Looking for America

(To Julian Carax)
23/02/21

The appearance of each new Stars and Stripes Administration on the international stage leads us to ask ourselves how American strategy could evolve in the medium - long term future, taking into account various elements: the political ones inherited from the Cold War, and those relating to excesses. the forced promotion of democracy 2.0.

Let's start with a fact: the USA was the scene of a dramatic election that questioned the ability to ensure internal stability useful for reaffirming an eminent role in the international arena; it is therefore essential that the government restart from economic - social, strategic policies to regain control of a menage tormented.

(recommended listening: America, Simon & Garfunkel)

Let's dive into realism. The new administration begins when the absence of truths is felt minds geopolitical to George Kennan; one cannot help but wonder if the USA is still able to impress its own strategy globally, and if concrete pragmatism rather than smoky and comfortable ideologies is not prevalent.

American lines of action in foreign policy are also based on the antagonisms of allies and partners, often considered useful geopolitical means, and have strengthened the conviction of having and being able to have a war instrument capable of supporting the manifest destiny of Washington in establishing and defending the rules of the international system.

La benevolent American hegemony, founded on the principles of primacy and deep commitment, and inserted in a planetary context considered anarchist, is based on strategies that require significant levels of military capability as well as conflicting policies towards other hegemons or aspiring ones, which leads to having to consider the propensity to use force to pursue national interests given that, the same moderate, they do not believe that a democratic and liberal international patchwork is sufficient to guarantee peace & interests; limiting the strategic range of action would mean adopting a offshore balancing1, which would take into consideration more prudent realist dictates, not isolationist but in any case protectionist, alien to the probabilism of progressive theories without concrete certification2; an example is the political conduct towards Europe, certainly less conflictual, but not for this compliant and in any case always with an eye to the historical partner, the United Kingdom, which, not surprisingly, has banned Huawei and 5G from its territory.

(recommended listening: Russians, Sting)

At the heart of the American strategy remain national interests, the assessment of internal needs and their impact on the budget, an analysis of looming threats, a together of beliefs about how turns the world (sic!); this is followed by the maintenance of the level of power, the defense of the national territory, the sovereignty, the security of citizens, the military capacity related to economic power: in short, an overwhelming overmatch which evaluates the defense of allies and partners both as a potential element of risk and as an intrinsic and exclusive strategic advantage to be exploited, and in relation to which a burning nuclear deterrence cannot be excluded, a topic now difficult for Russia, given the unsustainability of a valid arms race.

The American projection needs solid internal foundations, although it must now continue along a less expensive and more vulnerable orbit, especially in the MENA3: in the face of a latent orientation interventionist it will be essential to consider both the evolutions in progress and the internal priorities.

Biden, who received the icon from normal man, favors a structural and non-conjunctural multilateralism, which would prevent other hegemons (China) from establishing bilateral relations given the constant American negotiating presence; looks to European governance as an instrument of global stability, to economic relations with NATO, once again the cornerstone of American strategy; Europeans, with Joseph Robinette, a profound connoisseur of foreign policy, will have to Do more, given that 2% of GDP for defense spending remained on the plate, and given that China, an emerging antagonist who positively evaluated Biden's election, will require a strategic and not merely commercial posture that carefully controls technological4 and you censor the blatant denial of human rights. However, the understanding is clear: if the President wanted to change foreign policy, this would not be to the detriment of the middle class.

The man of Foggy Bottom designated to manage the partnership with Saudi Arabia, the complex alliance with Turkey, Tehran's nuclear aspirations, Israeli policy in the West Bank without resorting to restrictions on military aid, is the Wilsonian, pro-European and Israeli supporter Anthony Blinken, advocate of Comprehensive Engagement5 as well as the wide use of the soft power, and the first star in a political firmament that has seen the reappearance of several of Biden's other national security advisors present during his vice-presidential term; a collaborator remembered, among other things, for advising then Senator Biden on the vote pro invasion of Iraq in 2002, and for suggesting him to express his opposition to the establishment of a Kurdish state, without prejudice to the criticism following the withdrawal military ordered by Trump, a harbinger of the consequent Turkish offensives. The President has also already anticipated a reconfiguration of relations with Saudi Arabia, both by putting an end to the support given in Yemen by stopping the sale of weapons and precision missiles both in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi as an element of discontinuity with the past, but without giving terms of an end to the conflict, both in the evaluation of the consequences of the murder of the journalist J. Khashoggi.

Ironically, it was the other advisors of Blinken and Biden who urged Obama to support the Saudi air campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthis in order to allay Riyadh's indignation over the nuclear deal with Tehran.

(recommended listening: This is not America, P. Metheny and D. Bowie)

In any case, Biden's rise comes at a time marked by a pandemic crisis and internal problems that require the presence of the federal government with the reorganization of society around clear rules, and with a broad political consensus, which cannot be taken for granted. . A hypothesis that can be advanced is that which sees Biden induced to look at the 2008 crisis and at the Obama policies, with the increase of minimum wage6, with a package of measures that will have an inevitable impact on public debt, and with a question about the validity of executive orders that they do not create a republican obstructive reaction in the parliamentary sphere.

In any case, the President was clear: his first speech to the State Department, which curiously lacked any reference to Iran, placed diplomacy at the center of the political focus. In MO, American policy has maintained a strategic continuity followed by Trump, and which will be strengthened by Biden with less impulsive orientations and aimed at a detachment from the region without changing a geopolitical approach characterized by the flexibility highlighted by the Agreements of Abraham which, in representing a kind of transnational recognition of Tel Aviv, provide a post-American transformative factor; while in the spaces created by the agreements Russia, China and the regional powers Iran and Turkey could find insertion, Israel, which should not fear particular setbacks and which is interested in commercial exchanges with China and the UAE, would keep intact its faculty to operate in the Middle Eastern theater albeit in the face of a re-edition of the Palestinian problem. The agreements themselves would force the American partners to take on unprecedented defensive duties on their own, allowing Washington to dedicate itself to the Indo-Pacific area.

The Gulf countries will still be an objective problem attributable to Iran, despite the rapprochement between Riyadh and Doha, due to the evident support for the Houthi militias, and the pervasive moral suasion Iranian in Iraq. In Syria and Libya, Blinken could adopt a more pragmatic policy, observing the two scenarios as suitable spaces for the fight against terrorism and where to monitor Russia, China, Turkey, UAE and Egypt. Cairo fears that Blinken, unwilling to support authoritarian forces, on pain of losing the strategic centrality of Suez, could open a dialogue with the secular and religious oppositions, including the Muslim Brotherhood, to be followed by greater attention to the African continent in general , never been one of Washington's priorities, and yet so relevant in terms of resources7, the subject of contention with China.

Beyond this, in Africa, the transversal opposition with Moscow and Beijing could ignite the defense of human rights and the reformist aspirations of African society, equally interested in climate change as a multiplier of conflicts when considered in terms of food safety. To this is added the commitment in the fight against the rise of a jihadist brand.

(recommended listening: The Border, America)

The Asian continent will continue to occupy a central position, as Biden appears to be the natural heir to pivot to Asia of Obama; the focus will be on competition with a less flexible China than in the past, and towards which less bright tones will be held but still marked by rigor and which have already been reflected in the postponement indefinitely the lifting of duties, the nuclear agreement with Iran, the possible (and difficult) withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The multilateralist interpretation, in strengthening the traditional regional alliances with Japan, South Korea and India, could contribute to a strategy to contain Chinese expansion, also proposing itself as a commercial interlocutor; in short, a strategic compendium that will take into account the results of the policy conducted with North Korea, subject to revision, and which will lead the US to interpret the Asian region as a unicum extended from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

As for Iran, power left to grow up since Obama, the goal is to rejoin the JCPOA8, however, obtaining in exchange an (unlikely) interruption of the uranium enrichment activities by Tehran, interested in the change of the regional scenario, the consequences triggered by the economic sanctions imposed, and the Abrahamic Agreements; all within a general framework in which the ultra conservatives Pasdaran, ready to win the Presidency of the Islamic Republic, they seem unwilling to make concessions, eg, on the ballistic component supplied.

With the Kremlin, which strategically took a long time to recognize Biden's election, despite the assumptions that do not appear favorable, the American political vision could stand as a counterpart to Putin's more traditional conceptions which, with a change of course, and considering whether to opt for a dialoguing or merely aggressive policy may no longer feel forced to embrace the Dragon. Finally, the terrain of Russian-American competition will include the strengthening of the US role in NATO, with more incisive support for the governments of Ukraine and Georgia, and with the return of tensions regarding Donbass, Crimea and South Ossetia, obviously without forgetting either Belarusian protests nor disputes over the pipeline Nord Stream 2, regarding the attempt to increase US gas exports to Europe.

It is worth remembering how NATO could take a more rigid attitude, opposing Russia in the spaces where, according to the Gerasimov doctrine, it operates in terms of hybrid warfare. In this context, it cannot be excluded that Italy may be given a mandate to coordinate allied actions according to more concrete paradigms, in collaboration with Greece and, above all, while waiting to define the position of Turkey, which is increasingly in conflict with Atlantic interests.

(recommended listening: Downbound train, Bruce Springsteen)

Taking into account that even in Latin America there should be no significant changes, with the confirmation of support for the Venezuelan Guaidò, in summary the theater of American international relations, in a coherent context, requires varied and in any case difficult choices, where the philosophy of the stick and the carrot does not always find space.

Wrong ideological assessments, such as those advanced at the time of Soleimani's death, or the imminent fire of the MO following the recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital, have only contributed to raising the level of political entropy.

Blinken intends to lead the US to a liberal-internationalist vision, with elements of discontinuity that, in the indispensable continuity of the Middle East and the Pacific, may not prevail. The Comprehensive Engagement, while not disavowing deterrence e hard power, will bring the US back to reconsider the soft power, the ideological and moral aspects, with an inevitable impact with a multipolar reality that makes it increasingly difficult to preserve the leadership counting on strength of example.

In the next few years it will be possible to ascertain whether the Wilsonian idea, which has always been romantically fascinating, will prevail over the less poetic but more suitable realpolitik.

(recommended listening: An American story, Edoardo de Angelis)

1 Strategy in which a great power uses regional powers to control the rise of potentially hostile hegemons; it is at odds with the dominant strategic approach in the US, liberal hegemony. Offshore balancing requires great power to withdraw from onshore positions, focusing its offshore capabilities on the three main geopolitical regions: Europe, the Persian Gulf and Northeast Asia.

2 In this sense, the climate problem would rise to a greater importance than that covered by the emergence of a problematic regional hegemon

3 Middle East North Africa

4 5G

5 Global commitment

6 Minimum salary

7 Rare lands

8 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

Photo: US DoD / UK MoD / US Army / US Navy / US Air Force