Since the Korean war, the USA could not pass a reasonable long time without at least one enemy, if not more, around the globe. It constantly finds a foe on the horizon. They can find or discover an adversary when needed and notably, they need it always! No need to give chronological examples to readers. And in Washington’s lens, it is always the adversary´s fault. Because the USA is guided by “Altruism” and a “Devine Responsibility”! They did not do anything wrong in Korea, Vietnam, Chile, the Middle East, or anywhere else. Mosaddeq needed to be toppled, Allende had to be removed, Cuba had to be crippled, the Palestinians legitimate rights needed to be compromised. But the reality is too serious to be shelved by such sarcastic remarks.
Professor Dominic Tierney, a renowned political scientist and senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Research Institute has explained the psyche of the US warmongers who look for and find out external foes and a “core reason” behind it. He drew an analogical reference to the ancient Roman time when the republic descended into internal strife because of the destruction of its enemy, Carthage in the Third Punic War. When the external enemy disappeared, the Romans turned their knives inward. This psyche works still today. When internal strife creates chaos, in-fights and dangerous divisions among the people, an external enemy can divert the attention and may rescue them from such in-fights. Dominic Tierney showed that it happened during the US independence movement in the 18th century, the Civil War period in the 19th century, and at the time of most of the US’S military or strategic involvements abroad. During the independence struggle, the British colonial power was the common enemy and common unifying factor of the American people. One might raise the question of how the Civil War could be described as an external threat. Dominic rightly answered “By definition, the Civil War was an internal threat. But the Confederacy was also a de facto foreign state, which raised armies, issued its currency, and wrote its constitution.”
An external enemy may bolster the image of an otherwise unpopular leader and unite the people behind him. When Bush Junior´s image went down to rock-bottom, the Iraq War sky-rocketed his popularity. It took quite a long time for the US people to understand that it was a manufactured war and at the same time, they had to pay a high price for it. Before that, the 9/11 attack brought the opportunity for George W. Bush to lodge an all-out war against an external enemy and mobilize the American people exploiting the mentality of xenophobic zeal. It secured his second term in the White House. The American people gradually realized that in the beginning, the American government itself was involved in the creation/patronizations of the “Taliban” to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan.
There is no dearth of foes of America. Radical Islam, drug trade, communism, “expansionism” of newly emerged dictatorial powers, what not? Above all, the US has its vital interest in every corner of the globe! In this regard, Ira Chernus, former professor emeritus at the University of Colorado quoted former Security Adviser of President Trump Retd General Michael Flynn who listed the network of enemies “that extends from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua …” and there are also “al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, ISIS, and countless other terrorist groups.” Americans are very innovative in so-called security questions. He rightly pointed out, they “need something to fight for … and they find someone to fight against.”
No doubt, the USA achieved some astonishing technical and scientific advancements in the field of space expeditions, biological science, etc. But human psychology is very peculiar. A nation feels pride when its astronauts land on the moon. But people become more united when they fight a foreign enemy, perceived or real. However, rulers of many other countries have played and are still playing the same trick.
But the USA finds an external enemy not only to divert its own people’s in-fights or bolster the image of an unpopular president but at the same time also to materialize its ill designs and ulterior motives of economic, military, and political dominance. If one analyzes the US role, invasions, and interferences in Indochina, South Asia, the Middle East, Latin America it will be clear to one. History testifies, their interference and invasions were unjust and unwarranted in most cases. Those were done just to serve their illegitimate interests. The war industry i.e., the military-industrial complex is very powerful in the USA. They need wars and conflicts to produce and export arms.
The USA has now concentrated its aggressive focus on Russia and P.R. China. When Moscow says Ukraine should not be a member of NATO and this US-led organization must not have a base or military presence in Ukraine, Washington instantly rejects it and says that these are none of its business. What a double standard if one remembers the US position during the Cuban crisis of 1962! At that time the USSR was asked to withdraw its missile from Cuba without any delay! As if Cuba was not a sovereign state! An imminent nuclear war could be avoided between these two countries when both Kennedy and Khrushchev understood the apocalyptical outcome. Cuba is 90 miles off the US mainland whereas Ukraine has a contiguous physical border with Russia. 1962 Cuban crisis started under the background of the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion by the Cuban dissidents who tried to overthrow Fidel Castro with US support. The invasion was thwarted. A solution to the Ukrainian crisis can be achieved based on the steps that were taken to solve the aforesaid Cuban crisis. The USSR had to withdraw its missiles from Cuba. But the USA had to promise that it would not attack Cuba in the future. The anxiety for the USA is that the USSR could be dismantled. But Russia is reemerging from the ruins. Hence the rising threats must be checked. Excepting the UK, other important European powers are not that enthusiastic to form an uncompromising united front led by the USA against Russia. They have different calculations. Germany, France, Turkey – 3 very important members of NATO, have economic, military, and historical reasons to be cautious though US pressure on them is relentless.
Now it is P. R. China that tops the US´s adversary list. Most of their propaganda is being carried out against Beijing. All pro-American Think Tanks all over the world have joined them. China must be contained to maintain US military and economic supremacy around the globe. No doubt, most of China´s neighbors around the South China Sea have maritime disputes with her, and their suspicion cannot be put aside. China´s maritime rights must not encroach on internationally recognized maritime rights of Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other bordering countries. PR China´s outside adversaries will take advantage of the situation. The USA is exactly doing the same. They are opposed to China´s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – both the Maritime route and the Land route. They want to limit Beijing´s colossal infrastructure plan to curb/slow down its global trade and business. At the same time, they want to contain Beijing militarily. And it is the reason why the AUKUS and the QUAD have been established. In the past the USA and Western-led organizations like World Bank, IMF lent billions of dollars as loans to developing countries for which they had to pay high interest. When China offers loans to needy countries, the West and its allies discover a loan trap. The management of a Sri Lankan port has been taken over by China since the Lankan Port Authority cannot manage it properly and repay the Chinese loan. The West has made it a propaganda issue misinterpreting the facts. The USA criticizes P. R. China because it is run by an “autocratic” government. One may question if countries like Saudi Arabia are governed by democratic rulers for which Washington is lending unconditional support to them? The USA is very vocal about Beijing´s repression of the Uyghur´s Muslim people. But what is the role of Washington in the Middle East? Who ruined Iraq? On who’s patronage and active support Israel is carrying out an apartheid policy on Palestinian people? The main reason for US opposition to China is Beijing´s growing power and influence in the world. They cannot surrender their supremacy to China without an all-out fight. No dominant power did it in the past. The problem is, according to an article published in The Economist, China has already surpassed the USA as the biggest economy in the world by at least one measure. In addition, China is closing the gap in the technology and armaments sectors. Beijing-Moscow co-operation has made Washington more desperate. If the emergence of P. R. China as the most dominant power will be better for the world is a separate question that needs to be scrutinized.
Anisur Rahman is a senior Bangladeshi journalist now living in Sweden.