Monday, 16 March 2009

Isolationist Imperialism

A brief Larison dose for you all. This time he's commenting on the seemingly infinite capacity for the American establishment to accept the difference between a country entering into an alliance with them, and that nation agreeing to a slavish devotion to America's whims across the board, no matter how objectively fucking mental they are.

As usual, the post is worth reading in full, but my favourite part is this:
More than that, it is not only that compromise that has been treated as virtual treason, but that allied disagreement has been viewed in the same way. In this cracked view, allies are supposed to understand that alliance is not a mutual relationship, they are not really our equals and they are supposed to do what they are told. Having deliberately built up a military supremacy and discouraged every European effort to develop its own parallel defense force, Washington then complains about the lack of military contributions from Europe; Washington wants Europeans to be pacific wards under our protection and auxiliaries in our wars, but it cannot have both. The most annoying consequence of these contradictory expectations is that it provokes a feeling of outrage at European “ingratitude,” when the core of anti-Europeanism is its profound ingratitude toward the nations from whom we received almost our entire civilization. Here is something else to ponder: had Washington defined Cold War-era relations with NATO allies by their willingness to back us in Vietnam, this contradiction in the U.S.-Europe relationship would have been exposed a long time ago. At the end of the Cold War, I think many in Washington perceived western Europeans as something akin to our deputies in policing the world, and these people have been continuously disappointed to find that European states have their own interests that do not necessarily fit this role.
It's always worth pointing out that even if a country wanted to do America's bidding whenever possible (and that certainly seems to British policy ever since Vietnam), this would be difficult to impossible because of America's tendency to pull in several different directions at once. This can be blamed on that country's refusal to consider international relationships holistically. Every problem is treated in total isolation, and the effectiveness of the whole suffers. This was especially acute under Bush, whose administration seemed absolutely determined not to consider the links between anything at all (this is the exact opposite of Wotan's problem which I keep banging on about, keeping all things separate makes applying power very easy, but pretty much guarantees disaster overall) but there's little reason at present to expect any truly great improvement regarding foreign policy under Obama.

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