuta. It will be in the interest of Colombia to formally manage such camps to alleviate suffering and to prevent them from becoming centers of criminal recruitment and victimization, given the challenging environment of the zone.

In preparation for a refugee crisis, the Colombian government has an established system, the “national entity for the management of the risk of disasters,” that was used when Venezuela expelled more than six thousand Colombians from the country in August 2015. Nonetheless, security experts in Colombia are concerned that the resource requirements and the complexity of a massive flood of refugees from Venezuela would likely overwhelm the system’s capacity.

For Colombia, such challenges come at a time in which its military’s resources for operations and maintenance are declining significantly, while the government is searching for the resources to fund the substantial obligations that it incurred in the agreement that it signed with the FARC in November 2016. Colombia must also deal with the upsurge of criminal and other violence between the ELN and criminal bands as the FARC demobilizes and withdraws from its former territory.

Beyond outflows of people and guns, as the position of the Maduro leadership in Venezuela becomes more uncertain, Colombian security and defense professionals also worry that Venezuela could seek to provoke a war; this would serve to divert the attention of the Venezuelan people and the international community as well as maintain the unity of the Venezuelan military. Indeed, Venezuela has a long history of aggressive posturing toward Colombia, including territorial claims over La Guajira and substantial parts of Colombia’s eastern plains in Venezuela’s 1999 constitution. In March 2008, then President Chávez called to move ten Venezuelan armored brigades to the Colombian border in response to Colombia’s signing of a base status agreement with the United States. It further conducted a war game that year, Guaicaipuro, focused on a preemptive Venezuelan invasion of the Guajira. More recently, provocative Venezuelan actions include its conduct of a nationwide mobilization exercise, Zamora 200; its deployment of a small military force across the Arauca River into Colombia in March 2017; and the increasingly bellicose rhetoric of the Maduro regime toward Colombia, calling the nation a “failed state.”

Brazil and Guyana. While Colombia has, to date, borne the brunt of the spillover effects of the Venezuela crisis, Venezuelans have also crossed into the Brazilian state of Roraima. On one weekend in June 2016 alone, an estimated 150,000 Venezuelans crossed into Brazil, although only a portion stayed, while others came to purchase food and other goods. In May 2017, the mayor of the Brazilian city of Manaus declared an emergency after more than 350 Venezuelan refugees appeared on its streets, while more Venezuelan refugees have also been seen in the provincial capital of Boa Vista.

With respect to Venezuela’s other neighbor, Guyana, although the two countries share a land border, the relative lack of infrastructure connecting the two across Guyana’s Essequibo region and the lack of population in the area has limited the migration of Venezuelans to Guyana to date. As with Colombia, however, Guyanese worry that in a moment of crisis, the Maduro regime could provoke a military crisis with Guyana as a diversionary tactic, based on a historical dispute over the Essequibo region. The Maduro regime attempted to resurrect the dispute in September 2015, just months after ExxonMobil discovered significant oil deposits off the coast of the disputed area.

Island nations. In addition to the countries that share a land border with Venezuela, instability in the country is affecting its neighbors in the Caribbean. Venezuelans looking to obtain supplies or to escape economic and other hardship in the country are crossing the relatively narrow expanse of Caribbean water to the nearby islands of Aruba, Curaçao, and Trinidad and Tobago. In Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuelans reportedly take a ferry or hire local boats to cross the seven kilometers of water separating the two countries in order to buy goods in Trinidadian stores. In some cases, they bring guns from Venezuela to trade for food and other basic goods. And, the interchange between Venezuela and its island neighbors, exacerbated by the combination of sheer economic need and the breakdown of law and order, has also contributed to piracy off its coast.

In Trinidad and Tobago, as in the La Guajira region on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, an additional risk is created by the possible migration of persons with ties to radical Islamic groups such as Hezbollah. During recent years, Iran reportedly used Venezuela as a point of entry for its Qods forces (religious paramilitary agents), while Venezuelan authorities sold government-issued passports to refugees from Syria and other parts of the Middle East.While there has been little evidence of the outflow of such migrants to date, the established Muslim communities in Trinidad and Tobago and La Guajira make both a logical destination if the crisis in Venezuela deepens. Given that Trinidad and Tobago is already a leading source on a per capita basis for foreign fighters to the Middle East, migration from Venezuela of those affiliated with radical Islamic groups would have a potentially radicalizing and destabilizing effect on the Islamic communities in those areas.

Recommendations for the United States

Despite the systemic looting of Venezuela by the Maduro regime, U.S. intervention in Venezuela would be strategically unwise. While such action could topple Venezuela’s Bolivarian socialist government, it would reinforce the historic perception of the United States in the region as interventionist, sowing distrust and other anti-U.S. sentiment. In addition, in the short-term, it would leave behind an economically decimated, highly corrupted and politically polarized state. Following intervention, the United States would face the dilemma of allowing the newly “liberated” but broken Venezuelan state to continue as a source of criminality and instability in the region or engaging in the lengthy, expensive effort of trying to rebuild the country. In the process, as in the Middle East, the U.S. presence in Venezuela would likely become the focal point for rallying anti-U.S. sentiment, and U.S. forces in Venezuela would present a tempting target for the Chavista “resistance” and leftist terrorist groups posturing as resistors of the “yanqui invasion.”

While it would be unwise for the United States to intervene in Venezuela and unrealistic for the international community to do so, both nonetheless have an important role in shaping the evolution of the situation in a positive direction, and in managing the consequences of the crisis in Venezuela on its neighbors. With respect to Venezuela itself, the United States should give the fullest support possible to the OAS, currently under Secretary Almagro, in condemning the departure from the democratic order established by Venezuela’s constitution, and it should support the OAS and other multilateral and bilateral efforts pressuring the Chavista elite to restore that order. Also, it is imperative that the United States continue to highlight publicly the illegitimacy of the Maduro regime as a criminal elite that has, through administrative machinations, stolen control of the resource-rich state from its people, and which is increasingly relying on the force of arms to continue looting the state with an eye to making good a “getaway” with the money.

As part of such efforts, the United States must lead the international community in isolating the Chavista leadership through individually targeted economic sanctions, cooperating with other players in the international community to deny the Chavistas sanctuary in other countries after their rule. The U.S. State Department, Treasury Department, and other appropriate organizations should particularly focus on the legal and financial arenas, supporting Venezuela’s National Assembly as it invalidates contracts made by the Chavista elite outside the constitutional order. This approach may have only limited short-term impacts in Venezuela itself, but it may help change the calculations of key Maduro regime benefactors such as China and Russia, convincing them that their best strategy for securing their oil holdings and other interests in the country is by working through the constitutionally legitimate National Assembly rather than the executive branch, whose operation outside the constitution leaves its commitments of Venezuelan resources to others without legal validity.

Beyond addressing the crisis in Venezuela itself, the United States should actively work with the country’s neighbors to prevent the byproducts of the crisis, including the outflow of refugees and arms, from destabilizing the region. Venezuela’s neighbor, Colombia, confronts the double challenge of being the country most impacted by the flow of Venezuelan refugees and arms (and possible military provocations), while dealing with the enormous resource and internal security challenges arising from its government’s peace agreement with the FARC. While the Colombians take pride in their own capabilities, they will need more (and different) support from the United States, not less, in the months ahead.

In the short term, the United States should coordinate with Colombia, as well as Aruba, Curaçao, Trinidad and Tobago, and other states, in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross and other nongovernmental organizations, to support the needs of the refugees. It should collaborate with the governments of the region to provide logistics, intelligence, and other support as permitted by national laws to help protect those refugees from victimization and criminal recruitment, as well as to monitor who is coming in, where they are going, and how they are affecting the local criminal environment. Particularly in Colombia, the United States should consider increased intelligence, training, and material support to police, prosecutors, and special military units combatting organized crime, which will likely expand through the refugee and arms flows.

In the unlikely, but not inconceivable, event that the Maduro administration attempts to provoke a military conflict with Colombia or Guyana, the United States should be prepared to provide military and other support to defend the territorial sovereignty of each. However, it should avoid direct military intervention in Venezuelan territory aside from possible selective removal of offensive capabilities being used against Venezuela’s neighbors, such as combat aircraft and helicopters in their bases, or forward-deployed armored vehicles.

As the United States supports the countries of the region in their response to the Venezuelan crisis, it should, wherever possible, work through the OAS and other multilateral institutions of the Inter-American System, including a coordinated response to the handling of refugees. The United States should also look for ways to leverage the events of the Conference of American Armies, of which it is head during the current two-year cycle, as a vehicle for such coordination in military affairs. Finally, the United States should be prepared to work with the United Nations to deploy a peacekeeping or peace enforcement force into the region when the evolution of the crisis and the positions of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council make such action feasible.

Conclusion

The crisis in Venezuela is a tragedy with grave implications for its neighbors and the region. Yet, in that tragedy, there is also opportunity for the United States to strengthen its relationship with countries in the region by tangibly demonstrating its commitment to work with them to mitigate the effects of the crisis. It is also an opportunity to do so in a way that strengthens the OAS and Inter-American System (in whose functionality the United States has a strategic interest) as the principal multilateral vehicle for addressing regional security issues.

The Venezuela crisis may be the first opportunity of the Trump administration to define its vision for democracy, security, and good governance in the region, and to demonstrate its commitment to the partner nations with which the United States shares the Western Hemisphere. Given U.S. connectedness to the region through geography, commerce, and family ties, doing so is critical not only for the Trump administration and Venezuela’s neighbors but also for the United States and the region as a whole.

First published in the Journal “Military Review” July-August 2017, Republished by Author’s permission

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Of Friends And Countries

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“The bird, a nest; the spider, a web; man, friendship,” William Blake reminded us in 1790.  Much earlier, Confucius warned in the 5th century BC, “Have no friends not equal to yourself.”  Seneca was ahead of his time and certainly not thinking of the business lunch when he noted that cultivated friendships for personal gain were of limited duration.

When it comes to countries, we have been informed repeatedly, there are no friends … just interests.  So it is with Afghanistan, from which the US decided to withdraw unilaterally and quickly.  Allies such as Britain who still have a presence there were caught off-guard.  Not altogether happy, slang words like ‘doolally’ have been used to describe President Biden who was also reluctant to respond promptly to British prime minister Boris Johnson’s urgent calls, and kept him waiting several days.  So much for the ‘special relationship’ between the two countries.

It wasn’t always a cosy relationship.  Quite frosty for the first hundred years or so after American independence, it included an attack on Washington and the city’s temporary capture.  During the Civil War they helped the Confederacy surreptitiously but as American power and industrial might continued to grow, the British realized an accommodation would be to their advantage and proceeded to emphasize ties of kinship, language and even democracy.  In the event, they even persuaded the US government to help in two world wars and even join them eventually.

Next, consider the case of England and France.  After the Normann conquest in 1066, French became the court language and continued so for a good three hundred years.  But the relationship also started a rivalry often with claims and counterclaims of being the rightful ruler, which sometimes led to war.  Following the French revolution came the Napolionic wars and their devastation, culminating in the 1815 Battle of Waterloo and French defeat. 

The 19th century also saw the German states being united by Bismarck, and, through industrialization, turned into a single powerful country.  Viewed as a threat by both Britain and France it brought about an entente cordiale … a rapprochement between centuries old implacable enemies.

Their efforts to choke off German growth could have only one result in the end — war.  And the 20th century suffered two with devastating loss of life.  The plan to help Germany (at least the western half) recover after the Second World War had flattened it, brought it within the US ambit.  Lest anyone think the aid was entirely altruistic, far from it, for a new threat had arisen … that of the mighty Soviet Union, and a quivering Western Europe was trying to shore up its side.  Yes indeed, countries do not have friends … only interests.

And so the Afghans who helped the US (the translators and such like) tried to get away during the withdrawal; with the rapid Taliban takeover, they could feel the threat to life and limb in their bones, and some knew they were on lists.  Many did leave on the American planes but out of the crowds packing Kabul airport, most were left behind.

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20 years after 9/11: American decline in the Islamic world and China- Russian emergence

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The main headlines and axes

  1. The first axis: American strategy in the Islamic world, to draw a new political and economic map for establishing the (New Middle Eastern order)
  • The second axis: The developments of American strategy in the Islamic world after the events of September 11
  • The third axis: The internal and external overall results of American policies after September 11
  • The fourth axis: The implications of American withdrawal from Afghanistan on the image of the USA in the Islamic world
  • The fifth axis: The “ideological and religious clash” between the Islamic world and the USA after the American accusations to theSaudi Arabia’s responsibility” on the September 11 events
  • The sixth axis: The impact of “Chinese automatic control and Russian disobedience theories” on the theory of “American hegemony” in the Islamic world after September 11events

   The American strategy towards the Islamic world was not the result of the events of September 11, 2001. Rather, the United States of America has a tight strategy towards the region that has crystallized clearly since the beginning of the Cold War era and to this day, but the events of September 11 formed a sign, on the world arena and in the field of international relations in particular. It prompted the United States of America to announce a new strategy based on the so-called (War on Terror).

  Although the American strategy in the Islamic world is based on a set of constants represented in “controlling oil, maintaining Israel’s security and protecting other American interests”, the post-9/11 world has produced new American goals in the region, such as what led to changing the means of achieving the strategy’s goals. The American approach in the Islamic world towards the direct use of military force to protect and preserve these goals or to achieve new goals has become the core of this strategy in the region.

  Based on the mentioned facts, the American strategy towards the Islamic world after the events of September 11th came to briefly address this strategy through a number of axes:

The first axis: American strategy in the Islamic world, to draw a new political and economic map for establishing the (New Middle Eastern order)

  The end of the Cold War constituted a major international variable in its impact on the American strategy in the world in general and in the Middle East and Islamic world in particular. We mean the Islamic world as a wide region, which enjoys its specifications, structures, complexities and paths that link the East to the West and are composed of a group of diverse regions. It is located in southwest Asia, which is in the middle of the world, and there are several seas extending into it. It has an international strategy. The “Islamic world” in particular is one of the richest regions in the world with its oil wealth, and it is in the middle of the near and Far East.

  The Islamic world is considered a strategic region from a political and economic point of view because it contains the most important sea straits in the world. In addition, this region contains the most important American interests in the world, represented by the presence of Israel in it, and the richness of the Middle East region in oil, as it possesses the largest production and oil reserves in the world, and the schemes show the political and economic importance of this region.

  The end of the Islamic world and the accompanying international and regional changes contributed to the achievement of most of the goals of the American strategy in the Islamic world, because the change that took place at the level of the regional regions, particularly the Middle East, through what the transformations of the international system made possible for the United States of America and the advanced industrial countries from New mechanisms are used to possess a growing power to control the internal and external interactions of the region and the events of strategic change in it, since the Islamic world is one of the regions most affected by the strategic shifts in the structure of the international system. The events of 1990 and the end of the Cold War between the American and Soviet poles had a prominent impact on The emergence of the new American strategy in the region, especially after the success of the American administration in the events of the comprehensive and massive mobilization of the coalition forces against Iraq in the second Gulf War in 1991, which showed that American power was built on the fact that the United States of America is the only country that possesses very huge capabilities in diverse fields militarily politically, economically and diplomatically.

  If these events open the way for “drawing a new political and economic map” for the Islamic world and establishing (the new Middle Eastern order), through the basis of settlements between the Arabs and Israel and in the light of the Madrid Conference in 1991, accompanied by American efforts to keep Israel stronger than the Arab countries in order to achieve its goals in the Islamic world, after the “destruction of Iraq’s power”, which, from the American point of view, was the greatest danger to Israel’s security and existence in the region.

  The United States of America, at the beginning of the nineties, and after the collapse of the Soviet system, put forward a set of ideas and the foundations of its systems on the basis that it is the new world order based on what they call “democracy and human rights, and openness to the free world under intellectual and ideological justifications of totalitarianism, and the imposition of American hegemony on vital areas”, such as: the Islamic world and the Arab Gulf region, after the Madrid Conference, a dangerous methodology was followed with the aim of weakening the Arabs’ political, economic and cultural power and their defensive ability, and preaching the “Islamic world and the Middle East new system as a regional system in which Israel would have a central role”, it was an actual attempt to “marginalize the regional Arab and Islamic role and squander the sources of its true power”. It also sought the American administration, as the leader of that regime, prevented the dismantling of some Arab countries and regions in accordance with the so-called Israeli peace desire and the development of special policies for some countries, such as the “policy of double containment towards Iraq and Iran”.

  After the second Gulf War, the United States of America began to consolidate its direct military presence in the Islamic world as an application of the principle of the “new international order”. On this basis, the American strategy in the Islamic world after the Cold War was based on several concepts, the most important of which, are:

  1. Deterring and repelling any external or internal aggression or aggression that harms the interests of the United States of America and its allies and friends inside and outside the Islamic world and Arab Gulf region, according to the American perception.
  • Preventing the Iranian military adventure in the region.
  • Containing Iraq and Iran by following the policy of “dual containment and preventing the emergence of new regional powers capable of threatening American interests in the region”.
  • As well as setting new security arrangements for the Islamic world and maintaining a continuous and permanent US military presence, and relying on local allies such as Israel and Turkey, in preparation for “linking the Middle East with a security-economic-military alliance led by the USA”.
  • Maintaining American hegemony over the oil, financial and investment markets and encouraging “American political, economic and cultural penetration”.
  • Seeking to “change the political discourse towards democracy and human rights”, rejecting all forms of individualism, terrorism, arbitrariness and injustice, and working to create a “new social system for progression and development”.
  • Facilitating of the “cultural and economic normalization with Israel for the sake of peace” between the Arabs, Islamic world and Israel.
  • There are many American several measures that could lead to the path to lasting peace in the Islamic world, including the following:
  1. Ending the Arabs once and for all, what he called the “illegal boycott of Israel”, this constitutes an “economic war”.
  • Establishing economic and commercial relations between Israel and its neighbors.
  • Forming “multilateral agreements to protect the environment in the Islamic world and Middle East region”, with an emphasis on ensuring that each country has adequate supplies of water resources.

The American strategy towards the Islamic world continued on the above-mentioned foundations, some of which it inherited from the Cold War phase, where it has not changed significantly except the “issue of containing the communist influence in the region, which ended after the collapse of the Soviet Union”, but the issue that affected the change in the American strategy is represented by the means and tools used by the United States of America to achieve its main goals, so that the “American direct use of military force has been activated in achieving American goals and consolidating American influence in the Islamic world and Middle East region”.

The second axis: The developments of American strategy in the Islamic world after the events of September 11

The events of September 11, 2001 are a “decisive point in re-formulating the American strategy in the Islamic world in particular”, as the events of “September 11 were considered a “transit point between two different international systems, crossing the post-Cold War order to the new order, which so-called “war on terror”.

On this basis, the “events of September 11, 2001, were an influential change on the American global strategy in general and the American strategy towards the Islamic world in particular”, as these events produced the reality of military power as a force that controls the situation and sets it on the American tone.

As a result of the so-called “war on terror”, the United States of America began to market daily the new political geography that it intends to impose on the world by military force to achieve its goals and hegemony. On the so-called “war on terror”, as it was the “starting point of the American strategy to redraw the map of the Islamic world, Middle East and Central Asia to expand the area of ​​American hegemony”.

The Islamic world is not only the field in which the United States of America demonstrates its strength and tests its weapons, but it is also the site from which the United States of America circulates a “new formula for the new world order, under the pretext of what so-called “war on terror” as a justification used by the United States of America to resort to military force in Islamic world”. In this regard, “Daniel Babis” said that:

“Islamic fundamentalists are challenging the West with greater force and depth than the Communists, and they are violating our policies”

Referring to the statement led by “Edward Dejerejian”, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs says:

“The United States, as the only remaining superpower that is looking for an ideology to fight it, should move towards leading a crusade against Islam”

Here, we can as well notice the same expression used by the American administration at the beginning of the new American campaign against the Islamic world, which began in “Afghanistan and Iraq”.

This vision was “prepared even before the events of September 11”, which confirms that the “developments were prepared and the ideas were ready and was waiting for the moment of their theatrical release into existence”.

The events of September came to be the “opportunity for the emergence of this American scheme”. As is clear, the “ideological dimension” is clear in the American vision that was clearly expressed by politicians and thinkers in an important book which entitled: (America and political Islam, a clash of cultures or a clash of interests).

The third axis: The internal and external overall results of American policies after September 11

The events of September 11, 2001 constituted a “major turning point in the history of the United States”, whether in terms of its domestic or foreign policy, or in terms of international relations, especially “what links the West with the Arab and Islamic world”.The war on terror became the primary focus of international relations under the pressure of the United States after the events of September 11th. The latter organized a “military campaign in Afghanistan and then invaded Iraq under the pretext of fighting terrorism”. The war on terrorism has changed the situation of many countries in the world, such as Pakistan, which has transformed from a pariah state subject to economic sanctions to a preferred partner in the fight against terrorism and the “Al-Qaeda” organization it represents, so, we can identify the whole results of the American strategy after September 11, on the American internal and external policies, as follow:

The defense budget is constantly increasing

In its infancy, this war provided the administration of US President “George W. Bush” with a cover to do whatever it wanted. This administration got all the money it asked for from the US Congress for a national missile defense program, the “Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Treaty” was abolished without internal or external fanfare, and it got big increases in the Pentagon’s budget.

The economic effects of the September 11 attacks on the United States

Except for the loss of life, the two towers and the four planes hijacked by the terrorists, there are no direct and negative economic effects that led to a crisis. The effects did not exceed what was mentioned, with other immediate losses, including the closure of the American Stock Exchange for some days, and the effects on airlines and tourism for a period of one or two years. As for the only direct impact, it was in the American and global insurance sector, which rose after the events by 400 percent as a result of the compensation paid by the insurance companies. There was also an increase in the amount of risks in air and sea transport and life insurance.

Reducing the freedoms of the American citizen

The war on terrorism during and after the Bush era led to a “curtailment of freedoms for American citizens and foreign residents alike”, as there were numerous of “harassments of public liberties and the American citizen became subject to extensive searches”, especially at airports, and electronic wiretaps and other modern means that enable the American authorities to follow anyone in a way minutes, whether by e-mail or mobile phone.

Cultural and intellectual monuments

The cultural and intellectual effects of the post-9/11 events have not stopped yet, and they are still multiplying and continuing. The phenomenon of terrorism after 9/11 revealed to the United States that it had another “enemy” that it had been searching for since the fall of the Soviet Union, and by that we mean Islam, especially “radical Islam”. These events showed great transformations at the “cultural and intellectual level among Americans and the West in general”, and led to the emergence of what is known as the “clash of civilizations” where “Islam, through this theory, became the enemy of civilization and peace”, because it represents, according to the proponents of this theory from among the hard-line conservatives, the “real problem” behind the emergence of terrorism In the world, which is reflected intellectually and culturally on the “image of Muslims and Arabs and their societies in the United States and the rest of the world”.

An imbalance of power in the world

One of the important effects of the attacks of September 11, 2001 was those that led to an imbalance in the balance of power in the world, as no country had ever controlled the world in this way, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union. With the defense budget constantly rising, the United States has tightened its economic, technical, and cultural grip on the nations of the world. The United States has maintained its position as a superpower through nuclear weapons and the extent of their spread according to its defense strategy, and this is evident in dealing with the Iranian nuclear file, as a prominent example.

Emerging the new concept of “Preventive war” after the September 11 attacks

Prior to the September 11 attacks, political crises depended on solving these problems through international or diplomatic bodies. But after the events, the military sides became dependent on a new principle, which is “preventive war”, which relied on surprise strikes without waiting for confirmed evidence of the hostility of the target party.

Here, US Defense Secretary “Ronald Rumsfeld” said at an important “NATO meeting in Brussels” in 2002 that:

“The alliance cannot wait for irrefutable evidence to act against terrorist groups or countries that possess chemical, biological or nuclear weapons”

This statement was a prelude to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and a “preemptive strike according to the new concept of the US military strategy”.

The fourth axis: The implications of American withdrawal from Afghanistan on the image of the USA in the Islamic world

The withdrawal from Afghanistan represents a “major blow to the prestige and confidence of the United States and its allies around the world, but especially in the Islamic world and Middle East”, as follow:

It is expected that after the withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan, the “Islamic world will witness more daring jihadist movements after the collapse of Afghanistan”.

The caveat here is that Afghanistan will serve as a “center of cooperation between terrorist groups, which will encourage various attacks in the Islamic world”.

The Taliban’s control of the Afghan arena is also linked to the “increased frequency of attacks launched by ISIS in the Islamic world after the withdrawal from Afghanistan in Iraq and Syria and the attack on Kabul Airport”.

It is expected that with the Taliban movement taking control of Afghanistan that the “extremist movements will continue to politically and militarily flourish in the Islamic world”.

America’s allies in the Islamic world have taken notice and benefited from the Afghan lesson, and “Washington’s allies in the Islamic world have increased fears that the United States will abandon its friends in the region when it becomes politically appropriate”, for example, while the corrupt Afghan government and army bear some responsibility for the Taliban seized power, but the Americans weren’t supposed to turn their backs on their allies just because they had a failed state.

As examples of the United States abandoning its allies in the Islamic world, the “Kurds in Syria who prepared Washington and played a pivotal role in defeating ISIS” can now be seen, as the United States continues to “abandon its responsibilities as a leader in the Islamic world in favor of China and Russia”.

The American failure at Afghanistan has also created a “regional vacuum in the Islamic world” that countries such as (Iran and Turkey) are trying to fill.

Here, we find that the right-wing establishment in the United States is the last political faction in Washington that understands long-term security goals. The reality is that “US allies in the Islamic world and Middle East cannot now count on a democratic administration or even within a conservative populist president”.

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan is due to a “long-decade bipartisan failure to achieve Washington’s goals and the loss of US support for the war”, but the way in which the Biden administration withdrew is inefficient, and US leaders have repeatedly exaggerated and claimed the ability of the Afghan army, and it is also clear That Washington had no plan to evacuate the Americans or the Afghans who helped the international coalition.

The United States is struggling now to take steps to “ensure that its allies have the ability and willingness to defend themselves, and work to build regional alliances that can defend each other against any threat”, particularly from Iran.

The “Joe Biden’s administration” is trying to ensure that major “U.S. deployments in the Islamic world are unlikely to change”, and that U.S. adversaries, whether “Iran, China, or Russia”, are expected to discredit the allies of the United States in the usefulness of their friendship in Washington.

We find here that tens of thousands of Afghans who risked their lives to work for freedom and a modern state in Afghanistan, their efforts went in vain, a situation similar when the United States withdrew from Iraq in 2011, where “USA has failed as well to protect some of the Iraqis who worked with it during the first years of that the war”.

The current priority in Washington is to “overcome the negative effects of the unorganized withdrawal, and work to prevent the emergence of security threats inside Afghanistan, which could spread regionally and globally, especially in the Islamic world”, as we witnessed in (Iraq and neighboring Syria with the rise of ISIS) in 2012-2014, with some fears and expectations that the “security dynamics can change dramatically with the influence of “extremist Islamic factions in the Islamic world”.

Here, We can conclude that “Afghanistan is not just a war that went wrong, as the many mistakes in the American war in Afghanistan are shared by 4 American presidents”, and President “Joe Biden” bears responsibility for his decisions, as his administration failed in an orderly withdrawal, and is striving to ensure the safety of diplomats and other Americans in the country.

The fifth axis: The “ideological and religious clash” between the Islamic world and the USA after the American accusations to the Saudi Arabia’s responsibility on the September 11 events

The disclosure of the secret documents of the September 11 attacks, if (it is proven that Saudi officials were involved in them), may restore relations between Riyadh and Washington to their worst condition, especially if the US courts decide to impose huge compensation payments to the families of the victims against the Saudi government.

And this American crisis in the face of Saudi Arabia comes due to the pressures that US President “Biden” is subjected to respond to the continuous pressures from the American families of the victims, which sent a clear message to President “Biden” with “not aligned with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on this issue”, referring to the bias what was clear to his predecessor “Trump”, towards Saudi Crown Prince “Mohammed bin Salman” during the case of the assassination of opposition journalist “Gamal Khashoggi” in Turkey, and the events that followed.

  Here, the US Department of Justice announced its decision to review confidential documents related to the September 11, 2001 attacks, which the US government had imposed (a cover of secrecy) on them for more than 20 years, following the warnings of the families of the victims of those attacks of the need to hold the Biden administration accountable. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is implicated in this matter, which has exacerbated the crisis between Riyadh and Washington in the recent period.

  Here, the Biden administration is facing pressures to declassify US government documents, which they claim to show that “Saudi Arabia’s leaders were supportive of attacks against American targets”, with the US officials declaring that “a lot of investigative evidence has been revealed that proves the involvement of Saudi government officials in supporting the attacks against Washington”.

   We find here that a “number of American agencies and various administrations sought to prove Saudi Arabia’s responsibility for the events of September 11”, which is what both (the US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation) actively sought, while claiming that they maintained the confidentiality of this information and prevented the American people from knowing the full truth about 9/11 attacks.

   President “Biden” and the White House staff welcomed the US Department of Justice’s decision to review the documents and reveal the facts to the American public, with President Biden’s affirmation that:

“As I promised during my campaign, my administration is committed to ensuring the maximum degree of transparency by law, and to adhere to the strict guidelines issued during the Obama and Biden administrations on invoking the privilege of state secrets”

 With the Biden’ stress that: “In this context, I welcome the filing of the Department of Justice, which is committed to conducting a new review of the documents, as the government has previously confirmed the privileges, and to do so as quickly as possible”

   We find that at a time when the families of the victims of the September 11 events are calling for Saudi Arabia to be held accountable, the latter has denied its involvement in those terrorist attacks against Washington. For several years, family members of 9/11 victims have sought “US government documents relating to whether Saudi Arabia aided or financed any of the 19 individuals associated with Al-Qaeda who carried out the devastating attack against those US targets”

   Because of this “ideological and religious conflict between Washington and Saudi Arabia”, US-Saudi relations have been greatly affected, especially after the case of the killing of the Saudi dissident journalist “Jamal Khashoggi” in Istanbul in 2018.

 In February 2021, the Biden administration issued a report that found that Saudi Crown Prince “Mohammed bin Salman” was directly responsible for approving the killing of “Khashoggi”, while Washington imposed sanctions on dozens of Saudis linked to human rights violations, and decided to “end American support for the Saudi war in Yemen”.

  At that time, Biden and other officials confirmed that they would end the warmth that characterized the (Trump administration’s relationship with Saudi Arabia), noting their desire to end America’s blindness to human rights violations inside Saudi Arabia, but they also made it clear that the United States would continue to support, protect and work with the Kingdom because of their common interests.

  Hence, we find that the “current negative relations between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” have reached their lowest levels during the administration of “Joe Biden” and Saudi Arabia, as one of the most complex and problematic issues during the era of the Democratic US President “Joe Biden”, unlike his Republican predecessor “Donald Trump”, which takes the form or character of an “ideological or religious conflict” between American liberal values, especially that of the American Democratic Party followed by “Joe Biden”, and those American accusations of Saudi Arabia of adopting the “Wahhabi Salafi ideology”, and of its involvement in terrorist attacks against Washington.

 Accordingly, all of these mentioned factors will definitely negatively effect on the “American- Islamic world relationships”, given that “Saudi Arabia is the leader and locomotive of the Sunni Muslim sectarian in the Islamic world”, and may lead to “ideological clash between American values in the face of Saudi religious ideology”, which Washington accuses of supporting terrorism and causing its victims, which in turn will lead to the “collapse of American influence in the entire Middle East and Islamic word, given Saudi Arabia’s regional position in it”.

The sixth axis: The impact of “Chinese automatic control and Russian disobedience theories” on the theory of “American hegemony” in the Islamic world after September 11events

The Chinese and Russian ideologies are similar in their view toward the (events of September 11th), a real change in the course and directions of international relations since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, and Russia and China agree that the scene of “unilateral American hegemony” is what brought the world to September 11, 2001. And that the direction of international relations for China and Russia represents the direction of (American hegemony) over the world, according to the “two theories” that are fundamentally important for Russia and China, namely:

The Russian theory of “contradiction” in the face of the policies of American hegemony, especially after the events of September 11:

This trend in international relations is based on (imposing the Russian method) in the international arena in the face of the (theory of unilateral American hegemony), especially in the Islamic world, in addition to this was clearly demonstrated by the “Russian rejection position to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003”, and the “Russian tendency towards rejecting Washington’s policies), Russia is trying to implement its violation of the United States of America through a “long-term strategy”, such as “containing American unilateralism and its failed policies in the Islamic world”, which caused the “emergence of terrorism and ISIS in Iraq and then Syria”, participating in efforts to combat terrorism in the Arab region, and to ensure the flow of oil and the stability of its prices, with the beliefs of the peoples of the Middle East and the Islamic world in the possibility of (Russia and China leading the world together), but they play a role Pivotal in confronting and violating the unilateral American tendencies, to contain the dangers of the American power of domination and hegemony.

Chinese automatic control theory in confronting the ideology of unilateralism and spreading the trend of one American liberal values:

This is a Chinese theory formulated by the Chinese researcher “Li Hong Xing”, and known as “automatic control theory”, in his book “China will lead the world”, and he believes that China’s “automatic control” of international relations and the world is carried out through the following points of control, which are media control, China’s tough diplomatic confrontation with the United States of America, maintaining China’s energy and oil security against Washington, securing waterways, and others.

By integrating the two theories of “Russian Contradiction theory to the UA and automatic Chinese control theory in the face of American hegemonic policies in the Islamic world” after the events of September 11, we find that it has been able to undermine and control the unilateral, hegemonic American power, through:

The global Sino-Russian diplomatic and media blockade on the United States: in the sense of showing all of its negatives to the international community, and causing many crises in global international relations to carry out that task.

The expansion of Russian-Chinese blocs in the Asia-Pacific and Pacific region: by trying to control the oil of Asian regions, expanding economic activities through the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and Russian partnerships for energy security, natural gas and oil across the axis of Siberian territories, in addition to working to establish political blocs It revolves around the Sino-Russian axis, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and for collective security, and others.

China and Russia’s control over important strategic waterways: Here comes the work to create a reality of Chinese-Russian control over some important passages around the world, especially in the Middle East, to protect the interests of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and Russian partnerships, and the Russian-Chinese military presence, especially in Syrian territory.

Chinese and Russian direct confrontation with American policies in the Islamic world and Middle East: in order to maintain the flows of “international energy security” to Russia and China, and to oppose the policies of American hegemony in international organizations, such as: the United Nations, by using the “veto” to confront any American political or military moves In the Middle East, and calling “the countries allied to Russia and China” to the Middle Eastern countries that cooperate with them, and working together to confront the American expansion in the Middle East, on several political and economic axes, to weaken the American hegemony to control the region.

Strengthening the Chinese presence in the Islamic world through the “Belt and Road Initiative” and Russian partnerships and increasing influence: It is an organized and long-term strategy based on Chinese and Russian projects, development partnerships, and China’s assistance to the Belt and Road countries in the Islamic world by modernizing infrastructure and working joint projects, in addition to provide grant support and training.

Attempting to restore Chinese and Russian power internationally in contrast of the decline of the USA: in an attempt to move towards force in international relations, as this has become an imposed reality in the world today due to the policies of American hegemony, and this trend uses (Asian depth) mainly, and (European depth) in a secondary, and that guarantees Russia and China the restoration of their strategic and political prestige in international affairs.

Sino-Russian energy strategy in the Middle East, Asia and the world: by following the “international energy security” approach, in which Russia and China are trying to strengthen their direct control over oil and gas transmission lines from (Central Asia, Caspian Sea, Iran and the Islamic world), and to establish future energy projects on their lands, “International energy security” depends on economic and political control by securing transit routes for the interests of Russia and China, subjecting them to Chinese-Russian control, and deploying missile shields, submarines and barges to secure these routes, in addition to security cooperation with Asian, Arab and Islamic countries, and encouraging the establishment of unions and economic development partnerships with all institutions and countries, and support the political positions of Arab, Islamic and Asian countries.

Through the overall previous analysis of the case before and after September 11 events, we conclude that what is known as “religious coups and the emergence of radical terrorism” is one of the most prominent transformations in the global scene after Al-Qaeda’s attack on the heart of modern Western capitalist civilization in the United States of America. After the return of the “Taliban movement” to power in Afghanistan, many questions are raised about the lessons learned from the post-9/11 years on the world.

Accordingly, we can conclude and reach out here that “all the wars led by the United States in the name of spreading Western values, democracy, modernity, human rights, the aid of allies and friends of Washington around the world)….etc., all of which are American strategies and tools that have proven to be unsuccessful, especially in the developing world. Therefore, many theories have appeared today, rejecting and emphasizing the futility of the theory of the “clash of civilizations”.

Noting that after two decades of the events of September 11, and the failure of the United States to achieve its goals in Afghanistan, the control of the “Taliban movement” and the strengthening of the Islamic State organization “ISIS” in the Islamic world, which led to the “collapse and decline of the power of the United States of America in exchange for the rise of the Russian Federation and the Chinese in the Arab Gulf and the Muslim world”, which has “lost confidence in the American machinery”.

In my concluded opinion, this is the general attitude towards Washington in the Islamic world and the Middle East region, especially after the “American escalation of its dispute with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its accusation, after two decades, of being involved in the events of September 11”, which led to the “religious, moral and ideological collision between the Muslim world and the Arab Gulf states in the face of USA”, due to the “failed American mechanisms” in the region in favor of the emerging of both “Russia and China” power.

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China And U.S. Are On the Brink of War

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Right now, the neocons that Biden has surrounded himself with are threatening to accuse him of having ‘lost Taiwan’ if Biden backs down from his many threats to China, threats that the U.S. Government will reverse America’s “One China” policy, which has been in place ever since the 28 February 1972 “Shanghai Communique”, when the U.S. Government signed with China to the promise and commitment that “The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position. It reaffirms its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves.” If Biden sticks with that, and fails to follow through on his threats that America will invade China if war breaks out between Taiwan and China, then the neocons will say that the U.S., under Biden, has failed to ‘stand up for our allies’, and that therefore China will have effectively beaten America to become the #1 power, on his watch — merely because he had refused to change U.S. policy in the way that the neocons (America’s “Military-Industrial Complex” or “MIC” or weapons-manufacturers — and their many lobbyists and supporters in Congress, the press, and elsewhere) have recently been demanding. 

The Truman-created CIA edits, and even writes, Wikipedia; and, so, Wikipedia’s article on “Taiwan” opens by saying “Taiwan,[II] officially the Republic of China (ROC),[I][h] is a country in East Asia.[21][22]” But that assertion of Taiwan’s being “a country,” instead of a province of China, is a lie, not only because Taiwan (despite its propaganda urging the U.N. to accept it to become a member-nation of the U.N.) has not been accepted by the U.N. as a member-nation, but also because the U.S. Government itself promised, in 1972, that both in fact and in principle, the U.S. opposes any demand that might be made by any government of Taiwan to become a separate nation — no longer a part of China. Ever since 1972, any such demand by a government in Taiwan violates official U.S. Government policy since 1972, and is merely another part of the MIC’s wishful thinking, that America will invade China. So: the demand by the neocons, for America’s Government to support a public declaration by Taiwan’s government that it is no longer a part of China, is part of the pressure upon Biden, to yield to the Pentagon lobby (which largely made him the President). Biden’s threats might be made in order to satisfy his financial backers, but, if he fulfills on any of those threats, there will then be a war between America and China.

China is insisting that the anti-communist Chinese who in 1945 escaped to China’s island of Formosa or Taiwan — which Japan had conquered and militarily occupied between 1895 and 1945 — illegitimately controlled that land just as the Japanese had illegitimately controlled it between 1895 and 1945, and so China claims that Taiwan remains and has remained a province of China, as it has been ever since at least 1683, when China’s Qing Dynasty formally declared it to be a part of China. Taiwan was ruled that way until 1895, when Japan conquered China and one provision of the peace-treaty was that Taiwan would henceforth be part of Japan’s territory, no longer Chinese. 

After WW II, when FDR’s America was allied with China against Japan, Truman’s America (the source of neoconservatism, or overt U.S. imperialism) supported the anti-communist Chinese, not mainland China, and therefore generally backed Taiwan’s independence from the mainland. However, that intense Trumanesque U.S. neoconservatism ended formally with the 1972 Shanghai Communique. And Biden is now considering whether America will go to war in order not only to restore, but now to further intensify, Truman’s neoconservative, imperialistic, U.S. thrust — going beyond even Truman.

Here is how that is currently playing out:

On September 10th, the Financial Times headlined “Washington risks Beijing ire over proposal to rename Taiwan’s US office” and reported that the neocons were pressing for Biden to change the diplomatic status of Taiwan’s “representative office in Washington” so as to become, in effect, a national Embassy. “A final decision has not been made and would require President Joe Biden to sign an executive order.” This executive order would, in its implications, terminate the Shanghai Communique, and go back to the hard ‘anti-communist’ (but actually pro-imperialistic) policy in which the U.S. Government will be bringing its weapons (and maybe also its soldiers) close enough to China so as to be able to obliterate China within ten minutes by a surprise nuclear attack which would eliminate China’s retaliatory capabilities. It would be even worse than the 1963 Cuban Missile crisis endangered America. So, of course, China’s Government wouldn’t tolerate that. And they don’t.

On September 12th, the Chinese Government newspaper Global Times issued “Teach the US, Taiwan island a real lesson if they call for it: Global Times editorial”, which stated that:

If the US and the Taiwan island change the names, they are suspected of touching the red line of China’s Anti-Secession Law, and the Chinese mainland will have to take severe economic and military measures to combat the arrogance of the US and the island of Taiwan. At that time, the mainland should impose severe economic sanctions on the island and even carry out an economic blockade on the island, depending on the circumstances. 

Militarily, Chinese mainland’s fighter jets should fly over the island of Taiwan and place the island’s airspace into the patrol area of the PLA. This is a step that the mainland must take sooner or later. The name change provides the Chinese mainland with sufficient reason to strengthen our sovereign claim over the island of Taiwan. It is anticipated that the Taiwan army will not dare to stop the PLA fighter jets from flying over the island. If the Taiwan side dares open fire, the Chinese mainland will not hesitate to give “Taiwan independence” forces a decisive and destructive blow.

More importantly, if the Chinese mainland turns a blind eye to the US and the Taiwan island this time, they will definitely go further in the next step. According to reports, Joseph Wu, leader of the external affairs of the Taiwan island, participated in the talks between senior security officials from the US and the island in Annapolis on Friday. Next time, they may publicly hold the meeting even in the US State Department in Washington DC. As the US will hold the “Summit for Democracy” by the end of this year, if we do not contain the insolence of the US and the Taiwan island, Washington might even really invite Tsai Ing-wen to participate in the summit. It will be much worse in nature than former Taiwan regional leader Lee Teng-hui’s visit to the US as an “alumnus” in 1995.

Will peace come if the Chinese mainland puts up with all this and swallows its anger for the sake of peace? If the mainland doesn’t strike back decisively, US warships will dock at the island of Taiwan, its fighter aircraft will land on the island and its troops may be stationed in the island again. At that time, where will be China’s prestige as a great power? How can the country maintain its system of defending its interests on the international stage?

So: either the U.S., or else China, must back down — or else, there will be war between China and the U.S.

Of course, each side has its allies. Perhaps UK will put its neck on the line to conquer China, and perhaps Russia will put its neck on the line to conquer America, but in any case, the result if Biden yields to the neocons, will be World War III.

They press him hard. For example, the British neocon, Niall Ferguson, wrote in the Economist, on August 20th:

There is nothing inexorable about China’s rise, much less Russia’s, while all the lesser countries aligned with them are economic basket cases, from North Korea to Venezuela. China’s population is ageing even faster than anticipated; its workforce is shrinking. Sky-high private-sector debt is weighing on growth. Its mishandling of the initial outbreak of covid-19 has greatly harmed its international standing. It also risks becoming the villain of the climate crisis, as it cannot easily kick the habit of burning coal to power its industry.

And yet it is all too easy to see a sequence of events unfolding that could lead to another unnecessary war, most probably over Taiwan, which Mr Xi covets and which America is (ambiguously) committed to defend against invasion. …

The ambitions of China’s leader, Xi Jinping, are also well known — along with his renewal of the Chinese Communist Party’s ideological hostility to individual freedom, the rule of law and democracy. … If Beijing invades Taiwan, most Americans will probably echo the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, who notoriously described the German bid to carve up Czechoslovakia in 1938 as “a quarrel in a far away country, between people of whom we know nothing”. …

That brings us to the crux of the matter. Churchill’s great preoccupation in the 1930s was that the government was procrastinating — the underlying rationale of its policy of appeasement — rather than energetically rearming in response to the increasingly aggressive behaviour of Hitler, Mussolini and the militarist government of imperial Japan. A key argument of the appeasers was that fiscal and economic constraints — not least the high cost of running an empire that extended from Fiji to Gambia to Guiana to Vancouver — made more rapid rearmament impossible.

It may seem fanciful to suggest that America faces comparable threats today — not only from China, but also from Russia, Iran and North Korea. Yet the mere fact that it seems fanciful illustrates the point. The majority of Americans, like the majority of Britons between the wars, simply do not want to contemplate the possibility of a major war against one or more authoritarian regimes, coming on top of the country’s already extensive military commitments.

Scholars get well paid to write such propaganda for the MIC (companies such as Lockheed Martin). Comparing China’s Government with that of Nazi Germany, and proposing that Biden become, for present-day America, what (the equally imperialistic) Churchill was for Britain’s in the late 1930s, might be stupid enough, in just the right way, to inspire someone like Biden, in precisely the wrong way, as it’s intended to do. If so, there will be WW III.

On September 14th, the Editor-in-Chief of Global Times wrote that “China has absolutely no way to retreat. The one-China principle is the fundamental principle that we must insist on.” Similarly, in the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis — when the Soviet Union was about to place its missiles on an island near America’s coast — America was willing to go to WW III if necessary in order to prevent that from happening. America established its “red line,” and the Soviet Union did not cross it. We’ll see what Biden does. And, if he makes the wrong decision, we’ll then see what Russia does.

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