Mohsen Abdelmoumen: Why do you qualify 2016 year of barbarism in one of your articles?
Ben Schreiner: In reality, we have been living in well over a decade of barbarism. That being the barbarism the U.S. unleashed upon the world with the launch of its 2001 global “war on terror.” 2016, though, appears headed towards a dangerous deepening of that barbarism. The global economy, never fully recovered from the crash of 2008, is once again greatly imperiled. All the recessionary warning lights are now flashing for anyone to see. Meanwhile, geopolitical tensions, exacerbated by the economic crisis, are currently at a precarious state not seen since probably prior to the two world wars of the 20th century. It cannot be papered over that nuclear powers currently find themselves at loggerheads at volatile flash points ranging from Ukraine, to Syria, to the South China Sea. The future, of course, is not preordained, but 2016 certainly appears headed on a trajectory of further barbarism.
We notice that the debate of presidential elections in the USA does not contain stakes and sees Tartuffe’s appearance like Donald Trump. How do you explain this level reduction in the quality of debates?
I think the cartoonish nature of U.S. presidential politics, most evident in the rise of a figure like Trump, is reflective of the crisis of U.S. imperialism. With its economic hegemony waning, Washington has necessarily had to turn to more and more naked military aggression abroad. But wars can never be wholly contained abroad; they inevitably come back home. Thus we see things like the militarization of domestic U.S. police agencies, the National Security Agency’s domestic dragnet, and, of course, ever more brazen political corruption. These developments have worked to steadily chip away at the façade of American democracy. You simply can’t have democracy at home and imperialism abroad. The effects of this inherent contradiction of modern America, then, can no doubt be seen in the quality of not only the presidential candidates, but of the larger political debate as well.
After the scandal of Benghazi, there was the scandal of Hillary Clinton’s emails. How Mrs. Clinton can she stands for the presidential election? How do you explain this behavior? Is it contempt towards the Americans, does she bet on the short memory of the voters, or is she the joker of powerful lobbies?
It’s likely a combination of the three. Although her record of service to powerful lobbies (Wall Street and AIPAC, in particular) is more influential in her being able to remain the most likely to win the presidency, despite her myriad scandals.
The United States and France call an intervention against Daesh in Libya and they solicited Algeria to help them. Do you think that it is in interest of Algeria to get involved in a war resulting from the chaos seeded by France during its military intervention in Libya and in all Sahel?
I’m not one to say what would or wouldn’t be in Algeria’s own interest. But the historical record is fairly unequivocal in demonstrating that those states that partner with Western powers in their imperial endeavors are seldom well served.
Some of our sources in the intelligence evoke increasingly a strategic redeployment of Daesh towards Libya, do you think that interventions via bombing will solve the problem in Libya and in the Sahel? On what force on the ground can count the Westerners in case of intervention?
I think if the U.S. “war on terror” has proven anything; it is that Islamic radicalism cannot be defeated by American military force. Wherever the U.S. has intervened militarily under the pretext of fighting terror we have seen al-Qaeda, Daesh, and related groups grow in strength. The most famous case being Iraq, where the U.S. helped to midwife al-Qaeda into that country by invading in 2003. Given this, it takes a leap of faith to believe that further Western bombing in Libya and the Sahel will somehow be any different.
Do you think that the agreement on the Iranian nuclear will not be revised in case of victory of Hillary Clinton?
No matter who is elected the next president, there will be elements within the U.S. government that will seek to undo the Iranian nuclear deal. These pro-Israel elements have long ago established themselves in both main political parties (the Democrats and Republicans), ensuring they are positioned to push their agenda no matter the ebbs and flows of domestic partisan politics.
We noticed that Israel and Saudi Arabia were upset by the signature of agreement with Iran, will the rapprochement of the United States with Iran resist to the reluctance of the Israelis and of the Saudi?
Well, it is worth noting that the Iranian nuclear deal has divided the American foreign policy elite. One segment of the U.S. elite is so pro-Israel that anything contrary to Israeli interests is falsely held to be contrary to U.S. interests as well. This neoconservative faction is obviously more receptive to the pressures of Israel and Saudi Arabia in terms of seeking to rollback the Iranian nuclear accord. A second element of the U.S. foreign policy elite, however, sees the Iranian nuclear accord as vital for the U.S. to begin the partial withdrawal from the Middle East needed in order to complete the so-called pivot to Asia. It is this latter group that has gained the upper hand in the Obama administration. Which of these two competing factions will prevail going forward will likely depend in large measure on the outcome of the 2016 election.
Obama’s presidency was characterized by the return of a kind of cold war with Russia, including on issues of Ukraine and Syria. Do you think that the American administration has interest to be in permanent conflict with Russia?
Under a rational administration, which set upon furthering the interests of the American people, there would certainly be no interest in stoking a permanent conflict with a nuclear power like Russia. But no American administration is rational in that sense. Instead, we have administrations beholden to powerful corporate interests, first among equals being the arms industry. And for the military-industrial complex, a perpetual state of cold war against imperial rivals like Russia and China is a rational course to pursue in the quest for continued profitability.
As American intellectual and political observer, what is your opinion on the assessment of the Obama presidency?
In terms of foreign policy, the Obama presidency has largely been a third and fourth term of the George W. Bush administration. Rhetoric aside, the U.S. has been just as aggressive in using military force abroad under Obama as it was under Bush. Consider that Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan, toppled Qaddafi in Libya, reintroduced U.S. troops to Iraq, waged war on Syria, and set loose a swarm of killer drones. That’s quite the rap sheet. In a truly just world, Obama, like Bush before him, would be spending his post-presidency days in a jail cell in The Hague.
Are alternative media trying to fill a key role to counter the mass media not credible which obey to different interest groups? Are they become indispensable?
The alternative media is, and has long been, a vital source of censored information and alternative perspectives. It has always been indispensable, in other words. And it will no doubt continue to be so going forward.
Interview realized by Mohsen Abdelmoumen
Who is Ben Schreiner?
Ben Schreiner is an American writer who had a degree in politics from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. He writes on U.S. politics and foreign policy. He is the author of « A People’s Dictionary to the ‘Exceptional Nation ». His work has appeared in al-Akhbar English (Lebanon), Asia Times Online (Thailand),Common Dreams, CounterPunch,Dissident Voice, Global Research, MRzine,NYTimes Examiner, The Phoenix (Ireland), Press TV (Iran), Socialist Viewpoint,War Crimes Times, Z Magazine, and others. His media appearances include RTand Press TV.
Published in American Herald Tribune, February 6, 2016: http://ahtribune.com/opinion/472-ben-schreiner.html
In Oximity, February 7, 2016: https://www.oximity.com/article/Ben-Schreiner-You-simply-can-t-have-de-1