Thursday, March 23, 2017

Asking foolish questions ...

but never the ones that really matter.

Richard Falk at ForeignPolicyJournal
Asking Foolish Questions About Serious Issues

Does it serve the interests of the United States to unilaterally set the rules of the game in international relations?

When the Clinton campaign started bitching about Russia interfering in US elections by hacking into the DNC, I was struck by their excesses of outrage and the virtual absence of any acknowledgement that the United States has been interfering in dozens of foreign elections for decades with no apparent second thoughts. CNN and other media bring one national security expert after another to mount various cases against Putin and the Kremlin and to insist that Russia is up to similar mischief in relation to the upcoming French elections. And never do they dare discuss whether such interference is a rule of the game, similar to espionage, or whether what was alleged to have been done by the Russians might lead the US political leaders and its intelligence agencies to reconsider its own reliance on such tactics to help sway foreign elections....

....There are three appropriate questions to pose: (1) What can we do to increase cyber defenses to prevent future intrusions, and restore domestic confidence that elections in the United States reflect the unimpeded will of the citizenry and are not the result of machinations by outsiders? (2) Do we possess the means to ascertain the impact of such intrusions on the outcome of the 2016 national elections, and if such investigation points beyond a reasonable doubt to the conclusion that without the intrusion Clinton would have won, should that void the result, and impose on Congress the duty to arrange for a new emergency electoral procedure for selecting a president free from taint (especially if the Trump campaign aided and abetted the Russian intrusion)? (3) Are there ways to bolster norms against interventions in the internal affairs of sovereign states that offer protection against such interference? Note that giving convincing answers to these questions is not a simple matter, and requires serious reflection and debate...

...Does it serve the interests of the United States to set the rules of the game in international relations with respect to nuclear policy, making little pretense of being bound by the standards imposed on other sovereign states, especially those non-nuclear states accused of taking steps to acquire the weaponry? The tigers control the mice, and the idea of a rule of law that treats equals equally is completely foreign to the American mindset in the 21st century when it comes to the role of hard power, security policy, and grand strategy in international life, but interestingly, but much less so in the context of trade and investment. This distinction is worth pondering.

In other words when it comes to security policy and grand strategy, there are two basic rules of contemporary geopolitics that contravene the golden rule of ethical behavior:

Rule #1: Do not allow others to do unto you what you frequently do to others (the Russian hacking discourse);

Rule #2: Do unto others what you would never accept others doing unto you (cyber attacks on Iran and North Korea).....

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