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Scorched Earth Left Behind From US Counter-Terrorism And Humanitarian Intervention Strategy – OpEd


Henry Kissinger presented a new proposal for stopping the Russia-Ukraine war at the World Economic Forum in Davos; his suggestions are based on the principles of the Athenians’ Peloponnesian Wars against the Spartans; according to which the stronger will do what they want and the weak will suffer as they should. Kissinger sees the annexation of eastern Ukraine to Russia and Ukraine’s commitment to refrain from membership in NATO as geopolitical facts that must be accepted by Kyiv. He considers Ukraine’s unconditional surrender and not defending its people against Russian military aggression as the best way to end this blatant military aggression.


To put it in a nutshell, Kissinger enunciated that Ukraine should give up Crimea, Luhansk, and Donetsk and cede these advanced industrial and agricultural areas to Russia. In addition, Europe is obliged to admit that its access to the Black sea via Ukraine is blocked. All of these appeasements originate from the need to stop an alliance between Russia and China.

However, Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, had previously spoken of a strategy to weaken Russia in the wake of the Ukraine war; that is a proxy war with Russia on Ukrainian soil. How effective these two approaches and the successive package of US and European sanctions against Russia can be on the fate of the war is yet to be seen. In addition, it is not clear what Washington is basically looking for on the battlefields of America’s open-ended wars, which have culminated in devastating campaigns and scandalous retreats.

At the beginning of the third millennium, the effects of US policies on the world order and in the post-Cold War era are more palpable than ever. The existing world order and the “liberal ideology of capitalist internationalism”, also known as the new American-centered order, are incapable of responding to the existing challenges they themselves have created.

These circumstances have created a situation for Washington because of which the United States will never again experience the full-fledged global domination that it enjoyed for 17 years from the fall of the Soviet Union to the 2008 financial crisis. Besides, developments in the Middle East, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq, show that those days of Washington’s power and joy are over.

The end of American domination of the world order was revealed in the US political structure during the Trump era and can no longer be hidden. Trump was not really the cause of the collapse of the American order, but the “obvious consequence” of its decline.


The United States, which wrote the version of democratic government and humanitarian intervention in support of the formation of democratic governments during the Cold War and even afterward, has not even been able to hold a fair election since Trump. Trump has delivered a fragmented society afflicted with a deep racial identity gap; the effects of this split on the White House, Congress, and Senate have been such that they have been unable to resolve domestic and foreign issues. However, they still seek to exert their power over others and even the people of the United States.

It can be said that Washington and Congress have lost their ability to influence the behavior of international actors due to various crises and the intensification of these crises. If we define power as the ability to influence others’ behavior and change it in any direction without the use of force, the United States can no longer be considered a global superpower. Other signs of the growing decline of this order can be seen at the end of the US role as a strategic ally and the loss of its hegemony to control the behavior of rival actors in world politics; palpable in the ineffectiveness of “state actors in open-ended wars” and the “challenge of non-state actors”.

The United States is currently embroiled in a crisis that it has sowed in the world system. The state of American public opinion is such that it cannot tolerate another military adventure. It can be said that for the United States, the Vietnam and Afghanistan Syndrome metastasized in the second decade of the third millennium, and this is the beginning of the end of the myth of the American world order and its values through massive media propaganda.

As a result of the crises created by the United States, rival government actors such as China, Russia, India, Iran, and Pakistan are gradually approaching the creation of an axis separate from the United States and its allies. On the other hand, the heavy wave of “right-wing nationalism” has delayed the speed of acceptance of the grand strategic alliances; evident in the positions taken by India or Pakistan in recent crises, especially the Ukraine war. The positions of these countries showed that the United States has even lost the ability to influence its second-class allies. Even Washington’s influence on its NATO allies is not so strong; as in the case of Turkey. 

Afghanistan’s surrender to the Taliban and the US silence on the statelessness situation in Libya, Yemen, and the crisis in Syria and Iraq shows that the US has not only failed in these 20 years of war but has exacerbated terrorism. The policy of the war on terror and the concept of humanitarian intervention have eventually become a scorched earth strategy.

Although much of the focus in international politics is on the Ukraine war and also the US proxy war with Russia in Europe, the world that the Americans have left behind, including wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and the open nuclear case of Ira indicates that countries are seeking to live even in crises without the United States.

Countries are realizing the bitter reality that they will eventually be the pieces of US proxy warfare chess in the coming war with China; the war promised repeatedly before and described by the media as inevitable in the form of a confrontation between the forces of good and evil. Thus, the intersection of crises indicates that the American strategy of “neither peace nor global stability” is coming to an end. What makes matter worse for America is that the rhetoric of turning China into a global enemy is declining.

In other words, this situation implies an augmented reality that the survival of the American order depends on launching a large-scale war with China; a war based on the Hobbesian world that must be won at no cost. In this situation, there are two ways forward: Either allying with the United States and moving towards the Hobbesian order for being benefited of global interests or gaining the right to determine global destiny; a choice that must be made sooner or later.

Greg Pence

Greg Pence is an international studies graduate of University of San Francisco.

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