By Patrick Martin
The Obama administration issued its National Security Strategy document Friday, ostensibly laying out the principles on which its foreign policy will be based for the final two years that Obama occupies the White House.
The document was presented by National Security Adviser Susan Rice at the Brookings Institution on Friday afternoon, no doubt aimed at focusing attention on US threats against Russia over Ukraine. The Obama administration is currently considering providing direct arms to the US-backed regime in Kiev, a move that could lead very quickly to a direct war with Russia, a nuclear-armed power.
Rice was introduced by the think tank’s president, Strobe Talbott, one of eight representatives of the US foreign policy establishment who issued an appeal earlier this week for the Obama administration to provide billions in arms for the right-wing regime in Ukraine established by last year’s fascist-led coup.
Echoing the document itself, Rice denounced “Russian aggression” in Ukraine, declaring its operations in the east of the country “a heinous and deadly affront to longstanding international law and norms.” She praised efforts “to impose steep political and economic costs on Russia,” adding that the US “will continue to turn up the pressure unless Russia decisively reverses course.”
In keeping with the style of the president, the document itself is full of bureaucratic mush that may put the unwary to sleep, anaesthetizing the reader to the deeper meaning of its insistence that the United States must remain the unchallenged global power. The New York Times counted more than 100 uses of the words “lead,” “leader” and “leadership” in the 29-page text.
The language of the report is deliberately evasive and misleading. Its 16,000 words do not include “drone” or “bomb.” There is one reference to “mass killing,” describing the actions of groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. “Deaths” are referred to three times, all caused by disease or poor nutrition, not US military operations.
These are not defects of composition or drafting, but intrinsic to the process of creating a document whose content is the product of protracted negotiations between the White House National Security Council, Pentagon, CIA and State Department. In other words, it is a lie from beginning to end, the collective product of rival groups of mass murderers and their lawyers and press spokesmen, who have labored to make the global strategy of American imperialism sound like the mission statement of a charity.
The document’s introduction lists eight “top strategic risks to our interests.” Four of them are traditional security issues—attacks on the US homeland, on US citizens or allies, weapons of mass destruction, and the collapse of failing states—but defined so generally that they could apply to any country in the world.
The other four strategic risks are worth quoting: “global economic crisis or widespread economic slowdown”; “severe global infectious disease outbreaks”; “climate change”; and “major energy market disruptions.” This has considerable significance: the US government now regards virtually any form of economic, social or environmental disruption as a strategic security issue potentially justifying American military intervention.
The introduction also includes a call for Congress to end limits on military spending that have been part of “sequestration,” a shift that has also been included in Obama’s recently proposed budget.
The introduction concludes by stating the principal shift in the orientation of US foreign policy from Bush to Obama (without referring to the previous administration):
“This strategy eschews orienting our entire foreign policy around a single threat or region. It establishes instead a diversified and balanced set of priorities appropriate for the world’s leading global power with interests in every part of an increasingly interconnected world.”
In other words, instead of the Bush administration’s obsessive focus on the Middle East, under Obama the entire world is the field of action for American bullying, up to and including military action. There is no country that the US does not consider part of its “backyard.”
Another area of attention was what the document describes as operations in “shared spaces”—cyber, air, oceans and outer space—which belong to no nation-state, but where US imperialism claims the right both to make rules and enforce them.
Two of the major sections of the document, titled “Prosperity” and “Values,” are particularly cynical, coming from the country that gave the world the 2008 financial crash, and the buildup of police-state methods, from torture to mass surveillance, over nearly two decades. Again the omissions are revealing: the document makes no reference to the National Security Agency and its program of global surveillance, gathering up the telecommunications and Internet traffic of the entire world’s population.
The document makes no reference to such spying, but the introductory section briefly rubber-stamps the operations of the vast US machinery of spying and surveillance: “All our tools are made more effective by the skill of our intelligence professionals and the quality of intelligence they collect, analyze, and produce.”
There are the usual claims about America being the great advocate of freedom and democracy around the world, before the document goes on to declare an exception to this rule: “Where our strategic interests require us to engage governments that do not share all our values, we will continue to speak out clearly for human rights and human dignity in our public and private diplomacy.”
These lines were a backhanded reference to the fact that the Obama administration is a principal prop of the Egyptian military junta (“we will maintain strategic cooperation with Egypt to enable it to respond to shared security threats”) and the monarchy in Saudi Arabia.
The name of the latter country does not appear in the document, but Saudi Arabia has been at the center of recent revelations documenting its extensive funding for Al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalist organizations, at the behest of US imperialism. Nor does the word “Gaza” appear, where Israeli forces armed and equipped by the United States killed more than 2,000 people last summer, at least 500 of them children.