How you understand foreign policy decision making will forever change once you understand it’s all in the money
One very important thing I learned in my grad school intelligence courses was that to truly understand what the hell is going on in the world is to understand what the hell is going on within a culture. Immerse yourself. Know the culture, know customs, interactions, partnerships, religious beliefs, even understanding holidays is important.
If you don’t, you will look through the microscope with the wrong lens–yours–instead of seeing the world through their eyes, their understanding.
This understanding can sometimes lead to unmanageable spiderwebs of information that could throw you off track (hell, it could throw off entire regions). A second valuable lesson was to always ask why–how do those involved stand to benefit? What are their intentions? When you ask those questions, you will find your answer.
Global politics, international relations, whatever you want to call it, is complicated. It is complicated for the most educated analyst, but it sure is fun trying to connect the different pieces. Below is my short analysis of what I make of recent economic policy decisions and issued sanctions, based on what I know about our capitalistic culture.
Some view the actions of President Trump as insular, that he is just a businessman going from one business deal to the next without concern of the complicated interconnectedness of the world-that he has no idea what the hell is going on the world. One might say he doesn’t understand the valuable principles above regarding understanding another’s culture. But, he does understand money.
But, is it worth it? I suppose that depends on your values.
One decision might make good business sense, but it alienates an entire nation. Another makes good business sense but it alienates yet another. The justification of such decisions is that we are saving lives, because what better way of asserting your influence and garnering acceptance than to do it in the name of improving the lives of people? Media does a great job of ensuring we see the suffering. But are we saving lives, or are we creating uncertainty and instability in these regions in the name of money and power? In the name of capitalism?
Cue The Instability
All too often sanctions are simply an expression of power and do little to alter the behavior of the nation. Instead, turmoil, collapse of regional partnerships, increase in infighting and crisis, and people die. Sanctions produce unsafe environments. It harms the civilian more than government.
Let’s review some of the sanctions issued in the last couple of years. Have sanctions had any effect on stopping Iran from missile testing? Did Moscow retreat from Crimea? No one should expect that sanctions will change the behavior of these nations.
So, what do they have to offer, if not a stop to atrocities?
Manipulation of Regional Economies
Prompting instability to promote one’s foreign policy objectives and safeguard their interests is a common strategy. In our case, our economic interest. Remember, we live in a capitalist society. It is a cultural thing. Maybe it really is just about the money and influence, not so much protecting the lives of our people.
Oil production. Russia and Saudia Arabia are the two largest oil producers in the world and stand to assert their influence on the world in a variety of ways if certain economic plans become reality. Not on our watch.
Recent sanctions and the trade wars have limited demand in oil. In Russia, overproduction and low demand drives the oil price way down, slowing the economy. Wait for the collapse. We gain control of their market and walk away with the spoils. Their people suffer. Russia loses influence.
Iran, Russia, and Oil. Russia is a partner with Iran in oil. Earlier last year news sources reported that Russia was considering a $50B investment in Iranian Oil & Gas.
Ironically, sanctions were issued for Iran’s involvement in Syria, in which we know Iran will not stop committing atrocities. We don’t do this to stop the insurgency. No– Cut off Iran as their Syrian involvement as a guise. $50B investment in Iranian Oil & Gas blocked.
Block Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Europe. Nord Stream 2 would double the amount of gas Russia can funnel. Do this by threatening sanctions to those involved. Gain control of the market and walk away with the spoils.
There have been many instances of strategically created instability among nations. If ever you want to understand what the hell is going on in the world, also follow the money. Who has the most to lose? Who stands to benefit the most? While I wish nations had more honorable reasons for making decisions, I am cynical. The world made me that way.
Damn money, oil, and lies.