Paradigm for peace applied to Russia, Ukraine, and the US: Proposal for a peaceful pathway forward – Part 4R. The nature of a “US-led rules-based order”

Part 4. Mental escalators of violence in US policy and media makers- Part 4R. The nature of a “US-led rules-based order”

False Bias #18. Russia Is at Fault for Overturning the “US-Led Rules-Based Order,” Which Is a Benign, Just, Egalitarian, Democratic, Cooperative, and Peaceful Order to Spread Positive Political, Economic, and Cultural Values. The previous essay referred to the January 29, 2019 testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee for the Senate Hearing of the National Defense Strategy given by Damon Wilson, at the time executive vice-president of the pro-NATO Atlantic Council, and currently the President of the National Endowment for “Democracy” (NED) an organization that supposedly promotes democracy abroad.

In his testimony, this future NED president claimed: “Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is determined to roll back the post-Cold War settlement, undermine the sovereignty of former Soviet states, and overturn the US-led rules-based order that has kept Western Europe secure since the end of WWII and enlarged to countries of Central and Eastern Europe after 1989.”

The previous essay addressed the segment of Wilson’s claim regarding the alleged “rolling back of the post-Cold War settlement.” This essay will evaluate the segment that claims that Putin is determined to “overturn the US-led rules-based order.” A special focus will be given to the nature of this order, for, whether or not Putin seeks to overturn it, it’s important to determine whether any nation should be supporting it at all.

It’s confusing to determine whether Wilson means that the US-led rules-based order is a part of the post-Cold War settlement that Russia allegedly violated or if it’s something separate to which he nonetheless expects Russia to support. If Wilson is implying that Russia legally agreed to support this order, it would be interesting to learn precisely which parts of which agreements that Russia has signed indicate that Russia has violated and overturned some US-led rules-based order.

On the other hand, if this order was not part of any post-Cold War or other settlement, then it’s not apparent why Wilson is complaining about Russia’s alleged failure to observe a US-led rules-based order. Who actually has agreed to this order anyway? Have Italy and France agreed, for example? And did those who agree accurately represent their nations’ populations in making this agreement? Or did they agree despite popular protests? Were they bribed or intimidated into agreeing?

Have the UN and International Criminal Court also agreed to bow down to this US-led rules-based order? Is this order a part of international law? Upon what legal basis is the US leading a rules-based order in Europe?

With regard to the nature of this order, I cannot describe it definitively, but this essay will gather clues as to its likely nature from the works of Thomas Barnett, Michael Mandelbaum, and the current and past actions of US foreign policy.

I first heard mention of a “rules-based order” in Thomas Barnett’s The Pentagon’s New Map (2004), in which Barnett argues that the US should be globalizing the whole world, forcing the world to obey a rules-based order led by the “Functioning Core Nations,” and using the military, if need be, to fight along the borders between those nations that have globalized and those that have not. The goal is to impose this globalized culture and the rules of the “Functioning Core Nations”—the globalized, upon the “Non-Integrated Gap”—the non-globalized, in order to integrate everybody together homogeneously like a giant beehive.[1]

What makes Barnett’s book important to take seriously is that apparently the book has been popular in the Pentagon. According to Barnett, who seems to perceive the entire scheme of imposed globalization as benevolent, if we force globalization upon everyone and kill off those who resist, then we can finally all live in peace.[2] It’s basically a re-run of the illogic and inhumanity that drove the US to destroy tribe after tribe as it expanded across the North America continent from east to west.

It’s not clear whether Wilson’s “US-led rules-based order” is the same exact thing as Barnett’s, but it’s a good guess that it’s at least partially overlapping if not identical. Barnett’s book revolves around the idea that there’s one set of rules, the “Core Nations’ rules-set,” to which the rest of the world must be assimilated, by force if necessary.[3] Unlike democratic rule-making, in which the rule-makers are supposed to govern as representatives of the governed and with the consent of the governed, the Core Nations’ rule-set is made by policymakers who neither represent nor are endorsed by those in other nations who are expected, nonetheless, to obediently follow these rules. In fact, even the populations within the Core Nations have no say in the matter.

The very idea of having a US-led rules-based order and the very assumption that there should be one set of rules that all good people follow with unquestioning obedience are telltale characteristics of a particular model of human relations described by George Lakoff in his work, Moral Politics, a topic introduced in the previous essay Part 4B. Lakoff describes two contrasting models of morality and human relations: the Strict Father Model and the Nurturant Parent Model. According to the morality of those who adhere—often without awareness—to the Strict Father Model, relationships should be hierarchical, and the individual or nation on top should be making rules for everyone else to follow with unquestioning obedience. To question authority—such as a US-led rules-based order—is considered immoral.[4]

To the individuals in those social circles who adhere to the Strict Father Model, such ideas seem absolutely moral and proper. But to those of us coming from other social circles and ways of relating to one another, such as the Nurturant Parent Model also described by Lakoff, such authoritarian rule-making ideas are repulsive, arrogant, unkind, immoral, and grounded in supreme ignorance and illogic. Passing strange that US policymakers should imply that Putin is authoritarian for resisting such an authoritarian order! Passing strange that US policymakers, who’ve scorned the centralized economic system of the USSR for decades, should advocate such a centralized system of rule-making, values formation, and culture shaping.

Many strict mothers also exist, and so I’ll refer to the models without using the word “father” in order not to promote harmful gender stereotypes. Another feature of this Strict Model is not only an acceptance of hierarchy but the belief that an individual’s or nation’s greater power typically corresponds to greater wealth and even to a superior sense of morality.[5] Therefore, according to this unfounded logic, those with great wealth ought to have great power to make the rules because they’re morally superior to the rest of us down here in the slime.

While many of us have good reason as well as knowledge acquired from experience to suspect that illegal or immoral circumstances may have enabled some to acquire their bounty of power and wealth, perhaps some or many of these wealthy, powerful people ruling the US are Strict model morality adherents who feel that their wealth and power are proof—not of criminality, callousness, or unscrupulousness—but of their superior morality and intellect. With such a flattering self-image, they may honestly believe that it’s best for all of us if they lead us—the ignorant masses, and it’s only a natural extension to wish to lead, not only the American masses, but the masses of the world in this US-led rules-based order.

Incidentally, this belief that a certain upper class is doing us all a favor by ruling our society was also a feature of the upper German and American classes running policy prior to WWII, when US policymakers and businessmen were loath to cut their ties with German businessmen, policymakers, and the war machine they were building, and after WWII, when US policymakers were loath to punish those who collaborated with the work-to-death labor camps. Why? It was felt that these social circles—those at the peak of the hierarchy of capitalism’s wealth and power, were necessary for society to function properly.[6]

Belief in the morality of the Strict Model also helps explain why wealthy and powerful nations feel, oddly enough, that it’s their moral right to have greater decision-making authority over other nations, as evidenced by the identities of the permanent members of the UN Security Council. It explains why, in US negotiations with other nations, US negotiators feel it’s their right and duty to have superior power, to set the agenda, to tell the other nation how it should be behaving, and to set a system of rewards and punishments to make the other nation behave.

Note that a significant feature of the Strict Model is a belief in relying upon rewards and punishments as the primary means of influencing others’ behavior, whether as children in the home, students in class, or nations in negotiation. I’m sure you’ve observed that this system of rewards and punishments—typically bribes, loan offers, threats, and economic, political, and physical punishment in the form of coups and wars—is the primary way in which US policymakers relate to other nations. It’s an unevolved, primitive form of human relations.

The opposite of the Strict Model is what Lakoff describes as the Nurturant Model, a model which prioritizes understanding rather than authority, egalitarianism rather than hierarchy, questioning the rules rather than unquestioning obedience, exchanging perspectives rather than imposing one perspective, and the ability to influence others through mutual caring, understanding, and role modeling rather than rewards and punishments.[7] For those of us naturally inclined to the Nurturant Model, the Strict Model is repulsive.

I must emphasize again the irony and hypocrisy of US policymakers who insist they’re battling against Putin’s alleged authoritarianism while denying the enormous, blatant, and fundamental authoritarianism in themselves as they pursue actions in support of a hierarchy of power and wealth over others. As Strict Model adherents, they can’t see it in themselves, for it’s not authoritarianism that they oppose, it’s the disobedience of others who, they believe, belong beneath them in the hierarchy. Their own authority just seems so natural, right, and always good-intentioned, like blue skies and sunshine. Anyone who opposes their authority must be evil. But to foreign nations and to Nurturant Model adherents worldwide, US authoritarian actions and ambitions are egregiously obvious and offensive. This same combination of arrogance, ignorance, and authoritarianism is replicated within homes in which one or both parents think they know what’s right but never listen to their children’s point of view and, consequently, trample their children’s identity, goals, and potential and damage their relationship with their children.

How dare US policymakers accuse Russia of authoritarianism when people like Damon Wilson are insisting that Russia has misbehaved for not following a “US-led rules-based order”! Never once in Barnett’s book is there a suggestion that the decision about whether or not to globalize should be decided democratically within nations and communities. It’s a decision already made by the kings and queens on high.

According to Barnett, features of the globalization of the “Functioning Core Nations” include freedom (not including the freedom to reject globalization), a national economy integrated with the global economy (presumably to destroy national self-sufficiency, promote fossil fuel-run transportation, and enable US policymakers to then cut economic cords and sanction other nations to death), “connectivity” of products, services, mass media, and ideas with other nations (presumably to spread the US propaganda machine of media and movies), and “internal rule sets” that are harmonized with the “emerging global rule of democracy, rule of law, and free markets” (presumably to ensure that service to US policymakers is the number one priority). Globalization, he writes, is “a condition defined by mutually assured dependence.” As we have seen, dependence encourages powerful nations to manipulate the weak.

Barnett is not here to defend himself, and perhaps he would disagree with my interpretation of his writing. Perhaps he could provide evidence to support a different perspective. In my view, Barnett certainly demonstrates in his book what seem to be his genuinely good intentions of wanting to better the lives of people in “the Gap.” However, good intentions are not enough, and, without the intelligence and wisdom received from a variety of perspectives and informational sources, good intentions have often accompanied policies throughout time of tremendous cruelty. Barnett seems to jump to conclusions that those who do not want to globalize and follow the rule-set that the US observes are either malevolent or unreasonable.[8]

Barnett claims that globalization is primarily about exporting freedom.[9] But why is the type of freedom that zealous free-market-exporting US policymakers espouse always so wrapped up in the freedom to consume things? Related to that “freedom” is a “freedom” to diminish the depth of one’s identity and to curtail the height of one’s standards. Barnett seems to ridicule both the Iranian government for its dislike of US Barbie dolls and Nigeria for refusing to host a beauty pageant.[10] But where is the freedom not to have to associate women’s identity with the superficial and distorted skin-deep beauty of Barbie dolls and beauty pageants? Where is the freedom to enjoy non-plastic dolls created by the people of one’s own country? Or even of one’s own community? Where is the freedom to say “no” to imports and to retain individuality of cultures, even isolation of cultures, and the variety of products, foods, languages, customs, values, thought patterns, and habits of relating to life and to one another that adds so much color and profound interest to the world?

In my own research on US foreign policy and conflicts worldwide, I find that US policymakers have a quite aggressive attitude towards imposing their own values upon others. Because they assume these values are completely positive, they’re blind to the negative aspects of these values and they’re blind to their own aggression. All cultures have their positive and negative features. Positive values can have a flip side or an extreme side that is negative. It makes more sense for all nations or communities or individuals to select for themselves which positive features they want to import from which nations, not for one nation’s policymakers and businessmen to insist upon exporting its values and products to everyone else.

Of interest, one foreign visitor who observed and wrote about US culture in the 1950s had some extremely thoughtful comments to make—comments that showed great concern for anxiety in the US, for the hectic pace, for the lack of true relaxation and joy, for a lack of genuinely caring relationships, for an inability to enjoy the beauty of nature, and for the lack of freedom of thought, thanks both to publishing companies’ monopoly and to social conformity.[11] But this man has been typically ridiculed in the US, his words are taken out of context, the bulk of his words are omitted, and he’s instead wrongfully associated with violence. It’s a type of treatment parallel to the treatment in US media of Putin—a media formula of twisting and omitting the substance and perceptiveness of a man’s words and instead clumsily and slanderously associating the man with aggression and love for violence.

Who was this man?

None other than Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian considered the ideologue of radical Islam, the Egyptian hanged in 1966 by his own brutally unjust, authoritarian government. Of course, Americans are apparently not supposed to ever learn that the father of radical Islam adamantly opposed tyranny and had perceptive views and high principles with which many Americans would actually sympathize.

This subject of an aggressive drive to spread these dominant American “values” is an enormous topic that grates on cultures worldwide. Westernization grated on Russia even in the 1800s, it was a key factor driving 9/11, it even bothers many Americans, and we can return to it in a later essay on values. But note again that this attitude of wanting to impose these values and “freedoms” upon the people of the world “for their own good,” and this attitude of judging as bad—even killing—those who resist this imposition of values and way of life, is very much like the Strict parent in Lakoff’s model who won’t hear his children’s side of the story and merely assumes his rules are right and his interpretations of his children’s behaviors are accurate. With the ignorant assumption that there are no good reasons to resist globalization, Barnett’s work fails to even consider the notion of cooperative dialogue, and the actions he advocates are plainly aggressive.

While Barnett maintains that non-violent economic methods may be the best way to globalize the world, he advocates pre-emptive war by the Core nations against those who resist economic and cultural globalization and resist the Core’s set of rules. “In short, preemptive war is . . . an instrument by which the Core should collectively seek to extend its stable security rule set in the essentially lawless Gap.”[12] Remember, this book, The Pentagon’s New Map, is said to be highly popular in the Pentagon.

Barnett also explains an extremely disturbing policy plan: “We are never leaving the Gap and we are never ‘bringing the boys home.’ There is no exiting the Gap, only shrinking the Gap, and if there is no exiting the Gap, then we’d better stop kidding ourselves about ‘exit strategies.’ No exit means no exit strategy.[13] Of course, all this creates a huge market for the weapon industry, the Pentagon, the morgue, and the burgeoning private military contractor industry—militants who can be hired with our tax dollars to kill but with far less oversight than the US military receives from Congress.

Does Barnett realize how similar his thinking is to the thinking of imperial colonizers throughout the world who felt their presence was necessary to make the world better for those they were “civilizing”? Does he realize the horrors these colonizers inflicted on the natives? Does he realize how ignorant and greedy the colonizers were? Does he have any sense of the values, the types of human relations, the knowledge, wisdom, and ways of life forever lost because of this imperialism? Barnett’s thinking is jarringly reminiscent of the US when it was forcefully assimilating the Native Americans—“for their own good.”

And he’s not the only one. For example, in his work The Ideas That Conquered the World: Peace, Democracy, and Free Markets in the Twenty-First Century, Michael Mandelbaum writes of a similar need to impose democracy (in some sense of the word), free markets, and any relevant Westernizing values and habits upon other nations for their own good.[14] This is another work to take seriously, for the writing of it was supported by the Council on Foreign Relations, an organization heavily populated by particular social circles and mentalities, and an organization that has a history of exercising powerful influence over US foreign policy.

In other words, like Barnett’s decision about globalization, the decision of whether or not to have free markets is not even considered worthy of a democratically-taken vote. Instead, the “free” market system, perhaps because of that word “free,” is erroneously assumed to be the economic extension and necessary twin of democracy.[15] In fact, it’s the other way around: US “democracy,” which is really plutocracy, is the extension of the free market system: in both systems, a hierarchy of wealth reigns and those with more money have enormously more power and freedom to drive and shape the system.

Ignoring the violence that can result from imposing an economic system upon others, especially if it requires a US coup, ignoring the extreme hostility that can erupt from imposed Westernization, and ignoring multiple other factors necessary for peace, such as love, caring, understanding, comprehensive truth, impartial reporting, justice, and freedom from anxiety and excessive fear, Mandelbaum instead refers to President Woodrow Wilson and the Wilsonian Triad. Wilson’s Triad supposedly demonstrates that democracy, free markets, and peace are three elements that are all necessary for one another and mutually supportive of one another,[16] again, especially if one dismisses as inconsequential the violent consequences of imposing political systems, economic systems, and Westernization upon other nations.

Belief in this triad also appears to underly the beliefs of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) itself, whose policymakers, bankers, lawyers, and business CEOs coordinate their activities to advance US big business aims abroad, which just so happen to be their own aims. In fact, the topic and approach of Mandelbaum’s book were suggested to him by Leslie Gelb, president of the CFR. Paul Wolfowitz, a former member of the neoconservative Project for a New American Century (PNAC), provided additional support. In addition to the CFR, policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) also betray a blind faith in this belief.

While Mandelbaum places Wilson’s ideas on a pedestal, note that President Wilson himself (1913-1921) was a major military interventionist, particularly in Latin America. He apparently felt he was fulfilling a divine mission of sorts by imposing his felt-to-be-benevolent ideas upon other societies.[17] As Stephen Kinzer remarks in his work on Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and CIA Director Allen Dulles, “The Dulles brothers were products of the same missionary ethos that shaped Wilson. His example strengthened their conviction that there is nothing intrinsically wrong—and indeed, much that is admirable—in American intervention abroad.”[18] But it is this very missionary ethos that can blind policymakers to the cruelty and ignorance of their own actions.

Wilson dispatched US troops to intervene in more nations than any previous president: Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Nicaragua. He even dispatched troops to the USSR.[19] In 1916–1917, Wilson sent 6,000 US troops to Mexico under General Pershing, infamous for massacring Philippinos, in hopes of murdering Pancho Villa, who in turn was fighting the US-supported Mexican dictator.[20] Soon after that, Wilson then sent the US Marines on a five-year occupation of Cuba that lasted until 1922.[21] Already by 1920, American-owned mills produced about half of Cuba’s sugar.[22] And here we’re getting a taste of what I believe is one of the real goals of spreading “free” markets abroad: controlling other’s resources in order to bring profit and wealth to certain Americans of certain social circles.

If there’s any doubt about whether free market ideology supports all people within the system or just some of them, note that it was also Wilson who dispatched the US army to crush the miner’s strike in Ludlow, Colorado. The Colorado miners were mostly immigrants who’d been striking since 1913 against their low wages, dangerous work conditions, and feudal-like domination in towns completely owned by the mining companies. Beware: supporting free markets should not be implied to be the equivalent of love for blue skies, fresh breezes, and sunshine. While free markets have their advantages, I think the zealous, narrow-minded support for maintaining and spreading free markets worldwide is largely about the freedom to let loose the forces of greed and exploitation in order to satisfy greed. In fact, I think a more accurate term than “free” markets is “unrestrained” markets, for greed is restrained neither by law nor by moral principle.

Mandelbaum and the CFR might disagree with me. Perhaps they’d feel I’m not understanding their own views correctly. Perhaps they also disapprove of exploitation and Wilson’s behavior towards the strikers. Perhaps in cooperative dialogue we could find some common ground about the pros and cons of the market system. It would be interesting if they could engage in cooperative dialogue with the US railway workers recently threatening to strike over their abusive work conditions.

Intermingled with the zealous, missionary-type conviction regarding the wonderful consequences of the imposition of US rules, values, and free markets abroad is an unusual preoccupation with ideas of domination. Like the work of the neoconservative Project for a New American Century (PNAC) discussed in the earlier essay Part 3B, Mandelbaum’s work, as evidenced by its very title, also revolves excessively around the theme of domination.[23] As noted in the earlier essay Part 4B, those who see the world excessively in terms of domination, those who view human relations in terms of power, control, superiority, and inferiority, may have an inability to relate to humans in other ways, such as with understanding, equality, joy, love, and curiosity.

Have people like Mandelbaum and Barnett and the former members of the PNAC taken the time to live with, understand, and even survey a variety of people who have already been on the receiving end of these “civilizing” influences or who would likely be on the receiving end of US pre-emptive war? Or do their psychological habits of mind and preoccupations with domination, authority, rules, free market investments, and power restrict their ability to even consider taking such steps? It’s yet one more reason why a preponderance of those who adhere to the Strict Model and who exhibit other psychological limitations should not be dominating US foreign policymaking.

Perhaps these limitations are what cause such individuals to trivialize non-violent conflict resolution efforts as merely a “group hug.” They put down as faulty that which they don’t understand and cannot grasp. They see one-sided rules and one-sided guns as realistic and anything more cooperative and caring than that as nonsense. They scorn techniques that have little to do with rules, free markets, and the military because they cannot even imagine the other possibilities, possibilities that are much, much more than a “group hug” and that spring from truly listening to one another, acquiring understanding of others’ perspectives, unraveling prejudice, throwing out one-sided propaganda, insisting upon 360-degree comprehensive reporting not funded by the weapon industry, genuinely caring, maintaining one’s consciousness in one’s heart, and integrating ideas together in cooperative negotiation.

Like Lakoff’s Strict parent who believes that observing rules is the key to maintaining a healthy, functioning family, Barnett believes that systems of rules are what reduce violent conflict. According to Barnett, as rules are established and enforced, violence decreases.[24] Moreover, the US military is the ultimate global rules enforcer of one set of rules. His book seems to involve: No understanding. No listening to both sides. No uncovering the historical and cultural Roots of Violence. No love. No awareness of the trauma and horror of war. No cooperative writing of the rules. None of that is crucial to peace. All that is necessary for the good of all are rules and their one-sided creation and military imposition and enforcement. I imagine that this concept of a rule-based order is identical to Damon Wilson’s. Frankly, it seems that these men desperately do want peace and justice, but they don’t know how to go about it.

Another disturbing feature of The Pentagon’s New Map is that Barnett seems to be trying to find a purpose for the military which, he writes, has been foundering without any clear vision since the Cold War.[25] The military itself is entirely a Strict Model organization: hierarchy, competition, one set of rules, unquestioning obedience, rewards and punishments to control the behavior of US troops and US enemies. When you try to find a new purpose for the military, you’re trying to find more of a role for the Strict Model in the world. The idea of trying to find a new purpose for the military is strange enough; it’s like trying to find a continuing role for the guillotine. If society moves to a point where a violent organization is less necessary, that should be considered a positive step, not a reason to lament the shrinking of the role of the violent organization.

The dynamics within the Pentagon described by Barnett are also unsettling because they distract from any mission of peace: the competitive hopes for promotion and glory, for creating the “killer brief” to get one’s ideas into policy, for finding a purpose for the military.[26] Barnett hopes his new strategy can be the grand strategy that replaces the former strategy of containment. With conflicts springing up all along the borders of Russia and China and continuing in the Middle East, with US weapons and money funding a proxy war in Ukraine, and with 800 US military bases worldwide, including those surrounding Iran, China, and Russia, it seems that Barnett’s dream of conflict all along the border between the Functioning Core Nations and the Non-Integrating Gap is coming true.

Barnett is convinced that his policies will promote goodness, but his strategy is the same stale, unworkable formula that violence and force will bring everlasting peace. Ironically, his hope is that the use of US economic and military power—war—to help force the Gap to globalize will eventually lead to total globalization, which, he believes, will result in an end to all wars. Unfortunately, intentions of goodness can blind people to the horror, illogic, and ignorance of their ideas.

Barnett was an advocate of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq because he believed the US should topple Saddam Hussein in order to break Iraq out of the Gap and into the group of Functioning Core Nations. Frankly, I think millions of Iraqis could provide more than enough proof that Iraq, already brought to its knees and barely functioning from the 1991 war and merciless, brutal UN sanctions, was driven by the 2003 US invasion into a state of non-functioning, without even sanitary water to survive.

In her 2018 work, Women and Gender in Iraq: Between Nation-Building and Fragmentation, Zahra Ali points out that more than a decade later, Iraqis, so utterly destroyed by US policies and violence, continue to suffer from a lack of basic services, including access to clean, running water and electricity, housing, food, health care, medical equipment, and employment. Even in Baghdad, Iraqis are not receiving electricity for more than five hours per day.[27] It is incomprehensible how anyone could say or predict that attacking a nation will raise it to higher levels of existence and bring it into the “functioning group of Core nations.” No doubt, US policymakers continue to deny their own ignorance and stupidity and instead blame Iraqis for not responding properly to the US invasion and occupation, as all good, obedient people should do

Nonetheless, Barnett is convinced that being attacked by the United States and enduring war in order to become globalized will lead to a better future than living outside the spread of globalization. Even if we leave aside his glossing over of the material destruction of Iraq’s homes, businesses, buildings, infrastructure, electricity, water, transportation, and systems of law, health care, and education, Barnett exhibits no qualms or perhaps awareness of the illegality and immorality of invading other nations and destroying life and environment. He fails to demonstrate any respect for learning about and understanding the intelligent perspectives of those targeted for an invasion. His thinking expresses no recognition that such invasions foment horror, tension, fear, anxiety, despair, violence, and trauma, as described so well in Deborah Ellis’ Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees.[28]

Barnett’s thinking seems entirely devoid of any awareness of the severe emotions endured by the targets of an invasion and their despair at losing the lives of loved ones. His thinking is devoid of any awareness that peace requires a psychology of inner peace, trust, respect, and caring within society and within individuals that has not been torn into shreds by terror and despair. What type of globalization could ever compensate for the killing of one’s loved ones? What type of globalization could ever compensate for the permanent loss of one’s inner peace?

There’s no acknowledgement in his work that the creation of these horrendously negative psychological states of mind spawns what the Paradigm for Peace model terms the Aggressive Roots of Violence. There’s no understanding that a US invasion, by failing to resolve any roots of problems and by instead creating further injustices, also aggravates the Defensive Roots of Violence. Barnett’s top-down control approach will only continue to escalate hostility, injustice, violence, and war, not peace.

It’s worth pointing out here that Barnett’s vision is quite the opposite of that imagined by the Three Facets of Solutions of my own model, Paradigm for Peace. I’ll discuss the Three Facets more in a later essay and the differences between the Three Facets and the approaches advocated by individuals such as Barnett, Damon Wilson, President Wilson, and Mandelbaum and groups such as PNAC. However, to briefly explain, the Three Facets encompass as solutions the 1st Facet of mental tools of Human Development, 2nd Facet legal tools of Justice, and 3rd Facet physical tools of Physical Control. Barnett’s rules-based order, in a negative, authoritarian sort of way, falls under the 2nd Facet, and the use of the US military to enforce this order falls, again in a negative, authoritarian sort of way, under the 3rd Facet.

Barnett’s vision not only thwarts the non-authoritarian nature of the Three Facets and the Paradigm for Peace model, but it entirely omits the 1st Facet mental tools, the most powerful and most neglected tools of all! The 1st Facet includes a focus on skills and qualities such as understanding, communication, love, parenting, friendship-making, prejudice reduction, comprehensive media reporting, cooperative dialogue, cooperative negotiation, teaching non-violence, and teaching alternatives to war. Note that Mandelbaum’s Wilsonian Triad is also extremely limited by claiming that the so-called democracy we have and “free” markets are the two essential ingredients of peace—a totally 2nd Facet approach to peace that relies solely upon political and economic systems, and limited ones at that.

We’ve been talking a lot about Thomas Barnett’s and Michael Mandelbaum’s world visions in order to gather clues as to the nature of the “US-led rules-based order,” but we don’t know exactly the nature of this order advocated by Damon Wilson, President of the National Endowment for Democracy. Does Wilson also have in mind the imposition of globalization, integrated economies, a free market system, integrated information and communication, and other Westernizing values and habits, such as Barbie dolls, beauty pageants, cell phones, and violent video games? Are the rules in this rules-based order created by the policymakers of “superior” nations with the expectation that they’ll be observed by those in “inferior” nations without their democratic input?

I haven’t seen the official rulebook of this “US-led rules-based order,” and those who are familiar with the rules are welcome to point out if my assumptions are incorrect. However, another way to make educated guesses about the nature of this order is through an examination of the typical characteristics of US foreign policy, past and present. Based upon decades of history of US behavior abroad and also based upon the attitudes Wilson evinces in his full testimony, I imagine the words “rules-based” are included in the term that Wilson and others use probably to soften the self-centered, imperial sounds of “US-led” and make this new order sound fair, as if everyone’s playing by the same rules. But the way I see it, the rules of this US-led order likely are either not intended for the rulemakers to follow or, if they’re intended for all nations including the US to observe, then the rules are undoubtedly written so as to support US policymakers’ interests.

The neoconservatives and liberal hawks and interventionists in Biden’s administration and beyond are welcome to correct me if I’m wrong. It would be a useful topic for cooperative dialogue to learn exactly how this “US-led rules-based” order could possibly manage to be impartial. However, those who insist that US policymakers would adhere to impartial law, law blind to the identity of the violator, law that does not play favorites, should be ready to respond to these questions:

If, in a US-led rules-based order, US policymakers intended to observe international law and multilateral treaties, then why would US policymakers currently be in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by deploying nuclear warheads in five nations of Europe and by revitalizing their nuclear arsenal rather than dismantling it? Why would they have violated the Korean Armistice Agreement by deploying hundreds of nuclear weapons to South Korea—not removed until 1991?[29] Why would they have expanded NATO in violation of the 1999 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Charter for European Security and the 2010 OSCE Astana Declaration referred to by Putin in his February 21, 2022 speech? Why would they have violated international law with the 2003 invasion and illegal occupation of Iraq, policies and practices of torture, and extrajudicial drone strikes in multiple nations? Why would they not prosecute US leaders—including several US presidents, troops, and contractors for war crimes and crimes against humanity? No one should be fooled into thinking that a US-led rules-based order would be an order in which US policymakers would adhere to international law, national law, or any law, for that matter.

Based upon my study of US policymakers’ reaction to 9/11 and to circumstances in the Mid-East for decades prior to 9/11, I would assume that a US-led rules-based order would favor powerful rulers who support US policymakers’ self-serving goals and be deaf to all others. Considering that the US government failed to address a single one of the multiple grievances driving the actions of those attacking the symbols of the US government, military, and economic system on 9/11, considering that the US government felt self-righteous in its solely punitive response, we can hardly expect a US-led rules-based order to be anything but a Strict Model, imbalanced, partial version of justice in which the grievances of those with less power, wealth, and status are neither acknowledged nor considered.

Based upon my study of the past few centuries of US foreign policy, I would suspect that the “US-led rules-based order” is a set of US policymaker-made rules intended to replace international law, and I strongly suspect that the US-led rules include many double standards:

“The secession we support is legal. The secession you support is not. If you don’t support Kosovo’s and Taiwan’s secession, you’re dead. If you support Donetsk, Lugansk, and Crimea’s secession, you’re dead. Our political interference in foreign elections and our foreign coups are democratic and respectful of sovereignty. Your interference is not democratic or respectful of sovereignty. We’ve interfered in a lot more foreign political elections than you ever have, but we’re right and you’re wrong. Our invasions, killings of civilians, and torture uphold humanity and human rights. Your invasions do not, and your killings of civilians are barbaric war crimes.

“Our weapon shipments uphold civilization. Your weapon shipments threaten the world with the ultimate destruction of civilization. Our violence is noble, good-hearted, sensible, and defensive. Yours is aggressive and proof of your delusional cravings for empire. Our one-sided media permanently tells the truth. Your news is one vicious lie after another. Everything we do brings smiles to good people’s faces and frowns to bad people’s faces. Everything you do brings smiles to bad people’s faces and frowns to good people’s faces.”

Note that such double standards are a function of prejudice, a type of thinking that takes a shortcut around logic, proof, and understanding and instead automatically perceives what one group of people does as angelic and what another group of people does as demonic. And note too that, in addition to the Strict Model of human relations taking center stage, we also have another psychological dynamic going on which was also introduced in the previous essay Part 4B, what Gordon Allport described as the Prejudiced Personality. Support for authoritarianism and prejudice, including the concept of patriotism, are features of this personality.[30] So instead of benefitting from any superior intellects and morals at work in our top leadership, we witness and suffer instead from leaders’ stunted notions of human relations based upon prejudice and authoritarianism—two major features of US foreign policy towards Native Americans that led to their round-ups and extermination.

Based on US and NATO’s behavior in arming Ukraine, in the US-led rules-based order, NATO, which seems to obey US policymakers more than anyone else, is presumably elevated as the military fist of this order to enforce “the rules.” No doubt, NATO is to be treated like a deity-dressed-in-white that, being infallible in its one-sided support for US policymakers, will never be subservient to the UN or international law. As discussed in the previous essay, Part 4Q, it’s absolutely inaccurate to claim that NATO is a force that supports democracy. Yet NATO, a highly unilateral, one-sided organization serving the US government and protecting its pipeline dreams, is inappropriately portrayed as the good guy who has every right to send weapons and wage war, for his purposes are always good and his intelligence supreme.

Based on my understanding of US foreign policy, I would wager that other examples of this US-led rules-based order include the conditions set by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund that must be met by poor nations seeking a loan: sell publicly-owned utilities and companies, end government support for the poor’s access to food, and privatize water, electricity, communication, transportation, the energy sector, etc. Other rules might pertain to ownership of property: foreign nationalization of US oil businesses abroad is illegal, but US privatization of foreign utilities is legal, especially as a forced condition for a loan.

US-created rules in the wake of a US invasion would undoubtedly also be included in the US-led rulebook, with characteristics much like what transpired in Iraq when US proconsul L. Paul Bremer III passed orders that laid Iraq’s resources and wealth open to the grasping hands of US banks and businessmen, leaving precious little for the Iraqis themselves.[31] It would be interesting to hear from Wilson if, in fact, plans such as these would be pushed by the US-led rules-based order in new areas of possible conquest, such as Russia, China, and Iran.

Most of all, I would bet anything that the US-led rules-based order has a lot to do with what I described in the earlier essays Parts 3A and 3C as the “Four Commandments.” These commandments are ones I wrote based upon my twenty-one years of research of US foreign policy round the world. They genuinely seem to exist as tacit, undeclared rules that US foreign policymakers have expected all other nations to obey for decades.

These commandments are the foundations of the foreign policymaking establishment’s pseudo-religion. In terms of the Transactional Analysis discussed in the previous essay 4Q, this religion is not based upon the rational, impartial analysis of the wise ego, but it’s instead fully founded upon the negative traits of the parent ego—prejudices, narrow-mindedness, and punitiveness, and the negative traits of the child ego—self-centeredness, self-indulgence, fearfulness, and aggression.[32]

First Commandment: Thou shalt not obstruct US businesses’ profit-making abroad.

Second Commandment: Thou shalt not significantly help the poor or give decent amounts of fertile land to the landless.

Third Commandment: Thou shalt not be enemies with our friends, or friends with our enemies.

Fourth Commandment: Thou shalt not reject US military bases and weapons.

In the eyes of US foreign policymakers, violation of these commandments appears to indicate a degree of independence from the US that is frightening, insufficiently reverent to US policymakers, and simply not acceptable. If you look through the past several decades of history of US foreign policy, you’ll note that any nation that violates one or more of these commandments—Guatemala, Iran, Congo, Brazil, Ecuador, Indonesia, Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Venezuela—is then labeled an enemy by US policymakers. That nation and its leader may then become targeted for a coup, character assassination courtesy of the US propaganda machine, economic unrest, political turmoil, and possibly an outright invasion.

Notice the types of values and culture created by the Four Commandments. The First Commandment entails a materialist and consumerist culture, a culture that supports the values that accompany the nature of the products and services themselves, and a culture that values the changes in human relations and life that accompany consumerism and materialism, with a focus on stuff. It’s a culture that encourages people to seek profit at the expense of others and to value profit as a measure of their own value and the value of their lives and relationships. In the minds of those who support the Strict Model, one’s wealth is an indicator of one’s morality and superiority.

The Second Commandment ensures that money will be spent, not on alleviating poverty or redistributing land, but on accumulating wealth and land in the hands of a few, including the weapon, military, and private military industries. It supports a culture with hierarchy and without compassion. In the eyes of those who support the Strict Model, the poor are poor because they’re less moral than the wealthy. Therefore, helping the poor would be immoral. Wealth is an indicator of superior morality, and therefore, the wealthy should be rewarded with greater wealth.

The Third Commandment ensures that nations will support US policymakers in their punitive economic and military actions against other nations deemed enemy. It therefore supports the Strict Model with its relations of rewards and punishments between nations and between people. It also supports a pale form of friendship between nations and people that depends upon subservience, obedience, and usefulness rather than caring, love, mutual understanding, mutual sharing of ideas, equality, and the enjoyment of one another’s company.

Lastly, the Fourth Commandment buttresses the worldwide expansion of the US military and private US military contractors. This in turn supports international, national, and personal relations based upon intimidation, threat, and punishment. Unlike the religious commandment, “Do not kill,” the Fourth Commandment of US foreign policymakers supports the idea that people, especially governments, have the right to kill one another—even in great quantity—and that the gains made from winning a war, as abstract and temporary as they may be, are worth all the killing. Belief in such corporal punishment can also be an indicator of the Strict Model’s rule.

The Fourth Commandment supports violence and the threat of violence as solutions of first resort—or second and third resort behind bribes and sanctions—rather than last resort. It diminishes the power and status of those who fervently believe, understand, and excel in cooperative dialogue, integrative negotiation, and non-violent conflict resolution. It encourages the military domination of US policymakers over the entire world, including over Americans. It also encourages the lopsided growth of one kind of career for Americans: military careers. I suppose that’s why Navy and Army “Career” Centers have sprung up in our neighborhood malls and kids are encouraged to play video games of killing that develop their skills in drone warfare and that stunt their ability to empathize with the targets of their weapons.

Russia, you’ll note, violates just about all, if not all of these preposterous Four Commandments. So, when this simplistic formula of the Four Commandments is applied to evaluating foreign nations, US policymakers doing the moronic math determine that Russia is an enemy, a bad guy. In fact, while US policymakers accuse Putin and Russia of violating the post-Cold War settlement, of threatening civilization, democracy, freedom, and humanity, I believe that US policymakers are actually angry about Russia’s violations of the Four Commandments, which I believe are probably the primary components of the US-led rules-based order that enables US policymakers to impose their covertly and overtly authoritarian rule upon the world.

If policymakers disagree with my theories as to what the US-led rules-based order would entail, namely, an order in which US policymakers are above the law or create law that favors themselves, an order that favors powerful, US-deal-making rulers and punishes and scorns all others and their grievances, and an order with double standards, NATO as the military fist, conditions of privatization, exploitation, and poverty imposed by the World Bank and IMF, and imposition of the Four Commandments, they’re welcome to come forward in cooperative dialogue and prove that these theories aren’t true.

It’s always important to hear other points of view, and it’s critically important not to simply condemn people and summarize their views for them but to allow people to clarify their own goals and actions, defend their reasoning, and correct our interpretations of them. Just as US policymakers should demonstrate this attitude towards their so-called enemies ranging from Putin to members of al-Qaeda, we should have this attitude towards US policymakers. Do they feel that my predictions and interpretations of their behaviors and goals are far too cynical? Am I somehow twisting their goals and actions? What would they like me and others to better understand about them?

What makes these US policymakers so dangerous is that they think they’re forces of goodness. Many US policymakers ranging from neoconservative to liberal hawk and liberal interventionist honestly believe they’re the good guys. Barnett believes his wars for globalization will create peace. Mandelbaum believes his imposed economic systems and accompanying free market values will create peace. PNAC believes the military is necessary for the world’s happiness.[33]

With such benevolent-minded people blind to the cruel consequences of their actions in power, it’s easy to see the danger of having US policymakers leading a rules-based order, whether solely in Europe or worldwide. And with the US government in control of the largest military arsenal in the world, this situation is utterly dangerous, both to foreigners and to Americans. Making the situation even worse is that US foreign policymakers, with their obsessively competitive, threat-oriented, self-righteous psychologies, will perceive anyone who tries to stop them—American and foreigner alike—as aggressive and malicious!

Recall Putin’s 2007 speech in Munich, discussed in the earlier essay Part 4H, in which Putin explained that a unipolar world is dangerous because in a unipolar world there is one master who makes the rules for all the rest. Putin’s right. It’s obviously unwise for one nation’s policymakers to have that much power and to have absolutely no checks on their power, not from within their country and not from without.

Rather than condemning Putin for seeking to overturn a US-led rules-based order, we would use our time better by nailing down the nature of this order and questioning the reasons for it, the legality of it, and the presence or absence of a democratic demand for it. It is slanderous to suggest that Putin’s opposition to a US-led rules-based order is evidence of his own alleged authoritarian or imperial aims. In fact, it is much more likely that the US-led rules-based order itself embraces both authoritarianism and imperialism.

Kristin Christman has been independently researching US foreign policy and peace since 9/11. Her channel focuses on US-Russian relations at Kristin graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College with a BA in Russian, and she holds Master’s degrees in Slavic languages from Brown University and public administration from SUNY Albany. She has been a guest with former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter and UNAC coordinator Joe Lombardo on Cynthia Pooler’s program, Issues that Matter, Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice recently published her article on suicide, culture, and peace in their special edition on suicide, Vol. 33 No. 4.  [email protected]

[1] Thomas Barnett, The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century, (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2004), 122-27.

[2] Barnett, Pentagon’s New Map, 40.

[3] Barnett, Pentagon’s New Map, 46.

[4] George Lakoff, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago, 2002), 65-107.

[5] Lakoff, Moral Politics, 104-6.

[6] Christoper Simpson, The Splendid Blond Beast: Money, Law, and Genocide in the Twentieth Century (New York: Grove Press, 1993), 12, 152.

[7] Lakoff, Moral Politics, 108-40.

[8] Barnett, Pentagon’s New Map, 122-27.

[9] Barnett, Pentagon’s New Map, 124.

[10] Barnett, Pentagon’s New Map, 125-26.

[11] James L. Nolan Jr., What They Saw in America (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

John Calvert, Sayyid Qutb and the Origins of Radical Islamism (New York: Oxford Univ., 2018).

[12] Barnett, Pentagon’s New Map, 40.

[13] Barnett, Pentagon’s New Map, 178-79.

[14] Michael Mandelbaum, The Ideas That Conquered the World: Peace, Democracy, and Free Markets in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge: PublicAffairs, 2003), 379-80.

[15] Mandelbaum, Ideas That Conquered, 31.

[16] Mandelbaum, Ideas That Conquered, 11.

[17] Stephen Kinzer, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War” (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013), 31-33.

[18] Kinzer, Brothers, 32-33, 55-56.

[19] Kinzer, Brothers, 32.

[20] James D. Cockcroft, Latin America: History, Politics, and US Policy (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1998) 93-94.

[21] Kinzer, Brothers, 24.

[22] Thomas G. Paterson, J. Garry Clifford, and Kenneth J. Hagan, American Foreign Policy: A History Since 1900 (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 1991), 227-29.

[23] Project for the New American Century (PNAC), “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” Donald Kagan and Gary Schmitt, Project Co-Chairmen; Thomas Donnelly, Principal Author, (Washington, DC, 2000).

[24] Barnett, Pentagon’s New Map, 82-83.

[25] Barnett, Pentagon’s New Map, 65-67, 75, 80.

[26] Barnett, Pentagon’s New Map, 65-67, 75, 80.

[27] Zahra Ali, Women and Gender in Iraq: Between Nation-Building and Fragmentation (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ., 2018), 136.

[28] Deborah Ellis, Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees (Berkeley: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi), 2009.

[29] Bruce Cumings, North Korea: Another Country (New York: New Press, 2004), 53.

Jae-Bong Lee, “US Deployment of Nuclear Weapons in 1950s South Korea & North Korea’s Nuclear Development: Toward Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus 7 (Feb. 17, 2009), 15,


[30] Gordon Allport, The Nature of Prejudice, (New York, NY:  Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1979), 395-408.

[31] Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (New York: Nation Books, 2007), 68.

[32] Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward, Born to Win (New York:  Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1971), 10-11, 17-18, 23.

[33] PNAC, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” i.



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