The United States of America needs to reiterate its global-police role
In relation to the Trump’s isolationistic assertion, which America should pull back as a world police and according to its diminishing role, Counter Narco-Terrorism Alliance Germany called on Germany, together with France and Canada, to take the lead to keep in place the international liberal order.
The CNT-Alliance did not expect the long-winding pre-coalition debate (Sondierungs-Gespräche) with a number of possible outcomes. Germany is permanently tied up in internal affairs not being able to put much efforts into its self-determined leading role in Europe and the world, with no change being expected at least until mid-April. While Germany celebrates extensive navel-gazing, Angela Merkel tries to keep control within the EU through back room phone calls. Her ministers take advantage of the situation: Christian Schmidt, member of the CDU’s sister party CSU, acted against her directive in an EU decision end of November on Glyphosate, causing a huge fuss in all parties and poisoning the pre-coalition debate. The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, takes his chance too and pushes his agenda of modernizing the EU ahead, much to the dissatisfaction of Berlin. Together with the still not clearly vocalized foreign policy and the raising problems in the much divided German society, we do not expect Germany to become part of the joint role of a world leading group soon.
Now the eyes are once again drawn to the America’s leading role as a global-police, but the first year of the Trump administration has been characterized by the lack of clear policy. The great hopes that many countries of the world hung on the change of administration and a new proactive president in the White House have slowly been eclipsed by a sense of confusion, given United States behavior that shows little consistency and no clear strategic objectives.
President Obama, apart from striving for an agreement with Iran, limited his involvement in the Middle East, but was forced to direct new attention to the region due to the Islamic State challenge. In the election campaign, Trump also spoke in favor of limiting United States intervention in various world arenas. However, he too has been forced to confront the spread of Iranian hegemony, continue to fight the Islamic State, and attempt to stabilize Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and Libya and Afghanistan (he sent thousands of more troops to fight insurgents in the country).
Consequently, it appears that the Trump administration has no choice but to continue in the role of the global-police to protect American interests. In places throughout the world, a vacuum is quickly filled by elements working against American interests. Under the previous administration, the vacuum was exploited by Iran, the Islamic State, Turkey, North Korea, Pakistan and Russia.
The Iranian regime is working fervently to expand its influence in South-Central Asia and middle-east. It can claim several achievements, due to the weakness of the previous American administration, as shown by the nuclear agreement. Thus, the Iranian regime after the JCPOA, while released from international isolation and economic sanctions and not facing any military or internal challenge, has managed to extend its influence to Afghanistan, Iraq (a Shiite government) and Yemen (through the Houthis); is in control of Lebanon (through Hezbollah); seeks control of Syria; is undermining Sunni regimes in the region, such as those in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia; and is supporting Hamas and Islamic Jihad in their war on Israel.
The Sunni jihadists strive to establish an Islamic caliphate, whether sooner, using the Islamic State (ISIS) model of announcing the caliphate and setting up a civilian system to administer the territories it conquers while continuing the military struggle to retain and expand these territories, or later, using the al-Qaeda method of first eliminating Western intervention in the Middle East and toppling the local "infidel" regimes, in order to establish the caliphate after their destruction. These elements must be defeated, the underground terror infrastructures that remain in their hands, particularly in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and North Africa. This terror will focus not only on Central-South Asian countries including Afghanistan and the Arab world but also on the West.
Given its global scope, the war on Salafist jihadist elements requires a concentrated international effort led by the United States, with intelligence, operational, economic, and political cooperation between all the relevant actors, particularly in the south-central Asia Middle East, to defeat them in the territory they control and to frustrate the terror attacks they intend to mount anywhere in the world.
President Erdogan supports the Muslim Brotherhood not only in the Middle East but also in Afghanistan. He has recently invited Gulbodin Hikmatyar a famous warlord and one of the founding figure of Muslim Brotherhood in Afghanistan to visit Ankara. Erdogan seeks to reposition Turkey as a neo-Ottoman empire based on the movement’s ideology. Under the Obama administration no significant American or international pressure was put on Erdogan, although he acted against American and European interests, his Economic assistance to the Islamic State through purchases of oil from the organization. He did not prevent the passage of jihadists from all over the world through Turkey, either on their way to join the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, or on their way back to their countries of origin, particularly in Europe, as trained and experienced terrorists. The result was a number of serious attacks carried out by these activists in Europe especially in Germany, France and Belgium. Erdogan has encouraged illegal migration of Muslims to Europe (refugees and economic migrants) through Turkey, and particularly to the Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea through a Turkish system of human smuggling. Erdogan does not hide his intention to Islamize Europe through demographic change.
Pakistani Army and the country’s Inter-service intelligence have continued to support insurgency in Afghanistan and has deepened it strategic depth in the country. The country tries to topple the Kabul regime which is ally of Washington and New Delhi.
It is clear that one of the goals of President Vladimir Putin through his proactive involvement in Afghanistan and Syria is to strengthen the status of Russia as a global power. Nevertheless, Trump and Putin can reach an understanding regarding the division of spheres of influence.
The Arab Sunni camp felt abandoned and even betrayed by the Obama administration. The overthrow of President Husni Mubarak, the failure to support President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt at the start of the counterrevolution, and accommodation with the Shiite camp led by Iran as part of the strategy in the war on the Islamic State all led to a crisis of trust between the United States and those that were until then its natural allies in the region. President Trump reflects a different policy, as shown in his visit to Riyadh in May 2017 and the attempts to provide political, economic, and military support to non-jihadist Sunni elements in Syria, such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). It is not clear if the policy of supporting non-jihadi Sunnis is continuing. True, since the start of the campaign in al-Raqqa there were signs of increasing American aid, but as the larger battles have died down and perhaps following Trump-Putin understandings on Syria, there are signs that support and assistance are shrinking. This is a serious error. If this is the case, then once again the United States will be seen by the Sunnis as an unreliable ally, while Putin manages to present himself as a reliable pillar for his allies.
The United States must adopt a clear position in favor of the Sunnis and against the Shiites led by Iran. The positive attempt to support the Kurds in their war against the Islamic State must set an example for similar support for non-jihadist Sunnis. In this context, the United States can obtain help from the Sunni countries, which will act out of their interest in preventing the spread of Shiite, Salafist, and jihadist influence, or the Muslim Brotherhood.
Obama’s eight years of foreign and security policy that weakened US status as a global power, failure by the Trump administration to stand up for its interests and those of its allies reflects badly on the US, particularly regarding North Korea, Iran and Pakistan. A gap between words and deeds showing unwillingness, lack of determination, and lack of seriousness will further weaken the United States. The attempts by previous administrations to postpone dealing with security challenges prove that over time the challenge only becomes more difficult, therefore Trump’s Administration needs to recap its role as a global-police. Whether he’ll be able to pick up the lead and take on his duty is much uncertain since the American President faces a number difficulties in his country and his personal surrounding. The most recent are a tax bill causing much opposition in America’s middle class and Special Counsel Mueller steadily taking out one of his allies after the other, leaving not much room to think about foreign policy.
Firstly published: cnt-alliance.org