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Rogue States And Loony Tunes

Politics / US Politics Jul 30, 2014 - 06:41 PM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop

Politics

The Term No Longer Exists
According to the semi-official Encyclopedia of the New American Nation, published by the University of Michigan, the term “rogue state” ceased being used by any US agency or politician in year 2000. It says American foreign policymakers had used the terms "rogue," "outlaw," and "backlash" states almost interchangeably as the Cold War reached its end. It says that as early as July 1985, President Reagan asserted that "We are not going to tolerate attacks from outlaw states by the strangest collection of misfits, loony tunes, and squalid criminals since the advent of the Third Reich". It was during Clinton's two administrations that “rogue state” had its heyday.


The Clinton administrations applied this label to five regimes: Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, and Libya. It defined “rogue state behavior” as frequently aggressive and defiant, coordinated between themselves, and intent on suppressing human rights while promoting radical ideologies. The definition went on to say that rogue states have a chronic inability to engage constructively with the outside world, exist inside a siege mentality, and attempt to develop weapons of mass destruction and long-range missile delivery systems.

To be sure this meant that as “sole super-power” the US had an obligation or responsibility “to neutralize and contain” them, and perhaps eventually transform them into good global citizens. Interestingly enough, as already noted the term fell off the teleprompters of all US politicians by the year 2000.

Conversely, the earlier term “outlaw state”  remained and became increasingly hard-edge and defined.  By the end of the Clinton era and the start of the George W. Bush era, American foreign policymakers had defined The Four Transgressions of the outlaw states. These four transgressions were to pursue the development or acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, support terrorism, severely abuse their own citizens, and stridently criticize the United States.

My Rogue States are not Your Rogue States
Defining outlaws was easier than defining rogues, which in any case has non-pejorative meanings as well as bad ones. As two specific cases, states like Syria and Pakistan were hardly paragons of rectitude and frankly “rogueish”, but were not added to the US State department list of outlaw states. This was because the US hoped that Syria could play a constructive role in the Palestine-Israel "peace process," and because Washington had long and close relations with Islamabad left over from the Cold War when Pakistan played the US and China card, because India aligned itself with the USSR and then Russia.

Afghanistan and Sudan, for example, could be added as outlaw states, to replace Syria and Pakistan. Other states like Serbia and Iraq could be added and withdrawn with the vagaries of US foreign policy. By 1998, the Central Intelligence Agency supported a variety of covert actions designed to overthrow Saddam Hussein, while Congress approved the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998 aimed at providing Iraqi opposition groups with increased financial assistance.

As the variable geometry, one size does not fit all application of The Four Transgressions shuffled the list of Outlaw States, usually adding to it, the US found it increasingly difficult to get support for military or other action against these pariahs from its “traditional allies” of the EU28, Japan, Canada, Australia and others.

Today, the transparent and to date ineffective attempts to paint Vladimir Putin as an outlaw (if not a rogue) heading an Outlaw State is encountering serious problems with those “traditional allies” who are not necessarily automatic allies. Their economic exposure to Russian sanctions, described under the Four Transgressions doctrine as the first line of containment to apply, is much higher than the exposure of the US.

The Nuclear Bugaboo
The recent history of US relations with North Korea exemplifies the massive fear among US foreign policy makers that other states will possess the same weapons as the US possesses. Firstly crippling the economy of an Outlaw State by “economic containment”, then moving up to military invasion and occupation is thwarted when the target state has nuclear weapons. When the boot of the first US grunt hits the ground, all national nuclear weapons and installations will be blown sky high.

This is the ultimate kamikaze threat – and it works. North Korea has applied it.

In October 1994 the U.S.–North Korea Agreed Framework was signed, committing North Korea to freeze nuclear weapons development followed by the “eventual destruction” of its nuclear weapons grade producing reactors. In exchange the United States, South Korea, and Japan promised to provide two light-water nuclear reactors that would be virtually impossible to use to produce weapons grade materials, along with petroleum to fuel North Korea's conventional power plants and food assistance to alleviate near-famine conditions.  Since that time various formats of this agreement have been offered, rejected, renegotiated and redrawn and the Outlaw State of North Korea has not been “bombed into the stone age”.

Similarly, Iran represented another case in which altered circumstances challenged the outlaw or rogue-state strategy. Each election of a new Iranian president, since 1997, has led to US calls for a "dialogue between civilizations" leading towards the normalizing of relations. Meanwhile, Iran's nuclear program which is entirely able to produce Dirty Bombs (if not “clean” ones) continues. Simply due to Iran's national nuclear power program dating from the 1950s, launched by Dwight Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace program, the build-up of nuclear installations and materials is massive, and Iran is “invasion proof”.

The nuclear bugaboo of the US also leads to the fantastic hypocrisy of at least tolerating, and probably directly aiding Israel's nuclear weapons program – of a rogue state that refuses to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty or allow IAEA inspection. Israel is accepted as a “de facto nuclear power”. As a result, the US backs off.

Toning Down the Rhetoric
By at latest year 2000, there was a belated realization that calling states "rogues" might in many cases prove counterproductive and in June 2000 US departments and agencies dropped the term altogether. Other synonyms like outlaw states and "states of concern" were now used. Then Secretary of State Albright emphasized that the change in name did not imply that the United States now approved of the behavior of these regimes: "We are now calling these states 'states of concern' because we are concerned about their support for terrorist activities, their development of missiles, and their desire to disrupt the international system."

The State Dept at the time had its officials acknowledge that the "rogue state" term had been eliminated because some of the targeted countries—such as North Korea, Iraq, Libya and Iran—had “taken steps to meet American demands” and had complained that they were still being branded with the old label. By 2003 Iraq was invaded by the US, and in 2011 Libya was subjected to “regime change” military attack by the US, France and UK.

As for supporting terrorist organizations and promoting terrorism, US aid to Syrian rebels fighting the regime of Bashr el-Assad in Syria has since 2011 cost more than 200 000 lives, but that only proves your terrorists are not my terrorists. As numerous analysts and historians of US foreign policy have remarked, the “rogue state doctrine” inevitably risked exposing the United States to charges of arrogance and imperiousness. For a downsized USA in a multi polar world the doctrine is now dead.

By Andrew McKillop

Contact: xtran9@gmail.com

Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2014 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

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