US foreign policy has received the least attention in the 2016 elections. When it has been mentioned, the majority of candidates have merely repeated dogma such as “Russian aggression” and the existential threat of “terrorism.” Only Donald Trump has deviated from the Washington consensus, questioning the legitimacy of NATO and US belligerence toward China and Russia. Yet even his comments do not go far enough to expose the true motivations behind US foreign policy. The carnage, chaos, and catastrophe of US foreign policy are driven by the interests of capitalism.
Investor wealth and capitalist profit are the motivating forces of US foreign policy. US foreign policy can be divided into two different, but related, policies. The first policy is direct military intervention by sanction, proxy, or invasion on sovereign countries. The second is indirect military intervention through the deployment of military bases, command centers, and intelligence operations to countries already under the boot of US hegemony. Both policies are geared toward creating favorable conditions in the target country for the supremacy of US capital.
The US invasion of Iraq is the most blatant examples of the mutual relationship between US foreign policy and the profit motive. Prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Iraqi government was the sole owner and distributor of the nation’s vast oil resources. The destabilization of the Iraqi state opened the door to privatization. Over 80 percent of Iraq’s oil is currently exported out of the country under the terms of contracts wielded by corporations such as Exxon and Chevron. A quarter of Iraq’s population now lives in poverty as basic services have become a luxury. Additionally, it was estimated in 2013 that defense contractors raked in 138 billion dollars worth of contracts from Washington as a consequence of the war.
“Defense” and oil corporations require the destruction of the sovereign nations such as Iraq to expand market share. Once a nation is compliant, US foreign policy shifts gears away from direct military rule to indirect. In South Korea, for example, the US maintains an estimated 28,000 US troops to prevent the reunification of the Koran state. The US has nearly 1,000 military bases around the world. Most of the operations conducted by these military installations carry the sole purpose of maintaining oppressive but compliant governments in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
The most important measure of compliance is whether a government is run by puppets willing to do the bidding of US capital. If not, then the state in question is subject to US-sponsored destabilization. At the present moment, there are two powerful nations that stand in the way of full spectrum dominance of US capital. Russia and China have been the prime targets of US foreign policy. US multinational corporations and banks see Russia and China as the primary obstacles to unfettered global exploitation and profit accumulation.
Russia’s vast energy resources are exported by state-owned companies such as Gazprom. China’s socialist economy is heavily comprised of state-owned industries. Through aggressive national development, China has become the largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power. Russia and China have attracted lucrative economic relationships with nations all over the world. Russia has taken the initiative to form the Eurasian Economic Union which calls continental trade integration. Similarly, China has been developing an economic infrastructure project called the “New Silk Road.” This project, which most notably involves the development of a transnational railway connecting China to Russia and the European market, is estimated to cost 1 trillion USD in foreign investment.
The strategic plans of Russia and China have the US scrambling all over the globe to ensure the world remains locked into the exploitative grips of US multinational corporations. Washington’s Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, the TPP, is the counter response to the rise of China. It includes provisions that allow corporations to sue participating states should their governments do anything to impede corporate profit. The US has instituted a “pivot” to Asia to create the military conditions necessary for such a trade deal. The US pivot has virtually encircled China militarily with partnerships in the Philippines, Guam, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.
The US has conducted a similar policy of encirclement with regards to Russia. A ten day NATO exercise called operation Anaconda began on June 6th in Poland. The operation comprised of thirty thousand troops from twenty four countries. Furthermore, the US has supported the reactionary proxy war in Ukraine that rendered the country ungovernable. Military installations such as AFRICOM and NATO have as their main targets Russia and China. In Africa, the expansion of AFRICOM to all countries on the continent but two has come in direct response to China becoming the world’s largest investor in African wealth. The 2011 US-NATO war on Libya was conducted to prevent the Libyan government from moving forward with plans to unify the continent around a single gold currency.
Yet despite the commitment on the part of the US to deploy its military around the world to protect the interests of capital, the economic system of capitalism remains mired in crisis. US GDP continues to slow and stall. US influence around the world is increasingly being seen by millions as parasitic and a fetter on real production. The US capitalist system has reached a stage of terminal decline, whereby its own need to revolutionize technology in order to increase profit has actually sent profit into a downward spiral. Billions of workers globally either work in low-wage jobs or no jobs at all. This is the world that US foreign policy protects. A new world will require a coordinated global movement led by the oppressed to suppress the forces of capital that dictate US foreign policy.