America’s juxtaposed crisis creation and crisis management

ISIS operations in Iraq, that are undermining the unity of the country, have made us rethink the U.S. foreign policy of the past decade

Maria Dubovikova

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The U.S.’s hawkish political establishment is ready to face a menace to America’s national interests and security that contradict the will of Washington. Among declared threats to U.S. national interests are certainly those that are common for the whole world, such as terrorism and religious extremism.

The U.S. tries to control and manage all problems at one time, not troubling itself with elaborating on special approaches to every case. Most likely for the U.S. administration, it’s easier to spend $5 billion on a coup in one East European state, than to spend this money on highly qualified staff specializing in the post-Soviet arena.

ISIS operations in Iraq, that are undermining the unity of the country, have made us rethink the U.S. foreign policy of the past decade.

ISIS operations in Iraq, that are undermining the unity of the country, have made us rethink the U.S. foreign policy of the past decade

Maria Dubovikova

After the 9/11, the threat of al-Qaeda appeared to be dreadfully dangerous for the future and stability of the international community (and there is no need to elaborate on the U.S. role in the rise of al-Qaeda). U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan had wide support and its reasonability was mostly unquestioned.

After a decade of foreign presence on Afghan land, there was clear understanding that despite all hopes, they have to stay for a prolonged period of time otherwise there will little positive prospects. Neither al-Qaeda nor Taliban are destroyed. Taliban still controls and projects influence on large territories, terrorist attacks are still the rule, not the exception.

Democracy is just the trembling façade of an extremely fragile political system. Dubious drone strikes in Afghan and Pakistani territories, which cause more deaths among the civilian population than terrorists, undoubtedly have a destabilizing effect. Drones are becoming the symbols of the heartless and mechanical U.S. foreign policy, which has gotten more haters than sympathizers, and, as a consequence, less support of U.S. actions on the ground.

Iraq on thin ice

More than ten years after the U.S. intervention, Iraq is in a potent condition balancing between complete collapse, civil war and total chaos, where the whole region risks being sucked in. For the moment.

ISIS controls territories in Syria and Iraq comparable with the size of Jordan. The only question that matters for the moment, is what did the U.S. do for the country it had invaded while declaring good intentions to liberate it from a bloody dictator?

The declared goals were far from the true intentions, but the chaos there now is not in U.S. interests either. Bush’s invasion was a huge mistake, but the inheritance of those mistakes lay directly upon the shoulders of the next administration, Obama’s. His withdrawal from Iraq looks deliberate enough in terms of its possible consequences for international stability.

Having invaded Iraq, the U.S. automatically took responsibility for the situation there. And it is not so easy to abdicate. The democratic facade was built, as it was in Afghanistan also.

The U.S. has provided the Iraqi army with arms and has trained soldiers. But what about helping society to overcome deep chasms cemented by the totalitarian rule of Saddam Hussain, which cracked right after his fall? Or does the U.S. consider that the Iraqi society can be managed only by the force of weapons? Now the U.S. accuses the current Iraqi government of incapability to manage the existing problems inside the society, not seeing itself guilty for the mess.

Libya, once stable, was bombed after the U.N. Security Council endorsed a no fly-zone resolution, and now it is a hotbed of a growing instability, terrorism and other security challenges, that are not manageable at all, neither for the Libyan “democratically elected” government nor for the external players.

To destroy is simpler than to build. The U.S. has elaborated effective mechanisms of destruction so it builds houses of cards hoping for them to be solid, while the ground trembles.

This time, U.S. foreign policy is just an extremely dangerous combination of effective crisis creation and failed crisis management. But mistakes always strike back.


Maria Dubovikova is a co-founder of IMESClub (International Middle Eastern Studies Club), IMESClub Executive Director and member of the Club Council, author of several scientific articles and participant of several high level international conferences. She is a permanent member of the Think-tank under the American University in Moscow. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia) (honors diploma), she had been working for three months as a trainee at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) in Paris. Now she is a PhD Candidate at MGIMO (Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Russia). Her research field is Russian foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, the policy of France and the US towards the Mediterranean, theory of international relations, humanitarian interventions and etc. Fluently speaks and writes in French and English. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme

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