US foreign policy is such that it is still trying the maintain security atmosphere in the rest of the world in order to protect US economic interests through arms sales and to offset its trade deficit with its economic partners.
According to the report by the SIPRI Institute, US weapon manufacturing companies were able to increase their arms sales by 4% in 2017 to over $217 billion. Therefore, White House officials are trying to maintain their confrontational strategies against countries that are seen as threats to the US interests. The culmination of this confrontational strategy could be seen in the new strategy adopted by US National Security in which everything boils down to US interests and the idea of “America First”. In this same vein, emphasis is laid upon dealing with such countries as China and Russia at a macro-level and countries like Iran and North Korea at the regional level. The preference for US economic interests over other things is a clear indication of the White House’s foreign policy, which could clearly be seen in this new strategy, so that the main message of this strategy is the slogan “America First”, frequently used in the words of Trump. In the National Security’s Strategic document, emphasis has been placed on Washington’s military and economic dominance in the international arena, assuming that everything has been against US interests and that the United States needs to rely solely on its own capabilities to advance its interests. Therefore, in the new strategy, the priority is “competition” and, at the same time, “conflict” in the US foreign policy.
The most important point in this strategy is that the United States seeks to confront the two revisionist powers, i.e., China and Russia, which seek to change the world order to be at odds with US interests, the only difference being that in this program, the details of the program to deal with China’s economic ambitions have been worked out whereas very little has been said about the cyber attacks and the information which Russia had available to it to influence US elections. This indicates that according to the US president, US economic security is part of its national security. That is why for the US, mutual trade agreements are a priority and it is necessary to deal with China’s economic behaviors. Thus, US treatment of other countries could be interpreted in this context of US confrontational attitude and its materialistic greediness.
The US and Western Asia
The most important action in the US foreign policy over the past weeks was the announcement of the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist Regime. Trump’s decision to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem is said to have been done in spite of the resistance and opposition of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs of the United States Department of State. Of course, two points need to be made: 1. This announcement was made at the time of internal conditions that Trump faced, after there were clues about the possible relationship between his campaign team and Russia, and the possibility of Trump’s impeachment being strengthened, to divert public opinion pressure so that these pressures would be eased. Trump’s intention in raising this issue is to unite the American domestic community around it. In addition, he is seeking to gain the support of the Zionist lobby to dissuade Congress from continuing the investigation of the team inspecting Russia’s interference in US elections. That is why Tillerson announced that the transfer may take more than two years. Following the protests against this decision in the region and the world, the vice-president’s visit to the region and the occupied territories was postponed. 2. This decision has a religious dimension and is based on the ideological principles of radical Christianity in America. Trump is said to be basically seeking the forced migration of Jews to the Occupied Territories, with the support of radical Christianity. This goal is being implemented with the support and assistance of the Christian institute of “Christians United for Israel”. For years, this institute has tried to persuade Jews to migrate to Israel. This is because, according to their radical theology, all Jews should be settled in this region at the time of Christ’s advent so that they could realize the falsehood of their religion and convert to Christianity. This radical thinking basically does not have any legitimacy for the Jewish religion. Therefore, US support for Jerusalem as capital will cause more Jews to travel to the occupied territories.
As for Syria, Washington is still supporting Syrian Kurds and is setting up a new army in Syria to counter the Syrian government’s military actions. This is similar to what the US did in the 1980s during the Afghan war against the Soviet Union. It set up and trained armed terrorist groups in Afghanistan to combat Soviet forces. It now claims to be fighting against these same groups to increase its influence and presence. US Defense Department spokesman, Eric Bahon, said that the United States would maintain its military presence in Syria as long as “needed to protect its partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups to the country.” Bahon stated that there is no timetable for the withdrawal or not withdrawal of their troops in this country. Earlier, the Secretary of Defense had emphasized the long-term US presence in Syria. On the other hand, the United States seeks to undermine the summit of the three countries of Russia, Iran and Turkey in Sochi in relation to Syria and to give more weight to the process of negotiations in Geneva. Tillerson also said the involvement of Assad’s representatives in UN-led talks is important for the success of these talks. On the other hand, the State Department spokesman said that Assad will have no place in the future of Syria. All in all, it seems that, as the New Yorker has put it, the United States agrees with Assad’s remaining in power until 2021. However, in the long run, it wants to remove him from power. Relations between the United States and Turkey are worsening day by day. In recent weeks, given the confessions of the Iranian-Turkish businessman, Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-American businessman, against Turkish officials in circumventing Iran sanctions, these relations have even worsened. Turkey has said the trial is an attempt by the United States to target the country’s economy and ruin its credibility. As for Saudi Arabia, Trump’s government has cautiously called on Saudi Arabia to take a softer approach to Yemen, Qatar and Lebanon. On his trip to Paris, Tillerson said that Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen should be “calculated and proportionate”. Of course, he praised Saudi Arabia’s domestic efforts to promote domestic reforms and to fight corruption, which the Crown Prince directs. However, he criticized Saudi Arabia’s actions at the international level and urged Saudi Arabia to take action against these three countries more cautiously and more thoughtfully. Tillerson also called for a “complete end” to the Yemeni siege to allow humanitarian aids and basic necessities. Earlier, on December 4th, Trump declared that he had ordered “US administration authorities to contact the Saudi authorities to ask them to allow food, fuel, water and medicine to reach the Yemeni people fully.” Meanwhile, the US State Department spokesman said “we are in close contact with the authorities in Saudi Arabia … We are particularly concerned about the escalation of violence against peaceful demonstrators in Yemen”.
Saudi Arabia is also vehemently trying to build two nuclear reactors by seeking assistance from American companies. For this same purpose, they have lobbied companies like American Westinghouse and this company is in talks with other US companies to form a consortium to take part in a multi-billion dollar bid to build two nuclear reactors. One of Saudis’ conditions for the construction of these reactors is the recognition of its enrichment right in Saudi Arabia’s territory. Of course, there are people in the US who oppose the nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the enrichment right. David Albright, a former UN weapons inspector and the head of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, said that recognizing Saudi Arabia’s enrichment right would undermine America’s credibility and increase the risk of nuclear weapons development by Saudi Arabia and the entire region. In this same vein, a meeting has been held between US government officials and Senate delegates to discuss the sale of nuclear reactor technologies to Saudi Arabia.
On December 2, the US Secretary of Defense made his five-day trip to four countries of Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Kuwait. According to a Defense Ministry statement, the purpose of the visit was “to declare US renewed commitment to a partnership in the Middle East, West Africa and South Asia”. Mattis announced that the program of supplying weapons for the Syrian Kurds is changing and that the military assistance program is being replaced by provision of help to form the local police and security forces. He said the Pentagon “is changing the composition of our forces” in Syria to test the diplomatic routes for peace with the collapse of ISIL”. Mattis also went on a trip to Pakistan to push Pakistani authorities to double their efforts to confront the Taliban and prevent their free and comfortable transit from the Pakistan border to Afghanistan so that Pakistan would not become a safe haven.
The US and the Europe
The confrontational strategy and the idea of peace through power have made rifts in America’s relations with Europe, which could best be exemplified in the issue of the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist regime. The difference of opinion between the two sides caused the European countries to vote against the American representation during the voting in the Security Council and the UN General Assembly. The European members of the Security Council, consisting of Sweden, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, also considered the US President’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist regime in contravention of international law, and emphasized that the East Jerusalem is part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Of course, it should be noted that ultimately the Europe’s problem with Trump is not about the content but about his tactics for realizing the goals of the Western world.
Another bone of contention, which has caused growing disagreement between the United States and Europe, is the issue of tax reform in the United States. The finance ministers of five major economies in Europe – Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy and France- expressed concerns about the US tax reform law. In a letter of protest addressed to the US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, they called the White House’s Tax Initiative a safeguard measure that threatens the flow of foreign investment, financial structures, and the entire business of the world. For these countries, this corporate tax cut will push companies from countries that are taxing more than US to rush to this country. The influx of producers and foreign assets into the United States will have a negative impact on the economic condition of rival European and Asian countries. For Russia, of course, US tax reform will play into the hands of Russians. The soured foreign trade relations with the United States and the need for finding new markets for European companies will encourage the European Union to seek a way out of the impasse in sanctions against Russia. And the more active Trump becomes to support US domestic products, the more likely it is that Europe will lift anti-Russian European sanctions.
The Atlantic Council has prepared a new document for America’s strategy in the Balkans. By following the model of “peace through power,” it calls for America’s return to the Balkans to counter Russia’s influence in the region. The strategy includes three key principles: first, the permanent US military presence in southeastern Europe. According to the authors of the plan, for this purpose, the military base of Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, which is currently being used to meet the needs of the international KFOR forces, will be ideal.
The second principle is a historical reconciliation with Serbia, which can, and, must, be a US partner in the region provided that Serbia distances itself from Russia. And the third principle is the activation of US mediation measures in settling regional disputes. Although the document, titled “The Balkans Go Ahead, New American Strategy for the Region” is not considered a formal document, it is quite possible that it will form Washington’s future policy towards the region.
On the other hand, in order to strengthen America’s presence in Eastern Europe, joint military exercises were held in the Black Sea region by the United States and Ukraine. In the Black Sea region, the naval and military forces of the Ukrainian Army carried out joint military exercises based on NATO standards with the assistance of the US Destroyer James Williams. By travelling to Brussels and meeting with 28 European Union foreign ministers and in support of European allies who are concerned about US-led foreign policy under Trump, Tillerson also said that the United States would remain committed to Europe. He said the partnership between the United States and the European Union is based on shared values and the common security goals on both sides of the Atlantic, and that they will remain committed to it.
America and East Asia
A week after the launch of the new North Korean ballistic missile, the United States and South Korea held a 5-day joint military exercise. About 230 airplanes, including F-22s, F-35s, and about 12,000 US military troops, including Marine Corps and naval forces, along with South Korean army troops took part in the exercise. The United States and Japan also conducted a military exercise over the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula where bombers, F35 and F-18 fighters were involved. South Korea also plans to buy 20 other F-35s from the United States less than two months after Trump said Seoul had to buy billions of dollars in new combat equipment.
The White House’s National Security Advisor, in his speech at the Reagan Foundation, called North Korea “the greatest and most immediate” threat to the United States, saying that the risk of war with that country is increasing. On the other hand, in a statement indicative of Washington’s new diplomatic initiative for Pyongyang, the US secretary of state said, “If North Korea is willing to do so, we will be ready to negotiate without any preconditions.” It is unclear whether Tillerson’s remarks are indicative of a change in US policy towards North Korea, or these reflect the personal position of the US Secretary of State. Earlier in October, Tillerson said that he was exploring possible opportunities for direct talks with North Korean officials, but President Trump told Reuters, “Trying to negotiate with North Korea is a waste of time.” Also in a speech on Ronald Reagan’s aircraft carrier in Japan, John Richardson, commander of the Naval Operations Division of United States said that ships and gunboats from the East Pacific would be deployed to Asia to strengthen the navy in the area to counter growing threats. In the new US National Security Strategy about global threats to the United States, in addition to Russia, mention is made of China as well. Moreover, China has been named as a strategic rival to the United States.
As noted above, US officials seek to maintain security atmosphere in the rest of the world to increase arms sales to their partners and allies, as well as to reinforce the idea that the US presence in these areas is essential for the purpose of preserving a balance of power and security. In fact, by trying to gain maximum economic benefits from other countries, the United States is trying to strengthen its military power so that these countries would be forced to obey America in fear and out of necessity. Therefore, the expectation is that security zones in the world such as East Asia, West Asia, and even the Balkans will witness the continuation of the security crises and political differences.