Marwen Bouassida Counterpunch interventionism .pdf



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NO VEM BER 22, 2 016

Does Clinton’s Defeat Mean the
Decline of US Interventionism?
by MARWEN BOUASSIDA

T
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Photo by The U.S. Army | CC BY 2.0

Carthage, Tunisia.
No one knows what the future will bring. Yet, many observers
have been quick to announce the decline of American
interventionism and the revival of isolationism–the end of an

BOO
KS

era and the beginning of another.
CounterPunch Magazine
Rightly
or wrongly, Hillary Clinton’s defeat by Donald Trump

fuels this prediction, which depresses some and delights
other. The conflicted responses to Trump’s victory, based on
ideological interests and values, register even within families.
However, the most dramatic split reactions to Trump’s victory
are exemplified by the left’s reception—liberal or socialist—in
the global North versus the global South. If the North reacted
Subscribe!
to Trump’s
victory with suffocated apprehension, the South
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experienced it as a breath of fresh air, not out of sympathy for
Trump but as a rejection of Clinton.
The global South associates the name of Clinton—Bill or
Hillary—with the heralds of humanitarian intervention. If the
discourse of humanitarianism seduced the North, it has not
been so in the South, even less in the Near and Middle East,
which no longer believe in it. The patent humanitarian
disasters in Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have disillusioned
them.
It is in this sense that Trump’s victory is felt as a release, a
hope for change, and a rupture from the policy of Clinton,
Bush, and Obama. This policy, in the name of edifying nations
(“nation building”), has destroyed some of the oldest nations
and civilizations on earth; in the name of delivering wellbeing, it has delivered misery; in the name of liberal values, it
has galvanized religious zeal; in the name of democracy and
human rights, it has installed autocracies and Sharia law.
Who is to blame?
Did the United States not know that intervening in “the lands
of Islam” would act as a catalyst for Jihad? Was it by chance
that the United States intervened only in secular states,

turning them into manholes of religious extremism? Is it a
coincidence that these interventions were and are often
supported by regimes that sponsor political Islam?
Conspiracy theory, you say? No, these are historical facts.
Can the United States not learn from history, or does it just
doom itself to repeat it? Does it not pose itself the question of
how al-Qaeda and Daesh originated? How did they organize
July 27, 2017Who trained them? What is their mobilizing
themselves?

discourse? (1) Why is the US their target? None of this seems
EDWARD CURTIN

The
Deep State,
Now
to
matter
to the
US: all it cares about is projecting its own
and Then

idealism. (2)

MELVIN GOODMAN

The Myth of
American
The
death of thousands
Exceptionalism

of people in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya or

Syria, has it contributed to the well being of these peoples? Or
NOZOMI HAYASE

From the
Watergate
toStates perhaps respond to this question in the
does
United
Russiagate: the

manner
of Madeleine
Albright, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of
Hidden Scandal
of
American Power

State, who regretted the death of five-hundred-thousand Iraqi
KENNETH SURIN

children,
deprived of medications by the American embargo,
Come Fly the
Unfriendly Skies

to conclude with the infamous sentence, “[But] it was worth
ANDRE VLTCHEK

it?”
Philippines: Western
Media is Distorting
Reality, People and
Was
worth
ArmyitUnite
to it that
Battle “ISIS”

people came to perceive humanitarian

intervention as the new crusades? Was it worth it that they
ROBERT FISK

now
perceive
as a pagan, pre-Islamic model,
Out of
the Ruinsdemocracy
of
Aleppo: a Syrian
abjured
by their belief? Was it worth it that they now perceive
Community Begins

to Rebuild as deviating believers from the “true” path? Was it
modernity

ANDREW
worth
thatMOSS
they now perceive human rights as human
What is Adelanto?

standards
THOMAS as contrary to the divine will? Was it worth it that
MOUNTAIN

people
now perceive secularism as atheism whose defenders
Free Speech or
Terror
TV? Al
are
punishable
by beheading?
Jazeera’s Support
for ISIS and Al Queda

Have
universal
values become a problem rather than a
ROBERT
J. - BYERS
Jamboree Travesty
solution?
What then to think of making war in their name?

Has humanitarian intervention become punishment rather

THOMAS KNAPP
Send in the Clown:

than
help? Versus
Scaramucci
the Leakers

ROBSouth
SEIMETZ
The
has understood where the North has not: the
Because the Night

selective
of humanitarian interventions reflects their
Belonged nature
to Us in St.
Petersburg (Florida)

punitive nature; sanctions go to non-client regimes;
PAUL CANTOR

interventions
Momentum Not seem
Mojo to be a new excuse for the hegemonic
PATRICK WALKER
ambitions
of the United States and its allies; they are a new
In Defense of Caitlin

rationale
NATO
Johnstonefor
(Part
Two) after the collapse of the Soviet Union;
they are a way to suppress Russia and deprive it of its zones of
July 26, 2017

influence. (3)
JOHN W.

What
a far-sighted motion was that of the coalition of the
WHITEHEAD
Policing for Profit:

countries
of the
Jeff Sessions
& Third World (G77) at the Havana Summit in
Co.’s Thinly
Veiled its rejection of any intervention, including
2000!
It declared
Plot to Rob Us Blind

humanitarian,
which did not respect the sovereignty of the
PETE DOLACK
Trump’s
Restates
concerned.
(4) This was nothing other than a rejection
Negotiation Proposal

Will
Make
NAFTA
of
the
Clinton
Doctrine, announced in 1999, in the wake of the
Worse

war of Kosovo, which made “humanitarian intervention” the
GEORGE

CAPACCIO
new
bedrock, or perhaps the new facade, of the foreign policy
“Beauty of Our

of
the United
States.
Weapons”
in the
War It was the same policy followed and
on Yemen

developed by Hillary Clinton during her tenure as secretary of
RAMZY BAROUD

state.
(5)Trepidation
Fear and
in Tel Aviv: Is Israel
Losing the Syrian
The
War?end of interventionism?

JOHN MCMURTRY

Brexit
But
areCounterClinton’s defeat and Trump’s accession to power
Revolution Still in

sufficient
reasons to declare the decline of interventionism?
Motion
TED RALL
The Democrats
Donald
TrumpAre
is a nationalist, whose rise has been the result
A Lost Cause

of a coalition of anti-interventionists within the Republican
TOM GILL

Is Macron
Already
Party.
They
profess a foreign policy that Trump has
Faltering?

summarized
in these words: “We will use military force only
ED KEMMICK
Empty
Charges
in
cases
of vital necessity to the national security of the United
Erode Trust in

States.
will put an end to attempts of imposing democracy
MontanaWe
Elections
and overthrowing regimes abroad, as well as involving

ourselves in situations in which we have no right to
intervene.” (6)
But drawing conclusions about the foreign policy of the
United States from unofficial statements seems simplistic. At
the moment of this writing, any speculation as to the policy
choices of Trump’s foreign policy is premature. One can’t
predict his policy with regard to the Near and Middle East,
since he has not yet even formed his cabinet. Moreover,
presidents in office can change their tune in the course of
their tenure. The case of George W. Bush provides an
excellent example.
Like Donald Trump, George W. Bush was a conservative
Republican non-interventionist. He advocated “America
First,” called for a more subdued foreign policy and adopted
Colin Powell’s realism “to attend without stress” (7) with
regard to the Near and Middle East. But his policy shifted to
become the most aggressive and most brutal in the history of
the United States. Many international observers argue that
this shift came as a response to the September 11 attacks, but
they fail to note that the aggressive germs already existed
within Bush’s cabinet and advisers: the neo-conservatives
occupied key functions in his administration. (8)
Up until now, Trump’s links with the neo-cons remain
unclear. The best-known neo-cons, Paul Wolfowitz, William
Kristol, and Robert Kagan, appear to have lost their bet by
supporting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. But others, less
prominent or influential, seem to have won it by supporting
Trump: Dick Cheney, Norman Podhoretz, and James
Woolsey, his adviser and one of the architects of the wars in
the Middle East.
These
indices show that nothing seems to have been gained by
REV. WILLIAM
ALBERTS

the South, still less by the Near and Middle East. There
appears to be no guarantee that the situation will improve.
The non-interventionism promised by Trump may not
necessarily equate to a policy of isolationism. A noninterventionist policy does not automatically mean that the
United States will stop protecting their interests abroad,
strategic or otherwise. Rather, it could mean that the United
States will not intervene abroad except to defend their own
interests, unilaterally–and perhaps even more
aggressively. Such a potential is implied in Trump’s promise
to increase the budget for the army and the military-industrial
complex. Thus, it is more realistic to suppose that as long as
the United States has interests in the countries of the South
and the Near and Middle East, so long it will not hesitate to
intervene.
In this context, Clinton’s defeat and Trump’s accession are not
sufficient reasons to declare the decline of interventionism—
the end of an era and the beginning of another. The political
reality is too complex to be reduced to statements by a
presidential candidate campaigning for election, by an elected
president, or even by a president in the course of performing
his office.
No one knows what the future will bring.
(Translated from the French by Luciana Bohne)
Works Cited
1 The Declaration of 77 South Summit, Havana – Cuba, 10 –
14 April 2000:
http://www.g77.org/summit/Declaration_G77Summit.htm
2 See : Diana Johnstone, Queen of Chaos : The
Attitudes Towards

misadventure of Hillary Clinton, CounterPunch, 2015.
3 Actualité : « Trump mettra fin aux ingérences US s’il est
élu », Suptniknews (Novembre 04, 2016) En ligne :
http://sptnkne.ws/cBzJ

Saving Illinois:
Getting More Bang
for the State’s Bucks

4 Gilles Kepel, Fitna : Guerre au cœur de l’islam, Gallimard,
2004, p.90.
5 Ted Galen Carpenter, “Donald Trump’s foreign policy:
What will he really do?” The National Interest (Novembre 12,
2016) Online: http://nationalinterest.org/blog/theskeptics/donald-trumps-foreign-policy-what-will-he-reallydo-18378
6 Sputniknews, « Trump mettra fin aux ingérences US s’il
est élu », Novembre 04, 2016. http://sptnkne.ws/cBzJ (last
seen: November 17, 2016)
7 Gilles Kepel, Fitna : Guerre au cœur de l’islam, Gallimard,
2004, p.90
8 Ted Galen Carpenter, “Donald Trump’s foreign policy:
What will he really do?”, The National Interest, Novembre 12,
2016 http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/donaldtrumps-foreign-policy-what-will-he-really-do-18378 (last
seen: Novembre 17, 2016)
Join the debate on Facebook
More articles by: MARWEN BOUASSIDA
Marwen Bouassida is a researcher in international law at North
African-European relations, University of Carthage, Tunisia. He
regularly contributes to the online magazine Kapitalis.
CounterPunch
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