“Extending American Power” – A Sneak Peek at What a Clinton Foreign Policy May Look Like

(Extending American Power: http://www.cnas.org/extending-American-power#.V2SMFLt0eUk)

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a think tank connected to the Democratic Party, particularly with Obama’s transition team at the beginning of his first term, published a 20-page policy paper last month called “Extending American Power.”


That this think tank is already close to the Democratic Party establishment is not the only salient fact in relation to this policy paper.  It is also relevant that this paper was signed off on, with an introduction co-authored by, Robert Kagan.  For those who may need a refresher, Kagan is the philosophical standard bearer of Neoconservative thought in western corporate media (New Republic and The Washington Post) as well as co-founder of Project for a New American Century (PNAC) which pushed for the invasion of Iraq in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.  Kagan believes that the U.S. has a right and duty to be the policeman of the world and to expend whatever resources are necessary to do so under the guise of spreading (imposing) Washington’s definition of democracy by manipulation and force.  It is imperialism with a more palatable cover, using terms like human rights and democracy to get average Americans to swallow it.  Despite the fact that these democracy-spreading regime change attempts have produced death, chaos and blowback wherever they’ve been tried, such as Iraq, Kagan continues to advocate them with only the minor cosmetic change of now calling himself a “liberal interventionist” rather than a Neocon.  It should also be noted that Kagan is married to Victoria Nuland, who, in her job as Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, played a leading role in the 2014 coup in Ukraine.


The Neocons have now successfully inserted themselves into the Democratic Party where they’ve often teamed up opportunistically with the resident hawks there, such as Zbigniew Brzezinski and his protégé, Madeline Albright.  Indeed, Albright served on the Board of Directors of CNAS only a few years ago.


The policy paper is therefore what one would likely expect from the Neocon godfather who has endorsed Hillary Clinton explicitly for her Neocon foreign policy.  In 2014, Kagan said the following to the New York Times:


“I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy. If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.”


In the paper’s introduction, the authors express their desire to influence a new presidential administration directly: “…with a mandate to examine the degree to which the United States can and should play a leadership role internationally, and with an eye toward policymaking in a new administration.”

The paper sets up its analysis of each of the three geographic areas of the world that it considers to be of critical importance, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, with a distorted history in which America’s policies are noble and successful.


For example, with respect to Asia, the authors state:  “U.S. leadership has been indispensable in ensuring a stable balance of power in Asia the past 70 years.”


Suffice it to say, the people of Vietnam, Cambodia, East Timor and North Korea might beg to differ with this account.


Moving on to the Middle East, the U.S.-created disasters in Iraq and Libya barely get a mention and only in passing when speaking of ISIS.  The origins of ISIS – from the chaos of the Iraq invasion and its aftermath is omitted.


Instead, we get an explanation of ISIS only as being the fault of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad whose “brutal repression of Syria’s majority Sunni population that has created both the massive exodus and the increase in support for jihadist groups like ISIS.”


In addition to this false narrative of the relationship between ISIS and Assad, regime change in Syria is still called for:  “Any such political solution [in Syria] must include the departure of Al-Assad.”  For all the platitudes about democracy, the Syrian people are not to be consulted about this proclamation from Washington.


Furthermore, the authors call for a no-fly zone.  This, despite the fact that American military leaders have acknowledged that such a policy would be a humanitarian disaster and that it would put the U.S. toe to toe against the world’s other nuclear superpower.  Russia currently has the S400 system in place in Syria, effectively creating its own de facto no-fly zone.


None of this has stopped 50 employees in the State Department (the department of diplomacy) from expressing their opposition to president Obama’s demurrer at going all in militarily in Syria as the WSJ reported last week, speculating that this is designed to grease the skids for what the Neocon/Liberal Interventionist-infested State Department hopes will be a more hawkish occupant in the White House in January 2017:


The internal cable may be an attempt to shape the foreign policy outlook for the next administration, the official familiar with the document said. President Barack Obama has balked at taking military action against Mr. Assad, while the Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton has promised a more hawkish stance against the Syrian leader. Republican candidate Donald Trump has said he would hit Islamic State hard but has also said he would be prepared to work with Russia and Syria.


Secretary of State, John Kerry, is reportedly in solidarity with this position.  This should put to rest any notions that have been bandied about that Kerry is a force for restraint in our foreign policy as his reckless and shrill comments back in 2013 evidence.   Interesting insight into this is provided by Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, who attended a meeting recently with Obama in which Kerry was present.  When the discussion turned to Syria, Kerry made it clear through his body language and gestures that he disagreed with Obama’s more moderate approach to Syria, according to Wilkerson.


Adding to these reckless calls, Michele Flournoy, who is associated with CNAS and is rumored to be on the short list for consideration as Secretary of Defense in a Hillary Clinton administration, advocated regime change and sending U.S. forces into Syria to push Assad’s forces out of southern Syria in a recent interview with Defense One magazine.


The Russian presence in Syria is, of course, characterized as pernicious in the CNAS report as well as in the aforementioned State Department memo, even though Russia is the only foreign actor operating legally in Syria at the request of the recognized government in Damascus.  A no-fly zone implemented in Syria by the U.S., on the other hand, would violate international law.


Speaking of international law, one of the themes throughout the paper is that the U.S.’s leadership in the world is justified, in part, to uphold “a stable rules-based international order.”  Again, Washington’s illegal aggressions, such as the invasion of Iraq and the bombing of numerous other countries, go unmentioned.


Aggression is the operative term, however, for Russia in this report:  at one point, the authors praise German Chancellor Angela Merkel for holding together the sanctions “in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”


Perhaps this is a reference to those numerous invasions of Ukraine we all heard about from NATO leaders in 2014; those times when the Russian military invaded, then retreated, then invaded again – just to be weird (hey, they’re Russian); numerous invasions that the OSCE always managed to miss when they were monitoring the border.


Weapons transfers to the Kiev regime under the guise of defense are a possibility as the authors state:  “The United States must provide Ukrainian armed forces with the training and equipment necessary to resist Russian-backed forces and Russian forces operating on Ukrainian territory.”


Of course, any military “equipment” or weapons could be just as easily put to offensive use as defensive (to “resist”).  It is telling that the Minsk agreement is not mentioned once, as though it doesn’t even exist – like so many other inconvenient facts for the authors of this report.


Unsubstantiated assertions that Russia is a threat to the Baltic nations are trotted out to justify more of the current provocative actions by NATO: “The Baltics in particular are vulnerable to both direct attack and the more complicated “hybrid” warfare [never defined] that Russia has displayed in Ukraine.”


The solution, according to the authors, is more of the same sort of policies that have contributed to current tensions – the most dangerous in decades:  “…establish a more robust U.S. force presence in appropriate central and eastern European countries, which should include a mix of permanently stationed forces, rotationally deployed forces, prepositioned equipment, access arrangements and a more robust schedule of military training and exercises.”


As Russia expert Stephen F. Cohen pointed out in a recent interview with John Batchelor, unlike the first Cold War, which had military dividing lines between NATO and the Soviet Union in Berlin, the current military lines are right on Russia’s borders – just kilometers away from St. Petersburg.  NATO, controlled by Washington, is recklessly backing Russia into a corner with nowhere to retreat to.


To continue facilitating this grand strategy of American power and indispensability to the entire globe, the authors propose even more spending on the military and national security state:  “An urgent first step is to significantly increase U.S. national security and defense spending and eliminate the budgetary straitjacket of the Budget Control Act.”


Military spending is already 54% of our discretionary budget, totaling $598 billion.* (This does not include the separate “Overseas Contingency Operations” budget worth another $64 billion or the “black budget” estimated at an additional $52 billion for classified operations). This would make it more than during the first Cold War when the U.S. was taking on a much larger “enemy” with a bigger military and an official policy of supporting communist revolution.  But, somehow, now, when we spend 8 times more than Russia and have over 700 hundred military bases around the globe, the still-largest economy (except for perhaps China), we need to spend even more to take on a couple of “regional powers” and relatively low-tech terrorists.  Really?


The American people in general do not seem to buy into this premise as reflected in a poll released in March of this year, showing that the majority of Democrats and independents supported cutting the military budget by $20 billion – $36 billion, while half of Republicans supported significant cuts.


It might be instructive at this point to look into who the major funders are of this illustrious establishment think tank.  The list is available here.  Unsurprisingly, one will find defense contractors, along with the fossil fuel industry, comprise the majority.


It’s disconcerting to know that the fate of the world may rest in the hands of those beholden to a combination of die-hard ideologues and war profiteers.



*Figures are for 2015


5 thoughts on ““Extending American Power” – A Sneak Peek at What a Clinton Foreign Policy May Look Like”

  1. Thank you for this well considered report, Natylie. It becomes part of the many warnings We Americans are receiving regarding these “corporate empire” issues.

    You shared: “The Baltics in particular are vulnerable to both direct attack and the more complicated “hybrid” warfare [never defined] that Russia has displayed in Ukraine.”

    It would be my guess, that “hybrid warfare” is a term that designates the use of fifth columns in the Baltic States and elsewhere, to achieve Russian Goals. A “fifth column” being the inhabitants of a Baltic State that would welcome and be supportive of membership in the Russian Federation…as opposed to European Membership. These often have been mistreated by some of the inhabitants that want to be part of Europe.

    Personally, I would like for the principle of Honest Majority Rule (as in Strong Democracy) to be respected by the opponents in these Nation matters. Then the Minorities would have the choice of Peaceful coexistence with their fellow countryfolks, or immigrate to the region of their choice…provided that it is ok with the chosen region, for them to come.

    1. Hi Daniel. Thanks for stopping by. I think you are mostly correct about what the definition of “hybrid warfare” would likely be, it’s just that there doesn’t seem to be any actual evidence of it. It’s my opinion that that is why it is left undefined in the report so as to make the uninformed reader take it for granted rather than break it down and determine if the charge has any validity to it.

  2. Hi Natylie. I haven’t heard of any “hybrid warfare” in the Baltic States. There is no actual fighting there.

    But, it seems to be a different story in the Ukraine. There are Ukrainians and Russians fighting Euro oriented Ukrainians there. But this seems to be a little different than an act of “hybrid warfare”. Its more like a civil war with backers. A fairly clear division has been made. Fifth column activity is more a prelude to actual invasion by invested outsiders…who provide support to the “fifth column” without actually entering the fray.

    But I think you are right about the reason why the media didn’t define the term “hybrid warfare”. That is an interesting propaganda trick that I wasn’t aware of until now. Thank you for bringing this “to light”.

    To tell you the Truth, I am not really certain that the definition of “hybrid warfare” is what I have thought it might be. For some reason I thought of “surrogate” when I read the word “hybrid”…as in letting others do the actual fighting. Strategic goals achieved without actually going into battle directly.

    I better do some research about the term, before I “lock on to” this definition. Ill be back. Thank you for the communication.

  3. “The Baltics in particular are vulnerable to both direct attack and the more complicated “hybrid” warfare [never defined] that Russia has displayed in Ukraine.”

    Ok. Whatever “hybrid warfare” means, it does seem to have something to do with what the Russians have done in the Ukraine. It is not “direct attack”, but a “more complicated” effort.

    So, I have to ask: What is the more complicated effort that Russia did in the Ukraine?

    The answer to that probably has to do with the support of ethnic Russians that have definitely decided that they do not want to be part of the fascist style Ukrainian regime that wants to be part of Europe and NATO. These are Ukrainians that are still loyal to Mother Russia…because they ARE Russian. They came to the Ukraine way back when and have become mixed (hybridized) with older ethnic Ukrainians(?) But there is enough division in social identity (perhaps brought about by internecine ideological struggles) that it is very difficult to co-exist Peacefully. So, I am back to thinking that “hybrid warfare” is the fighting that is done by transplanted (colonies?) to maintain old ties to a source culture. In this case Mother Russia.

    The cultural form for the fascist Ukrainians is not so much ethnic, as ideological; as in fascism. So, here I see an ethnic cultural form in contention with an ideological cultural form.

    Just thinking out loud here.

    1. Interesting thoughts, Daniel. From what I’ve heard from people who bandy the term “hybrid warfare” about in the context of Russia and the Baltic states is that Russia is trying to gin up discontent of the ethnic Russian minority in these countries in order to destabilize them. To the extent that Russia may have made any meaningful attempts to do this (and I’ve seen no evidence that they have, but let’s say they have for the sake of argument), I see no indication that it’s gotten much traction. My understanding is that the ethnic Russians in these countries would rather just be allowed to vote and speak their language while going about their everyday lives. They are not interested in a rebellion or provocative activities. If they are really unhappy, they will try to emigrate as significant numbers in general have done from the Baltics due to poor economic prospects.

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