We are continuing to publish on our site the fragments from the book AMERICA’S PLANS FOR WORLD HEGEMONY, by Romanian author Calistrat M. Atudorei which was published in English version very recently by printing house ”ePublishers” in Bucharest.
Chapter 7/2. Plans to Maintain Unipolarity
Preventive Attack Strategy
On September 17, 2002, a new US National Security Strategy had been published. Derived from the Wolfowitz Plan, this strategy stated that the US will no longer tolerate any potential global challenge. According to Benjamin Barber, professor at the University of Maryland, the foundation of the strategy can be identified in a PNAC report called “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.”
The new security strategy had as starting point the conjuncture of September 11, 2001 attacks and marked America’s radical shift from a relatively defensive position to a highly offensive one. In order to never allow again being threatened by “rogue states,” the US administration set the goal of remaining the most powerful force in the world. In line with the National Security Strategy Report published in September 2002, the Pentagon continued to argue that “US should do everything possible to maintain its position as the sole Superpower by maintaining a military capability that was so far ahead of potential rivals that those states would not seek to compete.”24
The 2002 strategy raises the method of “preventive attack” on an official level and claims that “We cannot let our enemies strike first.” I consider it necessary to note that this strategy in fact transgresses the traditional defense doctrine of international law. Thus, Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations states that a member of the UN can resort to military action only in legitimate self-defense, and this military response to an aggression will only last until the Security Council intervenes as soon as possible:
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.25
In other words, it is not permissible to attack a state that did not take any hostile action against another, and of whom one may only suppose that it could plan an aggression. Because those suppositions may be unfounded.
Notwithstanding this violation of art. 51 of the UN Charter, on March 17, 2003, US has gone ahead by putting in practice the strategy when President Bush announced that US troops began invasion of Iraq, even though the United Nations did not approve this action. Bush said on that occasion that “the security of the world requires Saddam Hussein’s disarmament now”26 and waiting for one more minute would mean “suicide” in America’s view.
Based on this strategy, the White House officially announced that “Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.”27 Surely, the term “potential adversaries” was assimilated in that context with the terrorist threat, but we can see that its meaning is much broader and in fact targets other states because only they could have the ability to equate the power of the United States, and not at all terrorist organizations.
The White House’s 2002 National Security Strategy had been described by John Ikenberry—a well-known theorist of international relations—as “a grand strategy [that] begins with a fundamental commitment to maintaining a unipolar world in which the United States has no peer competitor.” In line with Ikenberry, this approach “renders international norms of self-defense enshrined by Article 51 of the UN Charter almost meaningless.”28
In other words, it can be outlined the important conclusion that since September 2002 the United States announced that it no longer tolerates any competitor for global hegemony, and at the same time, any state that does not respect the line imposed by the United States may become a target for the latter.
As provided for in a study29 published by analyst John Lewis Gaddis, the Bush Doctrine is rooted in the principles elaborated by the most militant Pentagon strategist at that time, Paul Wolfowitz. The basic elements of the Bush Doctrine structure the so-called Prevention War Strategy, which I referred to earlier and which is often quoted as the main version of Bush Doctrine.
Professor Christopher Muscato of Northen Colorado University states that Bush Doctrine “refers to four main points that outline how Bush and his administration responded to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.”30
The first point refers to “attacking countries harboring terrorism.” Quoting President Bush, Muscato recalls his statement that the United States would “make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” and “any nation harboring terrorists will be treated by the United States as aggressor.”31
The second point refers to the concept of “Pre-Emptive Attacks.” Thus, the Bush Doctrine stated that “the United States would not wait for another attack, and would not wait for nations containing terrorists to deal with this issue on their own.”32
Thirdly, Bush Doctrine highlights the need for “fighting overseas.” The objective was explained by Christopher Muscato as follows: since “nations containing terrorists were considered to be belligerents, American military invasion was justified by destroying terrorist organizations before they could attack again,”33 that is in their home country. In fact, less than a month after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States bombed Afghanistan, considered to be harboring the terrorist group that carried out the New York bombings.
The last point of Bush Doctrine is about “regime changes.” According to the American analyst, the objective was justified by Bush administration’s intention of “replacing tyrannical leaders with democratic ones.”34 Assuming the policy of operating regime changes in other states was later the reason (the pretext) of attacking Iraq, where US forces brutally removed Saddam Hussein from power.
George W. Bush administration (2001–2009) argued that the United States is forced to enter a global war; a war that is essentially ideological, in which America is the pole of the Good, and the enemies share a state of hate towards democracy.
Given its noble mission, America was justified—in Bush Doctrine’s conception—to unilateral undertaking of actions (be they military) against other states, considered to be part of the axis of evil. Based on arrogation of such a unique role, the US acted on its own behalf, and not few times, without even respecting international commitments it previously assumed. US felt entitled to unilaterally turn into agent of justice on a planetary scale and to inflict to other nations strategies such as shock and awe, as they did in March 2003 in Iraq. Another example of unilateralism by the US at that time is the withdrawal (in 2002) from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty), which I will resume later.
The Obama Doctrine was not as precisely outlined as previous Presidents’ doctrines, but analysts generally accept that from a declarative point of view President Barack Obama sought to put the emphasis more on “negotiation and collaboration than on confrontation and unilateralism in international affairs.”35 Shortly after he started his mandate, Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize, in October 2009, as a reward for his promises in the election campaign when he said that he “calls for a new beginning of the relations between the Muslim world and the West, based on common interests, mutual understanding and respect” as well as “for the vision of a world without nuclear weapons.”36
But in real terms, during his mandate (2009–2016), the US further expanded its war strategy. Three major military directions can be noted.
First, the United States triggered “the largest nuclear arming race after Cold War,”37 as the prestigious magazine Forbes underlines. It is about investments for new nuclear warheads, for bombers, submarines, missiles, laboratories, and weapon production plants. Obama decided to invest 1 trillion dollars in this huge arming program and thus he had started to break the provisions of the INF Treaty, of which Trump later effectively withdrew in August 2019. Already in 2016 the American professor emeritus Lawrence Wittner signalized that Obama’s arming strategy “violates the terms of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires nuclear powers to engage in nuclear disarmament.”38
Secondly, Obama authorized intensive bombing of seven states in the Middle East, an area he said he wanted to pacify before he became president. As referred to in a report by Council of Foreign Relations, quoted by NBC News, in the last year of his presidency, 2016, the United States bombed Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. It is emphasized that there were more US attacks in the Middle East over the previous year. The study recalls with irony that in 2008, in his presidential campaign, Obama made the pledge that if he were elected he would “set a new goal on day one: I will end [the Iraq] war.” Nevertheless, as the report’s data show, “Some 24,287 bombs were dropped in Iraq and Syria” in 2016 only, with ”an average of 72 bombs every day.”39 It is highlighted that there were more US attacks in the Middle East over the previous year. In order to provide a more relevant picture, I mention that the report states that there were at least 26,000 bombs launched, which is equivalent to 72 daily bombs throughout the year 2016.
A third feature was unprecedented extension of authorization of covert drone strike operations. Invoking a report from the Investigative Journalism Bureau,40 Washington Post points out that Obama’s decision to extend drone war resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians. The data showed that “There were ten times more air strikes in the covert war on terror during Barack Obama’s presidency than under his predecessor, George W. Bush.”41 The intensification of these drone attacks generated a real international scandal and large demonstrations, in which thousands of people protested in numerous cities around the world against “Obama Killing Program.”42
The 2018 National Defense Strategy of USA
We can see that during Donald Trump’s mandate, begun in 2017, the warring principles of US foreign policy are as present as ever. This results very clearly from “The 2018 National Defense Strategy,” announced on January 19, 2018 by the Pentagon, and which basically configures America’s military orientation until 2021 inclusively. However, an important change is to be noted.
The US Department of Defense no longer positions terrorism as the most serious threat, but “the primary concern of US national security” is “inter-state strategic competition.” There were several states explicitly nominated in this respect, as US opponents. The first mentioned were Russia and China, named as “revisionist powers,” that “want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model.”43
Russian Federation it is accused that “has violated the borders of nearby nations and pursues veto power over the economic, diplomatic, and security decisions of its neighbors.” On the other hand, China is described as “a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea.”44
The strategic document made public by the Pentagon argues paradoxically that peace is made… by war: “Achieving peace through strength requires (…) to deter conflict through preparedness for war.” It also sets the goal of maintaining US military assets both globally and in key areas. The strategy identifies three regions for “normal, day-to-day operations”: the Indo-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East, plus the Western hemisphere. The Department of Defense admits that “Today, we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy, aware that our competitive military advantage has been eroding.” As such, the new strategy follows that the US should “remain the preeminent military power in the world, ensure the balances of power remain in our favor, and advance an international order that is most conducive to our security and prosperity.”45
It is worrying that the first strategic measure of the Pentagon to achieve these objectives is to increase “lethal force” of US military, idea mentioned 15 times in a 14-page document!It is also worth noting the importance of an article posted in June 2017 on the US Department of Defense website (abbreviated DOD), entitled Mattis Says DOD Needs Years to Correct Effects of Sequestration. The article highlights that Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, acknowledged that America’s leadership power is today “challenged.” The passage is suggestive:
For decades, the United States enjoyed uncontested or dominant superiority in every operating domain or realm. We could generally deploy our forces when we wanted, assemble them where we wanted and operate how we wanted. Today, every operating domain—outer space, air, sea, undersea, land and cyberspace—is contested.46
Coming from the US Department of Defense, this statement has serious significance. It means indirect acknowledgment that US unipolar domination is nearing its end. It also seems to admit that we gradually get back to the concept of competition between the great powers and with it, to the one of multipolar “balance of power.”
In line with the theories of political realism I mentioned, all these statements suggest that it is highly possible that the real reason why US Defense Strategy focused on threats launched almost openly to Russia and China is because the US administration has now come to feel that its world supremacy is threatened on all levels. And, as many previous experiences showed, US policies used various accusations only as a pretext (terrorism, human rights violation, defending principles, etc.) in order to actually seek to prevent the rise of potential rivals to greater power.
Nuclear Missile Race
At the end of 2001, shortly after the attacks of September 11, the US announced it withdraws from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT47), which it did six months later. The treaty, which was ratified by US and USSR in 1972, established that each party could only have two48 anti-ballistic missile systems, ABMs49. Ballistic missiles are used to launch nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional nuclear warheads through air space.
The US Department of Defense, then headed by Paul Wolfowitz, said the decision was supported by the need to test and build a national defense system against ballistic missiles to protect the United States from possible blackmail or nuclear threat coming from a so-called rogue state.
For these reasons, the motivation presented by George W. Bush was that ABM treaty “hampers our ability to keep peace, to develop defensive weapons necessary to defend America against true threats of the 21st century.”50
After 9/11, in the rhetoric of Washington leaders the charges of “rogue state” were increasingly referred to states that do not respect international security standards. Specifically, they said that respective states could become a threat to world peace. Because they are led by authoritarian governments that severely restrict human rights, or because they sponsor terrorism, or they seek to proliferate weapons of mass destruction. To prevent all these, the new national security strategy presented by the White House in September 2002 announced that it would no longer tolerate any potential challenge from states or organizations that are not in line with international standards.
The Pentagon’s strategy to protect America from the potential threat of ballistic missiles resulted in the establishment in January 2002 of The Missile Defense Agency.51 It developed a series of ballistic defense systems, abbreviated BMD,52 which originated in Strategic Defense Initiatives (SDI), better known as “Star Wars.” Two well-known examples of BMD are Patriot and Aegis rocket systems. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica,53 SDI was launched in 1983 with the aim of creating a North American anti-missile shield, to annihilate possible intercontinental ballistic missile attacks, most likely launched by the Soviet Union. Then United States president Ronald Reagan publicly guaranteed that operations would be “consistent with our obligations of the ABM Treaty.”54
The issue is sensitive because ballistic missile obligations became a very controversial topic in US – Russian relationship and in general across the international scene, too. Currently, anti-ballistic systems or their by-products are the main weaponry in great powers’ capabilities and their territorial emplacement itself represents a powerful means of pressure against the adversary. That is why I consider it useful to carefully note opinions of some experts in this field.
(To be continued)