I have just read through the new United States National Security Strategy released by President Trump in December 2017. There have been many comments on it most of them focusing on the hostility in the document towards Russia and China but also some question of what the Strategy is. Well, after reading page after page of delusions, bombast, bragging, bullying, lies, fantasies and deep-seated megalomania, you discover that there is no strategy. They don’t have one. The only use that document has is as irrefutable evidence that the government of the United States is what they like to call a Joint Criminal Enterprise intent on seizing control of the world for its sole interests. Fortunately, they have, apparently, no idea how they are going to achieve that goal except through war, war, and more war, and if that doesn’t work some more war until they collapse from exhaustion, like a mad, rabid dog.
But it’s clear who they are afraid of and so show their weakness. China and Russia make them nervous. And, if I were an adviser to the government of Pakistan, I’d say “watch your back, more trouble is coming.” Other nations that still have a backbone, the usual list, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, the defiant ones, are like an itch they can’t scratch, and the written scowls in this document are meant to make them shake in their boots but only make you laugh. And, oh, for the rest of the world, it’s, “Do what you’re told, make us money, don’t get in the way, and keep your mouth shut, but love us, love us, love us, make sure you love us.”
As Milton said, they want us to bow and sue for grace with suppliant knee, and deify their power, to bring us low indeed. For to be weak is to be miserable and we’re meant to be miserable. That’s their intent. It’s so bad that it’s easy to feel that nations can act only contrary to their will just to maintain self-respect. But our nations are not controlled by the mass of the people, instead, by factions and cliques of the class with the money who control the machinery of the governments so we see little of that, acting contrary Washington’s will, that is.
There once was a time when working people were on the move, had confidence in themselves, created their own leaders, their own heroes and heroines, their own philosophy, their own ideas of democracy, of society, of their conditions and how to overturn the old brutality of the capitalist system and establish new conditions favourable to us. But failures and betrayals have sapped the energy, weakened the will, created confusions and illusions, turned sister against brother, wounded the solidarity of our class, and pitted people against people in war after war solely to advance the quest for profit. As Milton asked, ‘How can we overcome this dire calamity, what reinforcement can we gain from hope, resolution from despair’ when we are faced with a society that, having brought its own people to ruin, is now committed to bringing ruin and humiliation to the rest of the world?
But all is not lost and rise we will again. The countries and peoples that resist are the proof before us that the omnipotence of the empire is illusory as all empires, based on power and fear, are. The resurgence of working class parties and movements is a fact. Things are happening. If we can find our way out of the maze they have created around us by dividing us into a thousand self interests, special interests, “identity” interests, gender interests, dividing us by religion, skin colour, accent, level of pay, nationality and ethnicity, and all the other things they use to get us opposed to each other, if we can make working people comprehend their own power once united, to see that anyone who works for a living is the brother and sister of all others who must do the same, then the resistance moves to a more concrete level.
But can the people of the world win over a United States that has the power, with its allies, to dominate the world? When we consider the destructive forces they unleash when they don’t get their way it might seem futile to consider it. But the economic power of the USA is in fast decline, its people are increasingly impoverished and increasingly killing each other, the police are murderous, justice corrupted, the government a debacle, the leadership made up of generally right wing criminals, gangsters, and confidence men, their armed forces both corrupted and motivated by immoral, not moral, purposes and their economic system profits a few on the backs of the many the world over. They themselves must know this.
So one would think that when the President of the United States sits down with his advisors and asks them about these problems and to come up with an American national strategy to resolve them that they would take that task seriously and get together all the best scientists, doctors, sociologists, psychologists, economists, philosophers, poets, and artists, writers and musicians, engineers, trades people, committees of locally chosen working people and, of course military men interested in maintaining a continuum of peace instead of war. But on reading the new Strategy document you find that all these people are missing.
It is so bad that even the organ of the Council of Foreign Relations, the journal, Foreign Affairs, stated that,
“The document, an attempt to turn Trump’s “America First” instincts into a foreign policy doctrine, has failed to align ambitious ends with ways and means; to prioritize among objectives; and to convey actual presidential intent. Those criticisms are well founded. But the flaws don’t just stem from the failures of the Trump administration; they also serve as an extreme reminder of what has gone wrong with the entire endeavor of the NSS—problems that predate the Trump era.
The NSS is supposed to map out a strategy, but over time, the project has devolved into a rhetorical exercise, characterized by grandiose ambitions and laundry lists of priorities. Rather than forcing the U.S. government to engage in serious strategic planning, it has become a case study in the failure to do so.”
The problem for one faction of the American elite speaking through that statement is not that the goal of domination of the world by America is wrong but that the goal is not accompanied by any rational means of achieving that domination. But for us in the larger world affected by American ambition and aggression the problem is not the failure to set out the means to achieve the objective but the injustice, immorality, chauvinism, and brutality inherent in the objective. The reason the United States leadership cannot formulate a strategy is not because they are incompetent but because strategy and objective are intertwined so that the objective is the cause of all the terrible consequences that they promise their citizens their objective is meant to deal with. They want to “make America great” but to do that they have to make things worse. It’s inherent in their logic and so long as the driving force behind all of this is not abandoned, the drive for profit, and replaced with the driving force to provide peoples needs, so long will the world continue to suffer war, poverty, injustice and ecological catastrophe.
The creation of a new world order in which the United States is keeper of the keys has been a consistent objective since post-colonial days. The idea is not a new one. With limited power it set a limited objective; expansion of their control across the western hemisphere and so, the invasion of Canada in 1812-14 which gave them a bloody nose, the ethnic cleansing of the first nations peoples from the eastern seaboard and territories east of the Mississippi River in the 1820’s to 50’s, the seizure of Texas by its agents in 1836, the invasion of Mexico in 1846 and seizure of vast territories it still occupies through a treaty forced out of the Mexicans at the point of their bayonets, the Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny; this was the road to empire and colonial power they took that only slowed when the United States split itself into two countries that then engaged in a savage war at the conclusion of which the United States defeated and occupied the territories of the Confederate States, and to justify the occupation characterised the international war as a civil war, the now accepted view.
But with their rising economic power based to a large extent not only on its own resources but the exploitation of the resources of the western hemisphere, the war with Spain, seizure of The Philippines and Hawaii, and the bankrupting of Britain, France and Germany and the Ottomans in the First World War, the United States saw its way towards global power and has never abandoned its ambitions even though its achievement meant the misery of its people and all those peoples who had to suffer its actions.
To make America great means to reduce every other nation to its vassal. The very idea is a repudiation of the international law. The Charter of the United Nations, in its preamble states,
“We the peoples of the United Nations” …that’s how it starts off; not “we the nations or governments” but “we the people” and it states that we are determined,
“to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our life-time has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
‘to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
‘to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
‘to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
AND FOR THESE ENDS
To practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors, and
‘to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and
to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that
‘armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and
to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples.”
Articles 1 and 2 repeat that the purpose of the UN is to achieve friendly relations among nations bases on mutual respect achieved through international cooperation in solving problems and the elimination of the use of threats of force against the territory or political independence of any state. That is the law.
The UN Charter is part of the law of the United States, as with all other member states, and so any national strategy that attempts to achieve American dominance over other nations is not only a violation of international law but of US domestic law as well.
Article 5 provides a mechanism whereby a nation that is in persistent violation of the Principles set out in the Charter may be expelled from the UN by the General Assembly. The problem in this case is that this can only be done on recommendation of the Security Council of which the United States is the dominant power. But the legal argument could be made that since the USA has been in persistent violation of the principles of the Charter since 1945 and since it cannot be judge in its own cause it then the other members of the Security Council have the right, without the United States, to make the recommendation to the General Assembly. It would be interesting to see, if it could ever be taken to that level, whether the United States leadership would try to justify its many wars before that body or just give up the game and continue on its way as the truly rogue state it is. But since they do not allow a nation such as North Korea to defend its position before the Security Council in the face of false allegations made against it in the Security Council, nor allow the North Koreans to question them in the Security Council on the reasons for their hypocrisy, but act as prosecutor, judge and executioner at one and the same time, then I don’t see any reason to give the United States the chance to defend itself. But if they want to hire me as counsel, I would consider it, if they were wiling to plead guilty.
So I will end this with the question whether the people of the United States want to see a national strategy that sets out the ways and means of achieving an ambition of world dominance, or rather a different strategy for a different ambition, the one the rest of the world wants them to have; the ambition to be a nation that adheres to and believes in the founding principles of the United Nations Charter and more, the Principles of the Non Aligned Movement, of sovereignty of nations, mutual trust and respect, rejection of war and a commitment to socio-economic justice and international social solidarity for all the peoples of the world. To ask the question of course provides the answer.
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel “Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”