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‘An Empire In Decline’ - A year of uncertainty in U.S. foreign policy

By Brian E. Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Dec 25, 2018 - 8:57:38 PM

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As 2018 comes to a close, President Donald Trump announced he is pulling the 2,000 American troops from Syria and declared that ISIS, the Islamic State terror network has been defeated. The announcement caused mixed reactions of agreement among some Trump critics and disagreement among some U.S. lawmakers who rejected the decision.

“(It’s) good news if it happens,” Tim Anderson, Australia-based political economist and activist told The Final Call.

“Good news even if Trump is simply repeating that the U.S. has no business there,” he added. Mr. Trump made the announcement Dec. 19.

In a Dec. 20 tweet Medea Benjamin, a Trump critic and co-founder of the peace group Code Pink, said, “The caterwauling from bipartisan DC elite hawks re Trump #syriawithdrawal shows they are tone deaf to the US public desire to disengage from decades of senseless Middle East wars. On this one, Trump is right!”

But a letter addressed to Mr. Trump signed by six Republican lawmakers urged him to pull back on the decision. The letter stated it’s a “premature and costly mistake” that threatens U.S. security and emboldens ISIS, Basharal Assad, Iran, and Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters in Moscow that Mr. Trump was correct in his decision. “On this, Donald is right. I agree with him,” Mr. Putin said of Trump’s claim that ISIS has been defeated in Syria, where Russian troops have supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

A CNN report quoted sources that a similar announcement may come soon pulling out the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan— America’s longest running war. Members of Trump’s administration and lawmakers complained the Syrian withdrawal was an independent move.

Observers say the decision indicates an erratic leadership style that’s effecting America internationally.

An empire in decline

America is falling and 2018 showed a decline of its prestige on the world stage. An October Global Trends survey of 25 nations released by the Pew Research Center said the United States’ global image is at a low and Mr. Trump’s international image remains poor.

The poll summary said international publics expressed concerns about America’s role in world affairs. Large majorities say the U.S. doesn’t consider the interests of other countries in foreign policy decisions. Many believe the U.S. is doing less to help solve major global challenges than it used to. “U.S. foreign policy is that of an empire in decline,” said Mr. Anderson.

He pointed out indicators are growing including economic wars, a failing Middle East policy and a mounting corruption case against Mr. Trump that has international implications.

Other analysts said U.S. foreign policy is marred by actions of Mr. Trump resulting in alienation of America. The president has exerted a nationalistic “America first” policy that strained relations with historical allies, caused loss of friendship and defined the U.S. world view as insular, not global.

“What America First means is the United States should not be constrained by international law and precedent,” said Bill Fletcher Jr., a labor and human rights activist.

He said the reality is the U.S. is not constrained for the most part. But, sometimes has to act carefully because of alliances. “What Trump has introduced is to basically throw all of that up in the air,” said Mr. Fletcher.

With Mr. Trump the world is seeing the “essence of the United States” for what it is, which was an image it has carefully concealed, he said.

Some analysts see the “America First” worldview as isolationist, but others said it’s just another name for U.S. antagonism.

“I wouldn’t call it an isolationist position,” Medea Benjamin told The Final Call. “I call it an adversarial position that the U.S. in many cases is trying to impose on the rest of the world.

“It’s not like, the U.S. is putting its head in the sand and ignoring the rest of the world as isolationist would imply. But the U.S. is trying to tell the rest of the world how to run its own affairs,” added Ms. Benjamin.

A range of issues dominated attention in 2018, like ongoing Israeli/ Palestinian conflict, the U.S. backed war in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia and the uptick in hostilities towards Iran replete with an active destabilization campaign and threat of war.

The decline of America and these volatile policies must also be understood along the lines of divine providence, according to Minister Louis Farrakhan, National Representative of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

“My teacher, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, taught me years ago that the policies of our government would bring about a war in the Middle East that would be a trigger to the greatest war that has ever been, the War of Armageddon,” said the Minister, during a Nov. 8 press conference in Tehran.

Minster Farrakhan said the world is experiencing a time of a “lull before the storm” and warned Mr. Trump to delay the storm as long as possible. “Because the longer the storm is delayed, it’s to not only America’s advantage, but it is to the advantage of the world.” He said the sanctions on Iran are the predicate for a new war.

Dr. Kevin Barrett of Veterans Today said in the international arena there is manifest loss to America. “The U.S. Middle East policy right now is very unstable, and the U.S. is losing influence in that region as well as elsewhere as the empire is getting very shaky,” Dr. Barrett said.

A bill introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) earlier in the year—Senate Joint Resolution 54—to end the U.S. military involvement in Yemen—passed in the Senate Dec. 13. There has been pressure to end American support of Saudi Arabia that is leading a coalition at war in the small country of Yemen. Saudi Arabia is using American weapons to bomb Yemen which experts warned is the worst humanitarian crisis in recent history. The war has killed tens of thousands of people, spread cholera and caused acute famine.

The vote is widely seen as the pushback to Trump administration reluctance to reign in Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman after the assassination of Saudi national and Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Both countries are embroiled in controversy with critics since the early October murder.

“The killing of Khashoggi ironically raised the question of Yemen,” among the lawmakers, added Mr. Fletcher, who predicts Yemen will be more of a priority in 2019.

U.S. military and money

“At the end of the day the one thing that the United States is not about is peace. The United States is about war ... that’s where the money is being made,” said Dr. Wilmer Leon, a political scientist at Howard University in a Final Call interview.

A report issued in September 2018 called “War Profiteers: The U.S. War Machine and the Arming of Repressive Regimes” said the military-industrial complex fuels endless wars for profit. It showed how Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics—the largest U.S. weapons makers have large contracts with repressive allies, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Egypt.

2018 also witnessed increased riffs between America and the Peoples Republic of China. Analysts say that the economic friction that transpired over trade tariffs is actually part of a military competition.

“China is now the move … now the enemy,” said Dr. Leon. “This whole issue about sanctions and trade on China; it’s not about trade, it’s about China’s military.”

Overall, U.S. foreign policy objectives is the control of resources and obtaining wealth and 2018 didn’t change that. “It’s the profiteering off of death and destruction,” said Ms. Benjamin who co-authored the War Profiteers report.