US President Donald Trump’s gyrating foreign policy has just set the stage for another catastrophe in the eastern Mediterranean region. America’s waning influence on the world stage comes at the most inopportune time. When regional powers flex their muscles like Turkey is trying to, no good will come for a world of people already stressed to the limit over pandemics and civil strife. Just when America should be a guiding lite for peaceful negotiations, internal forces seem to be obliterating such a legacy. Our policy is in the toilet, here’s the latest proof.
According to sources, President Trump and Turkish President Recep Erdogan have come to terms on how Libya should be run. More importantly, the US leader seems to have given the green light for Turkey to step up military and geopolitical influence across the region. Here on the island of Crete, in the flight path of Turkish jets, the Greeks are not happy. Recent threats by Erdogan have the Greek armed forces on high alert. And NATO’s bulwark Greece is expecting Trump’s support?
The mixed signals from Trump’s administration show the downward spiral of US influence in the world, and most of all, my country’s expanding lack of credibility. In early July Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer told the world Washington is deeply concerned over Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean. Palmer had this to say on the Turkey-Greece frictions:
“We were clear about our expectations in our private and public messages, about how we would all expect the Eastern Mediterranean to behave and support international law and act in a way that favors security. We are quite clear in our discussions with our Turkish partners about our concerns.”
The Trump administration showed support for the Cairo initiative launched by his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for an immediate ceasefire in Libya. The US president came out supporting a call for a return to the search for a peaceful solution to the crisis. However, the Secretary of State and the State Department don’t want the Cairo method in place. America’s divided control mechanisms mirror Trump’s “loose cannon” behavior. It’s as if America is a rudderless juggernaut steering for some indescribable disaster. It’s as if the president, corporate America, and the so-called “deep state” are warring factions of some mafia-like organization. Read what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had to say about America’s interest in the region:
“This is an area of great strategic importance to the United States. We are committed to deepening and strengthening corporate security relations and the broader relations we have throughout the region, including the Republic of Cyprus, as well as with our allies such as Turkey, Greece, Israel, and other countries in the region. So we’re focusing heavily on developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. “
I cannot be the only person seeing various narratives here. Pompeo, who’s inextricably tied to the “deep state”, expresses a CIA-like long view, while at the same time revealing America’s corporate control matrix. And on the other page, Donald Trump plays the wobbly leadership monkey, a kind of rodeo clown to confuse the bull of public opinion. Or in more certain terms, the world sees America fragmented to the point of falling apart. And this does not spin out as credible or stable.
Meanwhile, here in Greece, the people ready themselves psychologically for a conflict with Turkey. How could they not? Recent Greece-Turkey friction over maritime rules and offshore oil and gas drilling came to the point of the crisis earlier, but now the “ultimatum” stage seems to have passed. Greece’s minister of state, George Gerapetritis told reporters the other day:
“Our neighbor has to come to terms with the fact that we are not powerless; that we have the ability to mobilize international organizations that we did not have previously.”
Now Ankara wants to “talk” instead of rattling sabers, but not because of a steadfast American policy of peace. It appears as if the individual NATO states are on their own in hammering out accords at this stage.
Returning to the Libya situation we see Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkey working in Libya in an expanded effort to not only lay claim to large areas of the Mediterranean Sea and the potential natural gas deposits under it but to expand Turkish influence in the world. Ostensibly, Libya under a Turkish supported regime would have a partner state to back maritime borders. Even UN officials agree Turkey’s Libya play has economic designs as a core.
Pompeo and “corporate security” in the region. Erdogan and the Turkish effort to get oil and gas. Greece and Cyprus caught in the middle. And the American leader’s wishy-washy foreign policy fumbling is a recipe for disaster. Erdogan is trying to suppress Libyan commander Khalifa Hifter’s bid to oust the Government of National Accord (GNA) put in place by the UN, the same people who overthrew the only stability Libya ever knew, under Muammar Gaddafi. Ideally, it would be the US, Russia, France, the UK, China, and other key nations working together to set a tone of stability in the region. Or at least America would take the lead and pressure for peaceful compromise. But this is not happening. To make things worse, when Russia, China, or other nations bid to formulate a solution, Pompeo and his elite neoliberal handlers go mad dog on any initiative.
So, at the end of the day what should the world expect from Trump’s America? Nothing. The rest of the world is justified in only fearing what the dying hegemony can and will do militarily, corporately, and in the interest of the western world order that’s dominated the world the last seventy-five years. We’re entering a very dangerous time though, make no mistake. Still, world leaders would be well advised to take any policy or deal the US makes, with that proverbial grain of salt. Who knows what to believe anymore?
*Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”