On this edition of Parallax Views, we have another double feature. First up, a 45 minute conversation with Juan Cole, proprietor of the Informed Comment blog and a noted commentator and scholar on the modern Middle East, unpacking a recent New York Times article by Max Fischer about a study indicating that U.S. allies are driving much of the world’s democratic decline. In a recent piece for the Informed Comment blog, Prof. Cole argues that U.S. foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, has never, in reality, about Democracy promotion and that the rise of authoritarian regimes allied to the U.S. like Saudi Arabia are the fruits born from a grand strategy that prioritized “oil, absolutism, and anti-communism” during the Cold War. In this regard we discuss the Iran coup of 1953 as well as the U.S.’s seeking to obtain cheap petroleum for European allies during the Cold War and how this relates to the relationship between countries like the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Syria. We also delve rather deeply into other issues that informed this period in the history of U.S. foreign policy like distrust of Arab nations and specifically Arab Nationalism, President Dwight Eisenhower’s “two-pronged approach” to dealing with anti-colonial movements, U.S. foreign policy and Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, post-Cold War U.S. foreign policy and the recession of anti-communist concerns in that policy after the fall of the Soviet Union, the “War on Terror” and Islamic fundamentalism as the new enemy, Islamophobia and U.S. ally France’s illiberal after the 2015 ISIL attacks in Paris, U.S. foreign policy depends on who the enemy is, examples of U.S. not supporting Democracy during the War on Terror, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and the Arab Spring revolts in the Obama era, the military coup d’état in Egypt in the Obama years and U.S. aid, the Bush administration and the Iraq War, Saudi Arabia and oil, OPEC, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), gulf monarchies and the coup in Tunisia, gas prices, Saudi Arabia and 9/11 (Juan has a different take than previous guests of the program), the death of Jamal Khashoggi and how it embarrasses the U.S., Biden as harder on Saudi Arabia in rhetoric but not in action, the Asia Pivot and the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, thinking in Washington that the Middle East isn’t a fruitful place to put much foreign policy focus on, electric cars as a death knell for the Saudi economy, U.S. and Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Iran, and more!
Then, Mike Swanson of Wall Street Window, and author of the book The War State and Why the Vietnam War (also, as a full disclosure, a sponsor of Parallax Views), to discuss a fascinating New York Times article on the Biden administration’s posture towards China and Washington’s concerns over hearing “echoes of the ’50” when it comes to the question of a New Cold War. We also discuss National Security Advisor’s emphatic comments about how we are in competition with China rather than a “New Cold War”. Mike believes that Washington may be hoping for a “play” Cold War with China rather than a full-on Cold War. This would benefit certain political actors, due to China being an issue of bipartisan interest to many voters, and the military-industrial complex. Due to the nature of the global economy and the reliance the U.S. has on China and vice-versa, Mike believes a full-on New Cold War is unlikely. We also discuss the recent nuclear submarine deal involving the U.S., Australia, and England as well as the breakdown between communications between the U.S. and China during the Trump Presidency, Trump’s trade war with China and China’s confusion over it, the blockades against that the U.S. and U.S.S.R. launched against each other and why that is unlikely to happen between the U.S. and China, Philip Zelikow’s CFR report seeking to foment a strategy to avoid a hot war with China, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson’s comments about a Pentagon war game simulation involving Taiwan and China, Biden walking back comments about being willing to commit troops to support Taiwan if necessary, the use of the term “industrial policy” in the NYT article, keeping tensions afloat while avoiding a full-on Cold War and how that would benefit the military-industrial complex, the War on Terror and the Asia Pivot, the risks of escalation and tension with China, the arms race, concern over a future nuclear arms race, and more in this brisk 25-minute conversation with Mike Swanson.