Geopolitics: Trump Will Fall In Line
During his presidential campaign Donald Trump stole from the libertarian playbook by lamenting the US's status as an international police force. Under Trump, there would be no more needless wars and military intervention. Americans were going to start minding their own business again. Fast forward to April of 2017, Donald Trump's tone is changing. But why?
The US establishment's geopolitical strategy to reform and neutralize the Middle East has been ongoing since the first Bush Administration. If you thought they would let Donald Trump throw a wrench into their gears, you were wrong. It serves America's national security and global interests to disarm the unfriendly Islamic powers in the Middle East, and the arguments in favour of keeping the status quo intact are convincing. There's also a lot more to it than that, which is why the foreign policies of both Democrats and Republicans have been essentially identical over the past forty years.
Under the Obama Administration, the tactics were different but the goals were the same. We saw the collapse of Libya, a strong stance on Syria and the rise of ISIS—which has been a threat on the global stage but has also been a huge destabilizing force in Syria against the Assad regime. Assad's regime has faced an internal rebellion as well as an invasion by ISIS. This serves the overall US geopolitical strategy in the region with the appearance of less US meddling.
General Wesley Clark outlined the geopolitical strategy in 2013 with Democracy Now. He talked about his conversations with Bush officials after 9/11, including Donald Rumsfeld and a particular General:
“So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, 'Are we still going to war with Iraq?' And he said, 'Oh, it's worse than that. He said—he reached over on his desk, he picked up a piece of paper—and he said, 'I just got this down from upstairs.' Meaning the Secretary Of Defense's office. And he said, 'This is a memo that describes how we're going to take out seven countries in five years.' Starting with Iraq and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finishing off with Iran.”
You can watch that piece of his interview here. Of course, Bush's geopolitical strategy has hit some snags and failed to play out successfully on a five year timeline, but the overall strategy is still in effect.
The arguments in favour of this geopolitical strategy often involve oil. Although oil plays a huge factor, it's not just about the US wanting to control oil reserves, oil production and its own dollar. It's also about preventing unfriendly Islamic nations from controlling oil markets and using the wealth to build their military strength and to exercise their influence in the region.
When Trump entered office, his intentions may have been to improve relations with Russia and to stay as far from conflict as possible, but the latest chemical attack in Syria has changed his mind. At a press conference with Jordanian king, Abdullah II, Trump stated that the chemical attack “crossed more than a red line” with him and that his opinion has changed.
The latest chemical attack is not the first, but it has gained more international media coverage than past chemical attacks. Public outrage is at a much higher pitch than it was following three other chemical attacks in Syria under the Obama Administration. Public pressure always ends up influencing foreign policy to some degree. That public pressure and constant media coverage has gotten to Trump. Not only does Donald Trump have establishment Generals whispering in his ear, he also watches the news.
Why Russia Is An Enemy Again
Mitt Romney famously called Russia a geopolitical threat in a debate with Barack Obama in 2012. Russian relations started to deteriorate near the later years of the second Bush Administration, but have gotten significantly worse over the past eight years. When Obama mocked Romney for his comments, he was doing so for political reasons. It's likely that Obama was fully aware of the threat Russia posed, but knew—at the time—that public perception wasn't anti-Russian like it is today. It was nothing more than an opportunity to make Romney look foolish in front of a naive electorate.
After the Berlin Wall came down, Russian-US relations weren't so bad anymore and they stayed somewhat stable during and after the Reagan Administration. So what happened? Why has Vlad Putin become public enemy number one?
Aside from Russia's slow slide back into dictatorship, Putin has begun his own plan to turn Russia back into a global superpower. How he has been trying to accomplish this is subtle, but brilliant. Most people don't understand the bigger picture but, when they finally do, Putin's strategy becomes crystal clear.
To start, Putin has been Assad's biggest ally. Some could even argue that Syria would have been dealt with years ago had it not been for Putin. Russia has aided Assad's regime in the fight against rebel forces and ISIS to block America's longstanding geopolitical strategy. Putin is blocking the advancement of America's geopolitical strategy to protect his own interests as well as to slow the growth of American hegemony.
To fulfill his own geopolitical strategy, Putin took Crimea in 2014. He knew full well that the US wouldn't be able to do anything about it. Not militarily, anyway. However, it's likely that Putin foresaw the eventual collapse of global oil prices—which began happening conveniently after the annexation of Crimea and the rise of ISIS. To be clear, the collapse in global oil prices was no accident. The over-production and flooding of the oil market is the result of both US and Saudi Arabian production—which has drastically increased since late 2014.
As a result of the global oil collapse, Russia's economy has been crippled along with other economies. Putin—being the ultimate chess master—hasn't let the collapse go to waste.
In March of 2015, Putin went to Kazakhstan to talk about a new regional currency. What was his argument in favour of a new regional currency that would circumvent the US dollar? The collapse in oil prices and the crash of the Russian ruble. Both Belarus and Kazakhstan have suffered under the collapse and were “luke warm” to the idea of a regional currency prior to the collapse. Both Belarus and Kazakhstan were involved with the discussion in Astana.
Iran has also been impacted by the collapse in oil prices, so it's only fitting for Putin to move his chess pieces to their appropriate positions. Since the collapse, Iran has expressed interest in joining the Eurasian Economic Union and—in May of 2015—the EEU began the process of signing a free trade deal with Iran. In December of last year, a deal was getting closer. What is the EEU? It's an economic union that went into effect in January 2015 between Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Russia.
China has also been developing a separate world banking institution from the World Bank and IMF called the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Last year, Russia jumped on board. The US, for obvious reasons, has been opposed to the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, or AIIB.
So why does this matter? Because the US has been maintaining the base value of its own dollar by “forcing” countries to buy and sell oil in US dollars. This also acts to ensure that the USD remains the world's reserve currency. Although prices have dropped, global demand for oil is always steadily increasing. The current collapse in oil prices was caused by the United States and Saudi Arabia increasing global supplies beyond demand. The United States and Saudi Arabia have maintained control of the global oil market since the Nixon Administration and the beginning of the US-Saudi Arabian Joint Commission On Economic Cooperation.
What happens when leaders attempt to create new currencies or to trade their oil in other currencies? Just ask Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi. Both oil-rich leaders tried to accomplish independence from the USD before they were removed. Both China and Russia are immune to the same kinds of factors that led to the removal of Hussein and Gaddafi.
Less than a year into his administration, it's likely that Donald Trump has become aware of the big picture. Therefore, we shouldn't expect a friendship with Russia unless Putin backs off. If Trump really loves America as much as he says he does, he won't be able to let Putin accomplish his goals. American prosperity has become intricately intertwined with foreign policy and this ongoing geopolitical strategy. With a $20T national debt, US economic stability is extremely fragile and there aren't a lot of options.