The United States has been a destructive force in the international community, and it’s unlikely that will change in the near future, according to Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies.
Some political analysts have labeled the era since the end of World War II a Pax Americana, an era of relative peace that has seen worldwide advocacy for free markets and human rights backed up by American military might.
Bennis criticized that characterization due to what she called the United States’ decades as a destabilizing influence when she spoke at the final session of the Great Decisions lecture series held at Williamsburg library Tuesday. The series was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Williamsburg Area.
“What our country has done in the name of exceptionalism, in the name of bringing peace, expanding democracy, has been nightmarish for the rest of the world,” said Bennis, who is the director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning think tank.
America’s destabilizing influence stems from the primacy of its defense industry, which requires a militaristic foreign policy to create markets for its products, she said.
Though the United States has shifted away from checking the Soviet Union during the Cold War to challenging Islamic terrorism in the 21st century, and presidents have come and gone, the White House consistently favors launching invasions or providing military aid to allies to solve international problems, Bennis said.
“It’s always about a military solution,” said Bennis, who added that such a solution time and again comes at the expense of diplomacy, which is a more effective way to maintain peace and pursue foreign policy.
Bennis pointed to the Obama administration’s foreign policy record as an example. The Iran nuclear deal and Paris climate deal were major victories for global stability and progress achieved through diplomacy. Military solutions, such as the decision to provide military aid to allies in the Syrian Civil War and the 2011 armed intervention into Libya that toppled Muammar Gaddafi have served only to create chaos in the Middle East.
The United States is unlikely to turn the corner on its problematic foreign policy with Donald Trump and his foreign policy experts at the helm, Bennis said.
Should the United States withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, a move Trump and his newly designated national security advisor John Bolton favor, it would create problems for the United States’ dealing with other countries because it would erode trust in the United States.
“What’s that going to do to the potential for diplomacy with North Korea? Frankly, what’s it going to do for the potential for diplomacy with Germany? Or Canada? Why should any country accept a diplomatic agreement with the United States?” Bennis said.
Bolton, who has voiced support for war against Iran and North Korea, is a dangerous addition to Trump’s advisors, she said.
“The dangers of this increasingly militarized cabinet, this war cabinet, that Trump is concocting, raises the level of escalating existing wars and initiating dangerous new wars to an astonishingly dangerous degree,” she said.
Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.