Hegemonic mindset still lingers in president’s speech

By Clifford A. Kiracofe Source:Global Times Published: 2015-1-23 0:13:01

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

US President Barack Obama's State of the Union address left a lot to be desired regarding US foreign policy. The reaction of the Republican-dominated Congress indicates a dangerous trend toward extremism. 

Despite good points on Cuba and Iran, the speech, on balance, reflected the prevailing confrontational elite mindset drenched in a US hegemonism devoid of constructive vision.

While the Obama administration is appropriately removing economic sanctions against Cuba, it is five decades late. The sharp reaction against Obama's Cuba policy by Republican Cuban-American senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and Republican Cuban-American congresswoman Ileana Ross-Lehtinen, reflects the narrow attitude of the right-wing Cuban exile community in South Florida. The US public in general and the US business community certainly think otherwise.

Obama is of course correct in trying to find a diplomatic solution to the very challenging issues concerning Iran and its nuclear program. The issues are complex and require serious and patient efforts to resolve matters.

Obama will need all the support he can get from those interested in a peaceful settlement of outstanding issues regarding Iran. Already, in a stunning display of irresponsibility, the Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner just invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on the subject of Iran.

This comes in the middle of very sensitive international diplomatic negotiations. Right-wing pro-Israel Republicans at the same time also threaten additional sanctions against Iran. This move is intended to torpedo international negotiations.

Those who are looking at the US from the outside should bear in mind that under the US constitution the president has the ultimate authority in foreign policy, not Congress. 

The Senate, for example, can give advice and consent, the House can decide on expenditures, and Congress can declare war. But the ultimate authority and responsibility in foreign policy is with the president as provided in the constitution.

What is deeply disturbing about Obama's speech is the blatant confrontational attitude toward Russia and China. The president, in a cheap shot, gloated about Russia's present economic distress which he in effect took credit for. The current confrontational policy toward Russia is largely a product of the neoconservative ideological penetration of the Democratic and Republican parties.

The Obama administration's coup d'etat in Ukraine produced an extremely dangerous situation in Europe. Some statesmen and observers today see war just around the corner.

Obama's geopolitical moves to contain China and others through trade agreements in the Pacific and across the Atlantic evoke the penultimate speech in hegemonic ambition. 

Whether one considers Washington's global economic and geopolitical hegemonism as being based on the model of Athenian imperialism, Roman imperialism, or 19th century British imperialism, it is breathtaking in its arrogance and shortsightedness.

The world is moving toward multipolarity and polycentrism, but Washington continues to seek a unipolar world dominated by the US through the imposition global finance capitalism backed by a globalized NATO.

The administration's design was clearly spelled out last year by Tony Donilon, former national security advisor to Obama. Writing in the Washington Post he said that the Atlantic and the Pacific free trade agreements pushed by Washington would set the rules for the global economy for the next century and that they are directed against China's rise so as to manage it.

In Obama's speech the confrontational message was that China must play by economic and other rules laid down by the US. Overall the White House means that the so-called Washington consensus will be globalized and that alternate models will not be tolerated.

Of course Obama avoided serious comment on the catastrophic situation in the Middle East which the US and its allies Britain and France in particular created. Contrary to his rosy picture of the anti-IS campaign, seasoned observers say the situation is getting worse by the day. Obama's speech and the reaction from Congress reflect a dangerous state of profound delusion in the mindset of the US leadership elite.

The author is an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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