tv Cross Talk RT January 8, 2014 6:29am-7:01am EST
dangerous entanglements and contradictory alliances is the u.s. hostage to its many client states how well do these client states and alliances serve america's national geo political interests and is washington overstretched its foreign policy commitments. to cross-talk america's foreign entanglements i'm joined by my guest john glaser in washington he's a contributing editor at antiwar dot com and a columnist for the washington times community section in new york we have he is an associate professor at the city university of new york and the co-director of the middle east center at northeastern university and in los angeles we have nick hancock he is on the national outreach team for the tenth amendment center all right gentlemen crosstalk rules in effect that means you can jump in anytime you want and i very much encourage it john if i. go to you first you recently published
an article the danger of entangling alliances and you ended by saying the fiction that every corner of the earth is a vital us interest and the consequent state of perennial fear together make unnecessary conflict more likely and that is the great danger of entangling alliances why did you write that what does it mean and why now well i wrote that with the fact in mind that we're coming up on the hundredth anniversary of the first world war and as any first year college student can tell you what really cause that global conflagration was a small scuffle. in the balkans and what would have been a relatively small issue in terms of global conflict turned into a world war primarily because of a system of alliances which made a greater powers beholden to the interests of smaller powers and that's
a great sort of illustration of a lot of what u.s. foreign policy is today we have alliances all over the world because of a grand strategy that has been implemented especially since world war two that seeks to dominate the world and so all of our interests according to people in washington rests in every nook and cranny of the globe and we end up. paying the governments of smaller nations and arming them and making sure that they are allied with us but it ends up in tangling us in conflicts that are none of our business ok dive in new york would you agree with that or disagree entangling alliances just too many and it puts us interests all over the world at risk well i think certainly there is a danger of being overcommitted to allies but i think at the moment actually far form like precipitating conflict the opposite danger is that many of the us his
longtime allies are now questioning the degree to which they can rely on the united states and that might actually encourage them themselves to take more perhaps risky action than they would do if they could rely upon the united states so i think while you know john is certainly right to point to the example of the first world war two in my decide the danger that alliance is composed in that they can drive countries such as the united states into conflict i think alliances can also be a source of restraint such that countries be they japan for instance or saudi arabia or israel the more that they can rely on the united states the more that they can trust their alliance with the united states perhaps the less likely they are to find themselves in complex i think alliances can also be a source. states a source of stability ok john i'll go to you first then i'll go to nick you want to rebut that go ahead john so you know this issue of alliances causing countries to have more restraint is belied by history what's going on right now for example in
the asia pacific is that the united states is boosting military and economic support for its for all of china's neighboring rivals so if you think about for example the maritime in territorial disputes that the philippines has with china the philippines has been you know pushing out its navy and provoke. king chinese naval ships and china has been doing its own kind of aggressive actions as well but in a normal situation the philippines which is a tiny tiny nation would never be so bold as to challenge a rising regional great power like china the only reason they're doing so is because we have a security agreement with them which says they will come to their defense if they ever get in a conflict with china and you know this is beneficial to us because we want military bases in their lands and we want to actually project power to check china
so look this is a this is a clear example of where an alliance can actually make the smaller power far more reckless in its actions and lead to lead to action is they could actually create a war that nobody wants ok nic if i go to you in los angeles do american on a smaller let me get to this first time ok nic how would you weigh in from what we've heard here because we we've heard from john that a client states can be of very much i downside for a country like the united states and some of those countries have already been mentioned we can think of israel pakistan saudi arabia i mean that's a very interesting mix when it when you look at it from washington go ahead nick in los angeles interesting to say the least and i read john's piece the danger of entanglements he uses a quote from george washington's farewell address that struck me and that was that when a nation is when a nation has an alliance whether it's one dependent on its affection towards
another nation or a constant warring relationship that rely on its animosity the affection of the animosity and that making that nation a slave and that is an idea that we have to revisit that even if there is so-called positive benefits of alliances ultimately these these alliances in slave the country beyond any any requiem of constitutional resolve of how the country carries out its foreign policy so. on on that we have to look at fundamentals and fundamentally the united states is gone far away it's a bizarro world turned upside down in our foreign affairs that we don't follow the constitution we don't follow the advice of the founders and that's why i'm on john's side ok alliances being dangerous or not they're inherently dangerous i
don't want to this to be two against one so damn if you can just you want to yeah you want to rebut what john had to say and i'll be when he had to say go ahead. yeah i'd like to just write yeah just to just to go back to the point that john was making while it may be true in the case of a country a small state like the philippines in may i think he has a point that it may well embolden them let's let's take two potential flash points to it two areas where we can really imagine a conflict one japan and china and the other is let's ask ourselves imagine a situation where the united states wasn't involved united states hadn't made alliance commitments to either of those two countries would the risk of a greater or lesser in in those situations and i would argue that in certainly in the case of the tensions between japan and china which we've seen lately the east china sea that it's precisely because of america's commitment to japan that the japanese have happy restrained in fact i would argue that japan's post-war
pacifism has been as a result of course of its ability to rely upon the united states for its security and the united states is a moderating influence in the relationship between china and japan and similarly if we turn to the tension longstanding tension particularly over iran's nuclear program between israel and iran i mean it's quite apparent that israel may well have taken military action against iran's nuclear program was it not for the astray . influence of the united states so i think john is right that in some cases small countries can feel emboldened and that's really a question for the united states to ensure that they that they don't but i think in some of these major areas of tension in the world the u.s. is alliance commitments i've had surely been a source for stability one and just to reiterate my earlier point i think one of the great dangers that we're facing in the world today in going future going
forward is that many countries many long time u.s. allies are beginning to question to the extent to which they can rely upon the united states that worrying about the u.s. is what they perceive as isolationist tendencies in the united states and this i think is a far greater danger going forward than the united states being overcommitted. small countries ok john if i go back to you in washington i mean israel has been brought up and so has been iran i mean if it is real in saudi arabia that are blocking a potential breakthrough in diplomacy between washington intern around i mean these alliances are stopping a very i mean you know this is a great debate about iran but this is an opportunity in front of us should alliances be that barrier shouldn't be resolving regional issues. look that's that's exactly right the united states is some of the old and to its suppose it allies in saudi arabia and israel that it's you know we have this possibility to
have an actual detente with iran and it's clearly within our interests because the other alternative is that isolation and tensions continue down the line and we have supposed allies like israel advocating war just as they did in iraq and you know that that's that was a real possibility if we didn't have some willingness on the part of the leadership in washington and tehran to get together and talk that's clearly within our interests and our supposed allies saudi arabia and israel don't want it to happen and they've been loudly objecting. which is which is sort of silly they're supposed to be our weaker allies our client states according to washington but for their own reasons they oppose iran and it's contrary to our interests this is another example entangling alliances if we follow our own interests we'd have a much more peaceful middle east and i think that the the united states would be
less and less interventionist in a policy because oftentimes we intervene on behalf of the wishes and wills of our allies and that's that's interest ok gentlemen we're going to go to a short break and after that children we'll continue our discussion on dangerous entanglements stayed with our kids. these. plenty of it was terrible they weren't very hard to take i don't plan to get a little longer here a plug in that had sex with the target their lives let's
welcome back to cross talk we're all things considered i'm peter lavelle to remind you we're discussing dangerous liaison's. ok don't like to go back to you in new york early in the program you gave us one side of the coin john gave us the other side of the coin when it comes to entanglements you want to rebut what john had to say before we went to the break please go ahead. yes i am i mean i there's
a couple of points that i have to take issue with first of all i think the example that john was mentioning about the. israel and iran and saudi arabia in actual fact the fact is that despite saudi arabia and israel's obvious opposition to the recently signed geneva accord. the interim agreement iran's nuclear. program the united states went ahead and signed that accord even though it was very apparent that saudi arabia and israel were not happy about that so i think the fact that the united states has conducted under the obama administration diplomacy with iran in fact has done so secretly for the last. for over a year and has now signed an interim nuclear agreement and. intent or hopeful to sign a comprehensive agreement despite the concerns of saudi arabia and israel i think indicates that in fact the united states has pursued its own interests in the middle east and continues to do so i would point to another example where the
united states pursued certain interests in the region with regard to egypt the united states you know albeit somewhat reluctantly but did ultimately support the overthrow of hosni mubarak in egypt despite the fact that again israel and saudi arabia were opposed to that so i don't think so i think it's wrong to imagine that somehow u.s. foreign policy in the middle east at least is entirely beholden to israel and saudi arabia certainly those are countries whose interests and concerns the united states takes into account but not to the extent to which it limits america's freedom of action as we see in both of those instances i think with regards to can i just. say that i know what i'm going to hear they had to hang on i got to get nic in here ok because there are three guests here nic would you like to weigh in on that because it. had to say about iran and in egypt that's part of the record let's keep make that clear but at the same time there are forces in capitol hill that are heavily influenced by of certain lobby and other lobbies that want to obstruct any kind of
diplomatic outreach to iran that's what i would say it's still very early days when it comes to the american detente with. the headway in nick how much weight can you really put behind the interim agreement with iran i don't put a whole lot of faith behind that maybe i'm a cynic but i am going to wait and see on on the iran situation it has been going better than many of us had expected in we are hoping for the most peace possible so if that goes forward then that would be great but that's not you know that's not to forget. about the u.s. constitution i have to bring it up again because when we when we talk about it when we talk about. you know the idea of whether or not alliances are inherently dangerous you know how we go in we have the real world today that we're that we're
faced with and we're not going to break up these alliances we're not going to change u.s. foreign policy by having a well mannered discussion about it the only way that it's going to change is people in their own states people in their own local communities changing it and i would just say that people have to take a look at the war powers in the constitution and and take a look around you take a look around you at the warfare across the planet and understand that the u.s. constitution has nothing to do with that and if we want to fundamentally change if we do believe that these alliances are dangerous in the warfare in the killing that they lead to are dangerous then we have to go to basics and go to square one so i would advise americans to take a look at the defend the guard act and understand that twenty eight percent of the deployments to iraq in afghanistan were of their own states national guard troops if people took control of their foreign policy in creative ways on the local and
state level and in washington d.c. you know with the aid of maybe another edward snowden type episode or more leaks or liberations of documents then that's when you'll start to see washington d.c. change its foreign policy but not just based on you know a debate on pros and cons of the ideas of alliances in real politic people have to get involved in take back their foreign policy and americans americans shouldn't have to pay for all of these alliances and you know foreign entanglements. in the end how much they have paid in debt and in blood that it's not worth it in the american people have been shut out from this. the only way that they can take it back is through the state and local level first ok john i mean it's interesting when they had to say there because the american people did speak up when it came to syria when obama was threatening to attack the country there was this uproar you
know and but it seems to me people got better educated because my sense and in media americans are not very well educated when it comes to iran when it comes to israel when it comes to saudi arabia. you know americans don't know much at all about foreign policy and that's been true for a long time it's been called oftentimes isolationism and that goes back to you know centuries past but it's really it's really sort of more concern with the you know jobs and domestic issues the knowledge of foreign affairs is scant. you know and dog of mentioned at the beginning this shift towards isolationism i really don't see that i mean yes after a terrible horrible illegal murderous and costly war like iraq or before it vietnam you know the country tends to say ok let's step back from that let's step back from those excesses and focus on the home front that's that's natural and it
sort of ebbs and flows but it's it's hard and it's hard really to say that the united states has shifted in an isolationist direction we still have you know a thousand military bases but it doesn't you know all around the world. before before you jump in i just want to rebut something that you said i know we don't want to go back in the conversation but you know you talked about iran and the fact that we we went ahead with these discussions and negotiations despite the objections of israel and saudi arabia yeah that was after almost forty years of isolation we had many many countless opportunities to come to an agreement before that and we didn't primarily because we were beholden certain interests that were not our own you know in this cause all kinds of horrible things i mean right now the iranians are suffering under the one of the harshest sanctions regimes in the world that that's economic warfare of a very severe kind where people are not being able to get food on the table in
their currency is iraq eating they can't import the right kind of medicines i mean it's terrible what's happening in this kind of suffering just one example of it never needed to happen because we could have had a detente decades ago but it was it didn't happen because because of the u.s. relationship and and behold in this to do saudi arabia and israel ok down to new york we had jump in. well i think first of all i think your character the characterization of us iranian relations is a little bit simplistic there have been periods of time touch lee i mean we just think back to the opening of the war in afghanistan where there was tacit cooperation between the united states and iran in the overthrow of the taliban have been other periods of cooperation a bit i think their relationship has slowed it's has been largely won by tension and i think that's largely because in part because of the traumatic legacy
of usa rainy and his history particularly the hostage crisis from the united states and us in the overthrow of mohamed masonic but i think it's basically because of american foreign policy in american interest america had decided once the islamic republic was established that it wanted to contain iran and its pursuit of policy not because simply because john suggested in the interests of saudi arabia and israel but because it's how america how the united states has defined its own interests now that may be wrong that maybe john may think that that is. that's been the wrong policy and i and i think in some cases he has a point but i think we shouldn't blame whatever flaws or we see in american foreign policy on its allies that is really i think an excuse to let washington off the hook i want this is as well we agree here solution is to me and correct ok joe may
know it may be john if i get. out of time here but you know john some would claim that the u.s. has the wrong allies we look in the middle east i mean for the state of israel us didn't have any enemies in the middle east and now that has many a. countless number of enemies in the middle east now and that's not enough not to cast aspersions on the state of israel but i mean if you put all of your eggs in one basket. it's bound to be a blow back to you and this is what we've seen over decades well the relationship with israel is problematic in a lot of reasons not just said to to do with regional issues but also you know we pay them three billion dollars every year and we give them all of our you know highest tech weapons technology and so forth and yet they space if we spit in our face when we try to you know broker negotiations between israel and palestine and they do things that are clearly outside the wishes of the united states like continuing to build settlements. you know in the u.s.
continues to support them even even with this sort of defiance but i want to go back to something bob said we do agree that part of this this is a small issue that we're talking about in terms of entangling alliances and the terrible things that can occur because of them a lot of this is domestic us foreign policy and you know the the perception of people policymakers in washington what they think is the right kind of foreign policy. the global domination of the world this is essentially been the u.s. policy since world war two and especially the middle east where the united states wants to maintain absolute gemini and make all the other powers as weak as possible unless there behold in this there they obey our demands like israel sometimes you know this is this is a one small aspect of an overall grand strategy an overall foreign policy towards the world that is problematic and yes there are also problems with the united
states is perception of foreign policy so on that we agree ok on that note on what note of agreement thank you very much gentlemen many thanks my guests in washington new york and in los angeles and thanks to our viewers for watching us here darkie see you next time and remember crosstalk. you cannot preemptively restrict your freedoms because of the fear of what something or how something might be used everything that has ever been developed has been used for a bad purpose baseball bats which are fun for you know for baseball players to hit
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