George Kennan and the Wolfowitz Doctrine
Sunday, April 16, 2023 6:23 PM
What the hell am I doing? That is a question that really interests me.—Theodore Zeldin
Dear Friends + Interlocutors,
What are they trying to do, what do they want to accomplish, and why? With reference to the entrenched cabal that has been running Washington for decades, in particular since the end of the Cold War (1990), these basic questions have been racking my brain in recent weeks.
We’ve got to step back and look at the big picture, a larger context. Does the world's current predicament basically derive from the so-called Wolfowitz Doctrine of 1992, prepared under the stewardship of Dick Cheney at the Pentagon?
In the aftermath of the Soviet Union collapse (1989) and the U.S.-led successful ejection of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait (1991), Washington lost its bearings. Its collective mindset went fantee.
To quote from the Pentagon document, known as the Defense Planning Guidance:
“...The U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests.
"In non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. We must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”
Granted, such grandiosity and hubris may have been understandable under the circumstances. However, in retrospect it was not just outlandish, but most unwise. Instead of cashing the “peace dividend” on behalf of the American people thanks to the end of the Cold War, Washington ginned up another, open-ended mission almost immediately.
This unipolar-world crusade was advocated by private-agenda actors, neocons and neoliberals, who were themselves in the saddle in Washington carrying out policy.
A saner course of action would have been to call out of retirement the wise man of U.S. foreign policy, George Kennan, along with ace Pentagon analyst Chuck Spinney. The latter must be a Kennan enthusiast, because not too long ago he brought to my attention a mind-boggling 1987 statement, contained in Kennan’s book, At A Century’s Ending, Reflections 1982-1995:
“Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial complex would have to remain, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy.”
Was it the crux of the problem? The U.S. economy required a threat, real or imagined, to keep its economy humming. Simple as that? Perhaps it was intuitively understood by high Pentagon officials, acting as insiders and front-men for the military-industrial complex.
Ergo, the well-deserved “peace dividend” was not an option. H.W. Bush’s New World Order, an ego-trip presided over by Washington’s masterminds, was the alternative, the only solution.
If summoned to duty, Kennan and Spinney would have put their heads together to arrive at a peaceful and honest scenario for the U.S. to engage the world—in place of a fraudulent, self-serving crusade.
I’m thinking Kennan in charge at the State Department and Spinney at the Pentagon, both granted plenipotentiary powers by the White House to checkmate the mischief-makers. You can’t rewrite history, of course, but it is fun to try.
I’m not a fan of Gideon Rachman, chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times. He has become of late little more than a me-too shill for the Washington foreign policy establishment.
Back in November 2011, he wrote an informative review of Kennan’s definitive biography (by John Lewis Gaddis). Rachman recorded the following. It is all you need to know about George Kennan…
“After his retirement from active diplomacy, Kennan spent much of the rest of his life as a bitter critic of U.S. foreign policy and of American culture in general. Although some regard him as the first cold warrior, Kennan himself became an opponent of the Vietnam war and a passionate advocate of nuclear disarmament. Later, after the end of the cold war, Kennan fiercely criticized the policy of enlarging Nato to take in the countries that had once belonged to the Warsaw Pact, arguing that this was needlessly provocative towards Russia.”
The word “needlessly” is apt! Clearly, Kennan should be considered a wise man not just for his famous Long Telegram outlining the containment of the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the Second World War, but for everything else he wrote and lectured about thereafter.
Next to him, Washington luminaries like Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Mike Pompeo, Tom Friedman, Richard Haas, Robert Kagan, Tony Blinken etc. can be written off as morons and warmongers.
Which brings me to China. If we consider George Kennan’s just-quoted analysis, it means that Washington has been incentivized to make enemies and prestidigitate “threats”. Otherwise, the American economy might go into shock due to a contraction of the military-industrial-security complex.
This premise may not be one hundred percent operative, but the fact remains that Washington, for some as yet undiagnosed reason, has not incentivized itself to embrace new friends and act honestly in world affairs. One wonders why.
Its foreign policy track record has been intellectually dishonest, irrational, astonishingly hypocritical, selfish and violent. Do we just stand by and accept it? Do we pretend it is not happening?
This charade continues in the current U.S. confrontation with China, which is being targeted just like Russia. We have been propagandized to regard both nations as existential “threats” to America which must be dealt with in the name of “democracy”.
My common sense view is that China and Russia are being targeted simply because they have been successful, not because they are valid threats to the peace and prosperity of the U.S. or the world.
The war in Ukraine is the direct result of Washington's intrigues, pressure, plots and aggressive policies in eastern Europe and inside Ukraine itself. These have been thoroughly chronicled and exposed in the non-establishment media and most prominently by Professor John Mearsheimer and by the late, great Professor Stephen Cohen.
The outbreak of war was the inevitable result. My Democrat and Republican friends can express their self-righteous indignation with Vladimir Putin all they want. They fail to comprehend that their own government is ultimately to blame for the conflict. That realization would upend their world.
Indeed, those in charge in Washington secretly regard the war in Ukraine as a foreign policy success. From their crackbrained point of view, it has been a triumph. I agree. They have demonized Russia and cut Europe off from Russia, perhaps for generations. Mission accomplished. This is ominous and unnatural.
Does anyone believe that Washington honestly tried to bring peace to Ukraine and eastern Europe in the aftermath of the Cold War and more recently in the run-up to the present conflict?
The fuse was lit in 2014 when Washington engineered a coup in Kiev that overthrew the elected government. Next, Washington did everything it could to exacerbate and facilitate an internecine conflict between Moscow and Kiev.
In sum, Washington decided in the 1990s to continue the Cold War which it had won against the Soviet Union. It was relaunched in earnest against non-communist Russia when Vladimir Putin reformed and reformatted Russia.
This mischief-making endeavor has morphed into a hot war capable of ending in a nuclear exchange. The roadmap for all this was contained in the 1992 Pentagon document nicknamed the Wolfowitz Doctrine. It is the genesis.
The U.S. is at war with Russia, economically, militarily and six ways from Sunday. It is an undeclared war, indeed, unacknowledged and even denied by the White House. Normally, this would be viewed as a train wreck, a failure of U.S. foreign policy.
As for China, it is an opportunity not a threat. Taiwan is a non-issue. It has only become an issue because Washington decided to inject itself into this China affair. Official U.S. policy is that Taiwan is part of China and that China is one country. So why all the fuss? This was settled decades ago when Nixon visited China.
I have asked myself, what would George Kennan do? I’m confident he would not do what Washington is now frantically doing in confronting China.
Like Ukraine, Taiwan has been used as a wedge issue to irritate its large, powerful next-door neighbor. It is a pawn in a cynical game. Washington has even enlisted NATO and the EU in this fake crisis with China. Beijing must be amused as well as irritated.
The EU like the U.S. is committed to the “one China policy” but that has not prevented the German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, and the EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, from butting in and lecturing Beijing.
The child-like Baerbock has openly declared that Germany and Europe are at war with Russia. At least she is more honest than Biden. She is leader of the German “greens” and a supreme busybody who is leading Germany to ruin by jumping on Washington’s bandwagon.
On her first visit to China, now in progress, she informed China’s foreign minister Qin Gang that, “A military escalation in the Taiwan Strait, which 50 per cent of world trade flows through daily, would be a horror scenario for the whole world.” It sure would.
The golden quadrangle of China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan would be in harm’s way and the world’s economy would instantly collapse should a war break out anywhere in that vicinity. So why is Washington and its European vassals playing with fire?
Qin Gang acknowledged the obvious but blamed, “...separatists of the island’s independence movement”, who were receiving help and support from foreign powers. “That is the basic root of the trouble in the Strait of Taiwan.” I agree with Qin. Will grandstanding politicians in Washington persist in their idiocy?
China is now a responsible country and a respected world power due to its economic ascendancy. Again, it all goes back to Nixon’s visit to meet Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai before they left the world stage.
Nixon’s démarche normalized relations and brought China into the light. Otherwise, the Chinese might still be obsessing over Mao’s red book of quotations, and China could have remained a crazy country armed with hydrogen bombs.
Instead, China is an economic powerhouse and has been called the factory of the world. Ask yourself, where would Apple Computer, Amazon, Tesla and Walmart be without China? Not where they are. Americans have to face the fact that they are dependent upon China just like China is dependent upon America.
So why is Washington picking a fight with China? We are on a pathway to war for no good reason. It is the same blueprint Washington has followed with the Russia dossier. The Wolfowitz Doctrine is alive and thriving.
There is no threat from China. There is no threat from Russia. (Or was none until Washington injected itself into Ukraine, in effect adopting the country.) Far from a threat, I view China as an American asset, a kind of annex and a success story.
The Chicoms are not trying to destroy America and take over the world, as some of my right-wing friends ardently believe. America and the wide world outside of America have benefited greatly from the rise of China, indeed, from the rise of all of East Asia. Let’s continue to benefit from it.