The Decline and Fall of American Foreign Policy

U.S. foreign policy has long trended toward dark places. Under this administration, that has accelerated

By Patrick Lawrence and cross-posted from Salon

I am with Craig Murray now that the Trump administration has determined to scuttle the accord governing Iran’s nuclear programs. “This moment will be seen by historians as a key marker in U.S. decline as a world power,” the former British diplomat wrote the day after the White House announcement. I am with the friend who sent a note after the Senate hearings Wednesday on Gina Haspel’s nomination as director of the CIA: “I think this might lead to some careful re-evaluation as to how one continues to think of the dear old US of A.”

It is hard to think of anything other than the dear old US of A at this moment, however much one may want to think about an infinitude of other things: The complacency of American life begins to assume a pitiful triviality — providing one is sentient, has a conscience and is not paid to think in conformity with orthodoxy. America has long headed for trouble, of course. Last week it took a very steep step further down into it. It is getting too dark to see a way out of this.

I write this not only in response to the detonation of the agreement with Iran, unconscionable as this is. Did you see the video taken as police dragged Ray McGovern, the truth-telling former spook, from the Haspel hearings Wednesday, the day after the Iran announcement? It is shameful. But it is not the thought of a torturer in high office, either.

As of last week, Washington has assembled a considerable list of dangers and disasters, and they are of a piece. I propose we look at them this way, for it is this larger context we have to think about. The Trump administration now has a clear foreign policy, all fleshed out to see. It may be shaped by the president, or the president may be the ventriloquist’s dummy of his minders. This remains hard to discern. But either way, it comes to this: America grows ever more indifferent to alliances other than those dependent on a common adversary. Friendships with other nations seem no longer to matter, or even whether America is admired or respected. All signs indicate we now enter that late-imperial phase when power alone, raw power, is all we have to show the world

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