Free and fair elections or US vital interests?


IN February 1996, The Heritage Foundation founder and former President, Edwin Feulner, wrote an essay titled, ‘What are America’s vital interests’ where he made a case for the US to push for its way in the community of nations as this was key for US’ survival.
He defined vital interests as developments that could concretely affect the security or economic future of America and its citizens.
He went on to admonish the American liberals for believing it was immoral for the US to have vital global interests because good or bad, these interests were pillars that ensured the US remained a global power.
Feulner gave out that the US vital interests were as follows:
“VITAL INTEREST #1: Safeguard US national security.
This means, above all, to protect America’s territory, borders and airspace – the biggest threat to the US remains long-range missiles armed with nuclear weapons.
Our response to this threat should include an anti-missile defense and a broad non-proliferation policy.
VITAL INTEREST #2: Prevent a major power threat to Europe, East Asia or the Persian Gulf.
Here threats include expansionist activities by Russia against her neighbours, an expansionist Iraq or Iran, or a nuclear-armed North Korea.
And we should not focus simply on immediate threats.
Today radical nationalism, Islamic fundamentalism, and although not as threatening as its original version neocommunism exist in places where the US has vital interests.
A word about China: The rulers in Beijing must learn that it is in the national interest of the US to stay a permanent Pacific power.
This means that we will not tolerate any forcible activity from mainland China against Taiwan.
Taiwan is much more than our 7th largest trading partner.
She has also become the model for a vigorous, democratic free-market society in Asia.
We will not tolerate an invasion, blockade or aggressive activity by mainland China against Taiwan.
VITAL INTEREST #3: Maintain access to foreign trade.
The greatest danger here comes not from outside US borders but from inside, from those who fear America cannot compete.
They favour the low-paying textile jobs of the past over the higher paying technology jobs of tomorrow.
They are blind to the regenerative power of the free market, which they believe in devoutly for the domestic economy but not for the world economy.
VITAL INTEREST #4: Protect Americans against threats to their lives and well-being.
The US has an obligation whenever possible to protect American citizens from terrorist activity and other international criminal activity.
VITAL INTEREST #5: Maintain access to resources.
The American economy depends on foreign oil, which now accounts for more than 50 percent of America’s oil consumption and is expected to provide an increasing share of future oil consumption.
A threat to our oil supply is a threat to our national interest. Tour the oil fields of Kuwait, as I did three months ago and you will see first-hand why we must maintain our access to vital natural resources.”
Fast-forward to April 2018, published an article penned by a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations, Ambassador Robert Blackwill titled, ‘Defending Vital US Interests: Policy Prescriptions for Trump’.
The first sentence in that article reads: “Here’s what the Trump administration should do to keep the country safe and prosperous.”
Ambassador Blackwill argues the US needs policies that defend its vital national interests, defined as conditions strictly necessary to safeguard and enhance the country’s survival as a free and secure nation.
He says these policies should:
– Prevent and deter the use, and reduce the threat, of nuclear and biological weapons, catastrophic terrorist attacks and cyberattacks against the US or its military forces abroad.
– Prevent the slow global spread of nuclear weapons, secure nuclear weapons and materials and reduce further proliferation of intermediate and long-range delivery systems for nuclear weapons.
– Maintain a regional and global balance of power that promotes peace and stability through domestic American robustness, US international primacy and strengthening and defending US alliance systems, including the alliance with Israel.
– Prevent the emergence of hostile major powers or failed states on US borders.
– Ensure the viability and stability of major global systems; trade, financial markets, supplies of energy and climate.
Much like Fuelner, Ambassador Blackwell says the US should allocate significant resources to Asia in order to contain China.
He says the US should
increase freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea to counter Chinese territorial claims and militarisation.
He also warns that the US must not ignore the threats Russia poses and as with China, it should engage and contain Russia.
The Council on Foreign Relations’ position on Zimbabwe and ZANU PF is very clear.
Over the years, it has hosted various sessions where key speakers have time and again echoed the key words that have been part of the narrative to ‘separate the people of Zimbabwe from ZANU PF’.
The Heritage Foundation also takes a similar direction.
Its senior policy analyst on Africa and the Middle East, Joshua Meservey, in April warned the US to ‘tread carefully’ when engaging President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The reason being: “China supports Mnangagwa as it did Mugabe, which will likely undermine the effectiveness of an accountability-based approach to the Zimbabwean Government.”
It is important to note that Feulner and Blackwill in their articulation of America’s vital interests do not make a case for democracy, the respect for human rights, global peace and security.
We have all heard the rhetoric, the justification of the US’ intervention and poking its nose in the internal affairs of the developing world being rooted in the notions of democratising, maintaining international peace and security and of course the respect for human rights.
Why would the US not consider these among its vital interests when engaging the outside world?
One is forced to deduce that the US’ interest in democracy, international peace and security and the respect for human rights is only self-serving.
These three issues are a façade that the US establishment uses in pursuit of its real American interests.
It explains why the US will make a case for Zimbabwe being an ‘outpost of tyranny’ and yet at the same time it considers some of the worst abusers on human rights in the Middle East as its closest allies.
The US will turn a blind eye to an army that shoots with impunity protesting women and children while at the same time that same US has been punishing Zimbabwe for righting a colonial wrong (Land Reform Programme).
Global dominance through military might, access to resources and foreign trade are the US’ main concern.
If human rights were a real cause of concern, then the US would be the epitome of the adage – charity begins at home.
The death of black men, women and children on America’s streets at the hands of law enforcement officers is a serious matter, and if it was any other country where this was happening, the US would be taking action.
In July 2013, then President Barack Obama said: “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son.
Another way of saying that is Martin could have been me 35 years ago.
And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognise that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that – that doesn’t go away.”
African-Americans need justice, but they have to wait because their Government is busy democratising the developing world.
This scenarios reminds me of a comment one of my political science professors made concerning the 1954 Supreme Court ruling on the Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka which declared that segregation of public schools unconstitutional. He said the ruling was motivated by the need for America to convince African states not to take up communism.
The US would have had a hard time selling itself as a worthy ally given that it was failing to treat blacks within its borders with some modicum of civility.
Anyway, I have digressed.
Zimbabwe has raw materials; as a country that has been semi-stagnant for close to two decades economy-wise, its potential is high, and with this, the possibility of it being a regional power is also high.
Therein lies the US’ interest in Zimbabwe.
The song and dance about free, fair credible elections, democracy and human rights is a mirage because we all know America is and will continue to be in bed with some unsavoury characters as long as these characters protect its ‘vital interests’.


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