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US Election 2020 | Donald Trump and Joe Biden to square off in first Presidential debate, why foreign policy is not on the agenda

The impact the US foreign policy has had on West Asia is unfathomable and with good reason. If you want to know more about the conflict in West Asia, then here's why the US is uncomfortable discussing it in public

September 30, 2020 / 02:04 AM IST
Joe Biden (Left) and Donald Trump

Joe Biden (Left) and Donald Trump

As the date for the 59th Presidential Election in the US heads ever so close, we wanted to take the time to talk about the most significant topic that isn't present on the agenda for the first presidential debate.

The first debate will be moderated by Fox News' Chris Wallace. The debate commission announced that the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden would focus on topics, including the record of both candidates, the integrity of the election, race and violence in American cities, the economy, and COVID-19.

And while these are some of the most pressing concerns for the citizens of the US, one of the most important topics was left out. Foreign Policy did not make the agenda for the first presidential debate between Trump and Biden. Although foreign policy is not the most pressing concern for the people of America, it is for the rest of the world, particularly the regions where the country has carried out war campaigns.

The new deal that never was

Today, war has become an integral part of the US Empire. However, it wasn't always like that; there was a time where the US yearned for economic freedom and liberty for all countries. At a time when the entire world was at war and the fascist German Empire spearheaded by Hitler was on the rise, President Franklyn Delano Roosevelt, often referred to by his initials FDR, saw an opportunity, not only to defeat the Germans but to put an end to tyrannical empires all around the world.


At the heart of Roosevelt's vision to aid the British in World War II was the premise that political freedom meant economic freedom, a vision that was in stark contrast with the British Empire's rationale of keeping the colonies poor and dependent on London. Roosevelt's global New Deal was one that would allow the colonies to develop. Roosevelt made clear that the price of American aid would be the world after the German's were defeated.

And thus, the Atlantic Charter was formed, outlining the aims of the two superpowers post World War II.  The adherents to the Atlantic Charter signed the Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942, which became the basis for the modern United Nations. However, since Roosevelt's death in 1945, no country has strayed farther away from his vision for a better future for all than the US.

Truth about Iran

In the aftermath of World War II, the US grew into the most powerful nation in the world with a booming economy, at the heart of which was war. Post World War II, America's regime change wars in West Asia can be dated back to the 1950s when the CIA and MI6 orchestrated a coup to oust Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.

Mosaddegh was regarded as the leading champion of secular democracy and resistance to foreign domination in Iran's modern history. Mosaddegh's administration introduced nationwide social reform in Iran. However, the British turned to the CIA for aid when Mosaddegh nationalised the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. He believed that the Iranians were the rightful owners of all the oil in Iran and pointed out that the country could use the money.

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Once Mosaddegh was overthrown, the US and Britain then proceeded to instil a puppet leader in the form of the Shah, who reached an agreement with the oil companies, with the primary benefactors being the US and Great Britain. In return, the Shah was heavily funded by the US government. Mohammad Reza Shah and his government were ousted in 1979 in what would come to be known as the Iranian Revolution. However, the coup against Mosaddegh permanently changed the trajectory of Iran, going from a Social Democracy to an Islamic Republic.

Today, Iran once again finds itself in the crosshairs of the American Empire, with the Trump administration restoring all United Nations sanctions on Iran. The crippling sanctions have seen Iran's currency fall to its lowest levels ever against the US dollar, sparking outrage among the global community. But the conflict in West Asia has been brewing for a while now, and Iran is just the latest victim of the Empire.

The US Empire operates on the simple premise that we are the world's largest superpower, we have been victorious in all our endeavours, and thus our cause is righteous. Here is a Fox News compilation of Americans talking about bombing Iran, courtesy of Kyle Kulinski from Secular Talk.

The real cost of war

Since the US undertook its global crusade against terror in 2001 as many as 59 million people, have been displaced, according to a recent report released by Brown University.

The report labelled the "Costs of War Project", says between 37 million and 59 million people in eight countries in Africa, Asia and West Asia have fled their homes in the wars the US military has initiated or participated in since 2001. It is further estimated that anywhere between 500,000 to 2 million people have been killed, most of which are civilians, since the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

The term collateral damage has allowed the US to drop bombs on civilian populations of these regions with complete impunity. This was escalated with the introduction of Drone Warfare under the Bush administration, and further expanded under the Obama and Trump administrations. In 2015, the International Business Times reported that during a five-month period, "nearly 90 percent of those killed by US Drones were not intended targets".

Truth about Iraq

In 2006, when the US invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein was on trial for crimes he committed in 1982. He was charged with killing or signing the death warrant on over a 100 Shiites involved in an uprising. But in the 1980s, the then President of the US, Ronald Reagan dropped Iraq from a list of countries supporting terrorism. This gave the US the means to provide Saddam with extensive aid, including military aid and the means to develop biological, chemical weapons. The agreement was cosigned by Donald Rumsfeld, just another one of those warmongers in Washington.

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Later in the 1980s, Saddam's regime also oversaw the Kurdish massacres, like the one in Halabja. However, there was no interjection by the US; Reagan's administration blocked efforts in Congress to protest against the massacres. The administration increased its support for Saddam during this period. In fact, Iraqi jets fired two missiles at the American frigate USS Stark on May 17, 1987, killing a total of 37 US Navy personnel. But support for Saddam did not dwindle.

Prominent philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, and political activist Noam Chomsky recalls a time in 1989 where Iraqi nuclear engineers were invited to the US to take part in a conference where they were trained on how to develop weapons of mass destruction. At the time, Bush Senior outlined the importance of supporting Saddam.

Throughout all of Saddam's horrible atrocities and war crimes, he received unwavering support from the US. It was only until the goals of the US didn't align with Saddam Hussein, was he declared a mortal threat to the world, albeit after supporting him for almost two decades.

Truth about Afghanistan

And the same can be seen with Afghanistan. It is easy to forget that radical Islamist groups were funded by the CIA to disrupt the Soviet-backed People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), which gained power in the Saur Revolution. The socialist government in Afghanistan initiated land reform, equality for women, legalisation of trade unions, and a sweeping literacy campaign.

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However, like every other nation in the past that attempted to uplift itself from poverty and tyranny, the US was having none of it. The CIA helped organise and arm the old landlord class and conservative religious groups into an armed militia, with the aim of overthrowing the PDPA. In response, the Soviet Union sent in troops to help the current regime.

The Mujahideen had been funded by the CIA from 1979 to 1989 in Operation Cyclone to fight the Soviet Union. Osama Bin Laden, the architect of 9/11, was a Saudi recruit who left his home country to fight against the Soviet-backed leadership in Afghanistan. Despite being a nation rich in natural resources, Afghanistan is currently one of the poorest countries in the world.

The forever enemy

Even if you believe this to be a harsh criticism of the US that may be based on falsehoods, I implore you to look to history. Remember the world's communism menace, for decades, the US-led its people to believe that it had to maintain massive military bases all around the world because the Soviet Union was the greatest threat to democracy. The Red Scare was used as a means for governments to justify the need for massive military budgets to the taxpayers.

History had proved that it was nothing more than a fear tactic because in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse the US military budget climbed at a higher rate than ever before, higher than it ever was during the Cold War. In turn, the US has opened even more military bases, while retaining a vast majority of the previous ones. Perhaps, the worst thing the Soviet Union did to the US was leave it without an enemy. Today, the US has replaced the 'Communist Boogieman' with that of 'Terrorism'.

But even beyond West Asia, you can see the impact of past and present US foreign policies in several countries in South America, Africa, and Eastern Europe. 'Regime Change' war has been a staple of the US Empire. Just look at Vietnam, every year Americans mourn the thousands of veterans for the Vietnam War, but not the millions of Vietnamese who stood against the Empire.

The real victors of wars 

And in victory or defeat, the US military-industrial complex has always won, no matter the war. Private industry be it oil or defence, has gained the most out of the US's never-ending conflicts.

In turn, these industries spend millions of dollars in lobbying politicians across either side of the aisle. Dick Cheney served as the head of Halliburton for six years before we became vice-president to the second Bush. Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, then went on to win a $7 billion 'no-bid' contract known as Restore Iraqi Oil, or RIO, during his tenure as VP.

The US citizens are strongly opposed to the country's war in West Asia. Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump campaigned on bringing US troops home, but did little to make good on those promises. Obama's drone programme says a vast number of civilian casualties, including children, yet he was awarded the Noble Peace Prize. Though Trump ran on an anti-war campaign, as of 2019, the US had around 15,000 troops in Afghanistan. The number was around 8,000 when Obama left office.

Furthermore, in 2018 and 2019, the US dropped more bombs in Afghanistan since the invasion commenced in 2001. The Trump administration also saw the US drop the largest non-nuclear bomb, nicknamed the "mother of all bombs". It is worth noting that every bomb dropped equals millions of dollars in the pockets of the private defence contractors.

Even today, the US military-industrial complex has a strangled hold over politicians from across the aisle. The defence budget has ballooned from more than $400 billion in the late 90s to over $740 billion today and that's after accounting for inflation, a figure which is more than that of the next 10 countries combined. Republican President Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex in his farewell address.

More recently, 139 Democrats sided with Republicans to block a House vote to cut the Pentagon budget by 'JUST'10-percent. This at a time when the country is experiencing record levels of unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic and millions of Americans have lost their healthcare.

American exceptionalism leaves no room for American accountability 

And now, on the eve of the first Presidential debate, in what happens to be one of the most polarised in American history, there will be no talk about foreign policy.

Michael Parenti once said in reference to the third world, "There are very few poor countries in this world, most countries are rich. The capitalist European and North American countries have drained these nations of all their natural resources, these countries are not underdeveloped, they are overexploited."

What we the people must demand of the US is an answer to the endless war campaigns. An account for the millions of lives these campaigns have cost, based on lies and not mistakes from the intelligence communities.

However, if the topics of the debate have made one thing clear, it is that neither Trump nor Biden are going to be held accountable for their actions, neither is going to have to answer the difficult question of US Imperialism. For now, America seems content on dealing with its own internal issues rather than the external ones it has created all over the globe.
Carlsen Martin
first published: Sep 29, 2020 10:12 pm

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