History has often been plagued by irrational leaders, irrational cultures and irrational nations. While the US is often derided in these terms, this is thankfully not the case. Based simply on the sheer firepower which the US superpower possesses, the world as we know it would have likely already been destroyed were the US as irrational as many international observers suggest that it is.
The US is actually very pragmatic for the same reason that the laws of the jungle are pragmatic. If a lion sees a herd of deer and a nearby elephant, the lion will attack the deer rather than risk being crushed to death in an attempt to eat the more powerful elephant.
While the elephant in this instance was saved by its size, the deer who cannot outrun the lion will be killed by a more powerful predatory creature. This situation is incredibly violent, especially if one is a deer or can otherwise sympathise with the deer. But the situation is not irrational. What would be irrational would be for the lion after consuming a healthy amount of deer meat to then attempt to attack the elephant only to get crushed under the massive mammal’s weight.
This is why when the US commits atrocities against weaker nations like The Philippines, Cuba, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Iran, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Ukraine, Syria and others, this is not irrational – it is simply violent and unethical. The US knows very well that these nations have less advanced military hardware, smaller armed forces and more vulnerable economies than it does and therefore are deer among lions.
This is also the same reason why the US has not directly attacked Russia, China or the USSR before it, preferring instead to concentrate on provocations and hybrid wars against weaker nations surrounding Russia and China or among their economic and strategic partners further abroad.
In this sense, the US like every other nation is concerned with its self-interest. Of course when US wars and meddling exploits abroad go wrong from the US perspective, this is often due to poor planning or execution of a strategy – it certainly isn’t due to some strange form of geopolitical sadomasochism.
Inversely though, there is something in the American attitude which refuses to see that there is a third way between conquest without ethics and surrendering one’s own interests based on a defeatist pseudo-altruism. This third way is best described as the win-win model that at present China has actively promoted as an alternative to the zero-sum mentality that dominates the US and many of its geopolitical dependants.
In order to attain geopolitical enlightenment, the US ought to study the Chinese method which never forces or coerces partnerships, nor does China go around the world offering inflexible one size fits all solutions to unique problems. Instead, China is willing to work with partners on as limited or as wide a basis as such partners find suitable. Once an agreement is made, bespoke solutions for trade, investment and sustainable development are tabled and discussed in a manner where there are no overriding strings attacked.
Likewise, the US could learn from Russia’s approach to security matters throughout the world. The overarching difference between Russia’s role as an unemotional superpower and America’s role as a meddling superpower is this: While both Russia and the US act according to their interests, Russia follows a geopolitical version of the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians which specifically states “do no harm”. By contrast, the United States will do anything, no matter how harmful to secure its goals. This has been the case from the time the US dropped atomic weapons on a beaten and broken Japan in 1945 and it is true today when Washington has allied with the most savage head-chopping Takfiri terrorists the world has seen.
Russia does not seek to be anyone’s enemy, but nor does Russia seek to by anyone’s “super best friend”. Russia has its interests and it has expressed them honestly. It is now up to Russia’s Arab and Iranian partners to decide how to proceed from here, knowing that if they reject the Russian deal, Russia will take appropriate steps which reflect the fact that in geopolitics like in all other relationships “it takes two to tango”.
Finally, the US can attain geopolitical enlightenment from learning its own history. In the early 20th century, Republican Senator Robert Taft was a towering figure in US politics. In many ways he was the best President the US never had, although he did try and attain the Presidency. Taft believed in an American version of a geopolitical Hippocratic Oath, arguing for the US to trade with all based on reason rather than emotion or ideological zeal and likewise, he opposed US involvement in all the major wars the US entered during his time in politics and likewise favoured straight forward business deals rather than entangling long-term agreements.
Taft’s way of thinking was similar to the thinking of former Congressman and current political commentator Dr. Ron Paul. Paul’s rational approach to geopolitics is one that opposes any and all forms of war whether trade wars, cold wars, proxy wars, hybrid wars or traditional military wars. Crucially, Ron Paul’s ideology is designed not to reject wealth and the national interest but to expand wealth and defend the national interest.
Sadly, the neocon/neo-liberal mindset which still controls most branches of elected and un-elected (aka deep state) government in the US are obsessed with a violent and consequently deeply unethical approach to serving the national interest – one that in the long run is more costly than embracing a peaceful, ethical win-win mentality whether on the Chinese market-socialist model, the Russian businesslike deal making model or the Robert Taft/Ron Paul style libertarian model.
There are many ways in which the US can approach a win-win mentality and crucially, neither of the other superpowers wish the US to abandon its cherished internal characteristics. All the rest of the multipolar world would like is for the US to relinquish the zero-sum mentality and adopt a more ethical and simultaneously a more self-serving win-win approach. For the sake of the wider world and also that of the American people, on a day that the US celebrates its independence from foreign rule, people should contemplate giving the nations in the developing world a similar privilege.