21 Αυγούστου 2016

Our Foreign Policy Choices – Rethinking America’s Global Role – Cato Institute, Washington D.C.

Source: Andrew Leung International Consultants Ltd

Released in the heat of current US Presidential Election campaigns, this timely 113-page Report  is prepared by top foreign policy experts at the Cato Institute with the unspoken intention of influencing the thinking of the upcoming new US Administration.
Overall, the Report advances the case for restraint, translating into (a) the US should not seek to solve all of the world’s problems and (b) the US should be wary of using military force to promote American interests across the globe. 
The case of restraint is reflective of bipartisan dynamics revealed by recent polls : 38 % of Americans favor restraint against 25% in favor of interventionism. This follows on a 2014 finding of the Chicago Council for Global Affairs : 70% of Americans are convinced that neither the US intervention in Iraq nor Afghanistan is worth the costs.
In some measure, it also resonates with some of the Trump campaign rhetoric, particularly as regards the requirement of allies' burden-sharing and the value of NATO. This means that whosoever wins the White House, the considerations embodied in this expert Report are likely to have at least some bearing on the future direction of American foreign policy. 
The following arguments and recommendations in the Report are instructive –
US Primacy
  • Regime change by force at great costs of blood and treasure has not produced satisfactory results.
  • Threats of regime change by force may backfire e.g. North Korea
  • Primacy can be undermined by over-extension.
  • US military dominance will endure even with military moderation.
  • There are many areas of smart military savings without undermining overall American military dominance.
China and South China Sea
  • US should move from containment to deterring armed conflicts with China.
  • US should deploy Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) sparingly.
  • Avoid formal or informal security guarantees over territorial claims of limited strategic interests to the US.
  • US should promote burden-sharing with allies e.g. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan
  • US should advocate peaceful resolution of territorial disputes.
  • US should promote cross-strait peace and stability. But “likelihood of American military intervention on Taiwan’s behalf is diminishing as China’s military capabilities increase”. US should continue to sell asymmetric arms to Taiwan to enhance its capabilities for self-defense. Eventually, “US should end any commitment, implicit or otherwise, to use military force to defend Taiwan”.
  • US-China relations is not a zero-sum game. For example, US should cooperate with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to promote higher standards.
Korean Peninsula
  • US nuclear umbrella remains necessary but South Korea is more than capable of defending herself against North Korea’s conventional forces.
  • US should therefore reduce troop deployment in South Korea, which is counter-productive in reducing tension.
  • China is not happy with a recalcitrant North Korea but resists regime change for fear of regional geopolitical instability including deployment of US forces near China’s borders.
  • North Korea is beginning to see green shoots of a subdued market economy. So the US should work with China to engage rather than confront North Korea.
  • Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), the US nuclear deal with Iran, will expire in 10-15 years, following which Iran will remain subject to strictures of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • JCPoA is not perfect but permits intrusive robust inspection compared with leaky sanctions. US abrogation not an option, particularly in view of recent EU trade deals with Iran.
  • Iran unlikely to give up expansion of Shiite influence. Better for US to work on Iran through mutual confidence-building and limited cooperation.
  • Almost a lost cause. Obama’s temporary troop surge shows limited results. Air strikes and drone attacks not a sustainable strategy. Taliban seized control of Kunduz, Afghanistan’s 5th largest city in September 2015.
  • Afghanistan remains a safe haven for anti-US terrorism.
  • Need to retain residual force of 5,000 to 10,000 US soldiers mainly to train up Afghanistan’s own defense capabilities with binding commitment for complete withdrawal by 2020.
  • Russia is no more than a regional power with limited ability for power projection globally.
  • Russian aggression in Eastern Europe is a response to expansion of NATO near its border in apparent violation of Cold War promise.
  • Russian annexation of Crimea and its East European resurgence not threatening US homeland security.
  • US refrains from military intervention in Ukraine for fear of escalation. Decision not to supply arms as Ukraine is incompetent and corrupt.
  • Sanctions often inflict upon the Russian people. Need to target sanctions more precisely against Russian military enhancement.
  • Limited cooperation with Russia possible on various fronts e.g. Syria.
  • Too much free-riding on US. Most NATO members, including Germany, fail to meet their own military obligations e.g. at least 2% GDP on defense and 20% of defense expenditure on equipment.
  • “US Indispensable Nation” concept is obsolete in Europe which is three times Russia’s population and 10 times its GDP.
  • US should move from rhetoric on burden-sharing with to burden-shifting to Europe.
  • US should refrain from military intervention for weak states too small to be relevant to US military interests e.g. Montenegro.
  • US should re-consider support of some NATO members becoming authoritarian if not "Neo-Fascist" e.g. Hungary and Turkey
  • Risks of nuclear showdown with Russia over Baltic States incommensurate.
  • US should gradually withdraw American military forces in Europe to force European nations to develop independent defense capabilities.
  • In the long term, US should consider significant dilution or even elimination of Article V provision that an attack on one NATO member constitutes an attack on all”. “Policy should likewise consider whether US interests are actually best served by remaining within the alliance.”
US Presidential power to wage war
  • Need to limit Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) conferred on US President immediately after 9/11, which is being extended ad infinitum by successive Presidents in a variety of interventions e.g. Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, ISIS etc.

Source: Cato Institute

In 2016 inflation-adjusted dollars, military spending—both war and nonwar—averaged $606 billion per year during President George W. Bush's two terms in office; under President Barack Mama, it has averaged $668 billion. And no state can match US. global power projection capabilities. By the end of this year, the United States will have spent nearly $500 billion more in the period 2009-2016 than in the period 2001-2008. Meanwhile, U.S. debt soars unsustainably toward $20 trillion. The United States spends at least as much on its military as the next 10 countries worldwide, including some US. allies, and nearly three times more than China and Russia combined.

• America's current foreign policy approach—primacy (or global hegemony)—is excessively costly, built on flawed assumptions, and ultimately counterproductive for American safety.

• Primacy increases the likelihood that the United States will be drawn into wars unconnected to our security.

• The United States needs an alternative foreign policy, one that maintains a superior defense capability that focuses on advancing America's security while expecting other countries to take more responsibility for challenges in their respective regions.

U.S. foreign policy should be focused on the goal of keeping America strong and safe. Unfortunate, since World War II, the United States has followed a foreign policy aimed at the quixotic goal of primacy, or global hegemony, which is both difficult and costly to sustain while being frequently disconnected from American security needs.

Introduction: Why Do We Need Foreign Policy Alternatives?
1. The Problem with Primacy, by Christopher Preble and William Ruger
2. Restrained Strategy, Lower Military Budgets, by Benjamin H. Friedman
3. China and East Asia, by Ted Galen Carpenter and Eric Gomez
4. The Korean Peninsula, by Doug Bandow
5. The Islamic State (ISIS), by Emma Ashford
6. Iran, by Bradford Stapleton
7. Afghanistan, by Bradford Stapleton
8. Russia, by Emma Ashford
9. NATO Policy, by Ted Galen Carpenter
10. The Western Hemisphere, by Ted Galen Carpenter
11. Balancing Privacy and Security: Cyber Policy, by Austin Long and Brendan Rittenhouse Green
12. Maintaining U.S. Energy Security, by Eugene Gholz
13. Evaluating the Terrorism Threat to the United States, by John Mueller
14. Rethinking Drone Warfare, by Benjamin H. Friedman
15. Reclaiming the War Power, by Gene Healy
16. The Restraint Constituency and U.S. Foreign Policy, by A. Trevor Thrall
17. Practical Rules for U.S. Military Intervention Abroad, by Christopher Preble