OpEd: Monetizing US foreign policy

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Have you noticed a rather large change in our dealings with other countries? Here's a clue.

Everything hinges on money. Forget about the U.S. being a "force for good". Listen up other countries: If you want to make nice with us, show us the money.

We used to offer aid and technical support to others - as key components to our help for disadvantaged areas. Diplomacy to encourage others to act ethically in a world of conflict.

Humanity with a touch of humility to shine lights on other countries that trample human rights.

Concern for business practices that foster workers' rights and the environment. (What a "waste of words" today.) Building coalitions of countries to advocate and do what was right.

America First is exactly what it says. We care about us and we do so unfortunately at the expense of others. "Win / Win" is no longer a concept with currency. Now, it's "We win / You lose."

We pick fights with NATO and our allies over money. We do away with multilateral trade agreements in favor of bilateral ones — where we can lessen the power of other countries acting together, so we can better "bully" them. Bullying is easy for us — because we're the elephant in the room. No one wants to lose access to our economy. We can throw our weight around and basically get what we want, which basically means giving others erect "middle fingers."

What a way to win respect and friends. (By the bye, we did used to have friends )

If we don't get our way, then we throw hissy-fits and slap on either tariffs or sanctions — or both.

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Rules of the road established over decades - from either The World Bank or the International Monetary Fund - are thrown into a dust heap of global disorder. I mean, who needs them? And The UN? Ha! We're the all powerful U. S. of A. Remember: "We win / You lose."

Back to money: In recent meetings with MBS of Saudi Arabia, smiles abounded while we pull out a board detailing $12.5 billion worth of proposed Saudi purchases from us. A win for us!

Just ignore Saudi human rights, a dismembered journalist or matters Yemen More recently, when meeting with the Emir of Qatar, our press conference was centered on how many jet planes were going to be bought from us.

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Jared Kushner's Israeli / Palestinian Peace Plan had nothing to do with resolving grievances or promoting peace, but rather was simply a plan to bribe the Palestinians so they would 1) shut up and 2) agree to accept a fictional $50 billion in dough from neighbors for economic development. No wonder the Palestinians stayed home when the announcement was made. Trade with China? What do you bet that when any ink dries on an agreement, it will not even touch legitimate issues related to decades-long technology theft, transforming their financial system, or opening up their markets. A prediction: All that will result will be an agreement by China to buy more of our stuff to make it look like payments are more in balance, which will most likely help farmers who are getting killed today.

The agreement will be touted as a HUGE win, when in fact it will not even pay lip service to key issues that drive us apart.

And apart from trade, note our current engine for diplomacy, the State Department, has been basically eviscerated by budget cuts. We have lost countless civil servants who were dedicated to the task of earning worldly respect for us. The image of America around the world has collapsed. We have lost so much - and the needle is still pointing down. This loss will no doubt take decades to regain, if even possible.

Every time we tell developing countries to buzz off by reducing our diplomatic and aid footprints, China has a funny way of stepping in to replace us. Africa, which has been called a "country" by our leader, has also been labeled as nothing more than a collection of "S-hole" areas.

Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala? Cut 'em off let them fend for themselves there's really no money in them for us.

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The "pivot to Asia?" Forget it.

Brexit? Sounds good so we can get a sweet-heart bilateral deal with the Brits.

The rest of Europe — our liberal allies? Why care?

North Korea? Boy, its East coast sure would be a great spot for some big hotels and casinos.

And Russia? Damn a big hotel right in the middle of Moscow would sure make the cash registers sing for us. And I haven't even mentioned Latin America.

Money. That's all that matters today. Kind of amazing, considering the 2017 Tax Act blew a potential $2 trillion hole in our national debt for the next decade - and has us operating with an annual deficit hovering around a trillion dollars this fiscal year alone, even at a time of a strong economy. But money is all that counts, even though it seems like no one in our national leadership can count.

Bob Wells lives in South



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