Finian Cunningham Interview

An Objective Look at U.S. Foreign Policy

Events continue to unfold at a quickening pace. Facing an alarming escalation in tensions around the world, we asked Finian Cunningham for his current thoughts.

Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Second-time recipient of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromising Integrity in Journalism (December 2020). His prolific output of excellent political analysis and commentary can be accessed at Strategic Culture Foundation, Sputnik News, and RT.

We focus on the realities of the international power struggle unfolding in real time, specifically addressing the role of the U.S. in the tensions and its capacity to reduce them. We are looking for paradigm-shift ideas for improving the prospects for peace. His responses below of are exactly as he provided.

Here is what Finian had to say.

John Rachel: We hear a lot of terms and acronyms bandied about. ‘Deep State’ … ‘MIC’ … ‘FIRE sector’ … ‘ruling elite’ … ‘oligarchy’ … ‘neocons’.  Who actually defines and sets America’s geopolitical priorities and determines our foreign policy? Not “officially”.  Not constitutionally. But de facto.

Finian Cunningham:  All of the above terms can be used interchangeably to convey different facets of the power structure in the United States, and other nations. The ruling class comprises primarily corporate and financial interests of Wall Street and the military-industrial complex as well as combines of accumulated wealth. This nexus of power is nothing mysterious. It is the apex of the political and economic power of a social minority – the 1% is another term – that is the norm for capitalist society, as is explained in conventional class analysis. Writers like Michael Parenti and the late William Blum, among others, have described it well. The term “deep state” is a useful one because it conveys the continuity of power and powerful interests that remain entrenched regardless of which political party or personage is in the presidential or congressional office.

The politicians do the bidding of the ruling class to serve their economic and political interests. This condition of permanent entrenched power accounts for why policies change little from one administration to another, whether Democrat or Republican. That’s why foreign policies change little, if at all. The unspoken foreign policy of the US is to serve the imperialist interests of its ruling class (Wall Street banks, commodity multinationals, overseas investors) and to maximize militarism for the financial benefit of the big and ancillary corporations that comprise the military-industrial complex.

For example, if we look back over the last decade from the Obama administration, through Trump to the present Biden one, there is fundamentally no difference in foreign policy. Even though we went from Democrat to Republican back to Democrat and despite differences in presidential personalities. Obama launched the “Pivot to Asia” with its keynote policy of antagonizing China. Obama also unleashed the policy of confrontation with Russia. Of course, Obama didn’t originate these policies. The antagonism towards perceived geopolitical rivals goes back decades to the Cold War. But certainly under Obama, there seemed to have been a step-change in pursuing more conflict with China and Russia.

From Obama through Trump to Biden, the foreign policy of aggression has not only continued but has also been intensified. This is an illustration of the “deep state” at work. The objective of the ruling class’s interests is to confront China and Russia in order to project US imperial power or hegemonic ambitions of global dominance for the capitalist advantages of its de facto governing corporate structure. The political party labels are irrelevant. The ship of state is charted for a collision course with perceived global rivals. Those rivals are, of course, portrayed as “enemies” and “threats”. That narrative or propaganda is required to “justify” (legitimize) the policy of antagonism and militarism, which is essentially a criminal warmongering policy.

This, in my view, explains why the United States aided and abetted by subordinate “allies” are drumming up war with China over Taiwan and with Russia over Ukraine. The collision course is set by the ruling class in accordance with their interests, not by the majority of American citizens. This speaks of the fundamentally undemocratic nature of the US and its allies. More accurately, the US and its Western vassal states are acting like fascist powers because the policies are fixed by corporate power and reinforced with immense militarism. There is no democratic accounting for the war fixation. Citizens are held hostage by the warmongering deep state.

JR: We’ve had decades of international tensions. Recent developments have seen a sharp escalation in the potential for a major war. The U.S. apparently cannot be at peace. “Threats” against the homeland are allegedly increasing in number and severity. The trajectory of our relations with the rest of the world appears to be more confrontations, more enemies, more crises, and more wars.

Is the world really that full of aggressors, bad actors, ruthless opponents? Or is there something in our own policies and attitudes toward other countries which put us at odds with them, thus making war inevitable and peace impossible?

FC: The United States in its capitalist formation as described above needs conflict and ultimately war like a drug addict needs a narcotic fix. The US cannot function without militarism because of the nature of its corporate capitalist economy and in particular the dominance of the military-industrial complex. The US economy is a hyper-militarized one befitting a fascist state. In order to justify this totally abnormal and undemocratic functioning, which is also criminal by the way, then there is the imperative need for a propaganda cover of legitimizing narrative about “enemies and threats”. This illusory narrative is dutifully sustained by the corporate-controlled media which reinforces, and never questions, nostrums about “foreign enemies” and “foreign threats”.

China, for example, is continually portrayed as a national security threat, an expansionist power and a threat to Taiwan in particular. The US claims to “defend” Taiwan from a Chinese threat. Under international law and US own domestic law, China has sovereignty over Taiwan in what is known as the One China Policy. Since Obama, through Trump and Biden, the US has increased sales of strategic weapons to Taiwan. This so-called US policy of “strategic ambiguity” is really more accurately called the “strategic destabilization” of China with the aim to antagonize Beijing. Beijing has repeatedly said it aspires to peaceful reunification with the island of Taiwan, but Washington relentlessly militarizes the situation by massively arming Taiwan, inciting separatist politics and inciting Beijing to react with military measures, which arguably are a legitimate response to defend its sovereignty. Can you imagine if the shoe was on the other foot?

This week, the United States’s government-funded organization the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is organizing a “world democracy summit” in Taiwan (October 25-27). (See this article.)

The summit called for a challenge to “authoritarian regimes”. In other words, a CIA front organization (NED) is fomenting sedition and secession on Chinese sovereign territory. And yet in the US media, this week all we heard about were unsubstantiated warnings that Chinese President Xi Jinping is going to take China in a more aggressive direction over the next five years of his third term in office.

Meanwhile the Chinese foreign ministry this week urged the United States to stop demonizing China as a global threat and for Washington to work together in a mutual partnership for world development and peace. So it is clear who the aggressor is here.

In relation to Russia, in the months before the war in Ukraine blew up in February this year, Moscow had set out a detailed proposal for a comprehensive security treaty in Europe. The proposed treaty called on the US-led NATO military bloc to stop expanding eastwards towards Russia’s borders, as it has done relentlessly since the supposed end of the Cold War in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moscow’s security treaty proposals were simply trashed by the United States. No negotiations were conceivable for Washington. It insisted on NATO expansion and the “right” to continue arming a radical anti-Russian regime in Ukraine which Washington has bankrolled with weapons and military trainers since the CIA-backed coup in Kiev in 2014. That US deep state policy of antagonism, militarism, and aggression (regardless of who is in the White House) has led to the current war in Ukraine with Russia which the US and its NATO allies are doing everything to escalate, even if it runs the risk of a nuclear cataclysm.

As with Taiwan and China, the United States is on a fixed course of confrontation with Russia using Ukraine as the conduit. It is blatantly obvious who the aggressor is. And it should be blatantly obvious that the motive for this aggression is the paramount need to keep the US capitalist economy and its fascist power structure functioning through hyper-militarism.

JR:  Our leaders relentlessly talk about our “national interests” and our “national security”, warning that both are under constant assault. Yet, we spend more than the next nine countries combined on our military. Why does such colossal spending never seem to be enough?

FC: Because American capitalism is a war-driven economy. The military-industrial complex is so embedded and prevalent that US capitalism would not function without conflict, tensions, and ultimately war. No other nation comes close to the warmongering record of the United States. Five years after World War II, it was bombing millions of Korean civilians to death. William Blum puts the number of wars and conflicts the US has engaged in since World War II at dozens and scores. What for? To “defend democracy and law and order?” How ridiculous and obscene! The entire power structure of the US would collapse without war – or its latent version of tensions and conflict with “foreign enemies”. That power structure equates to deadly serious vested interests. It’s what President Eisenhower warned about in 1961 and two years later his successor John F Kennedy was assassinated because he threatened the militaristic power structure from growing peace talks with the Soviet Union. JFK’s assassination – a president’s head blown off in broad daylight during a motorcade watched by millions of citizens – is perhaps the single most horrific example of the fascist deep state made manifest, which is the brutal, sickening reality beneath the patina of “American democracy”.

JR: It’s evident that you, and the many individuals who follow you and support your work, believe that America’s direction in both the diplomatic sphere and in the current conflict zones represents exercise of government power gone awry. Can you paint for us in broad strokes the specific changes in our national priorities and policies you view as necessary for the U.S. to peacefully coexist with other nations, at the same time keeping us safe from malicious attacks on our security and rightful place in the world community?

FC: The United States needs to be democratized. Its power structure and economy need to be demilitarized and made to work for the benefit of the majority of citizens. In short, I believe a socialist society is the best solution. But the fight for genuine democracy and peace comes with a hard struggle because of the vested interests of the status quo. However, with the evident collapse of US capitalist society (and other Western states), the task is being made more necessary and in some ways easier because it is becoming starkly evident that the existing system is bankrupt, corrupt, criminal, and unsustainable for the majority of working people – who really do want peaceful societies and peaceful international coexistence.

I believe that peaceful international relations with China, Russia and the United States and other nations are very possible. The primary threat to our human existence comes from the United States under its prevailing system. If that system can be transformed into a peaceful, democratic, socialist economy by a mass movement of Americans then the world will be likewise transformed. The key is the demilitarization of the US requiring a social change that goes way beyond its present oligarchic capitalist system. That is the biggest historic challenge the whole world wants to see being achieved. It won’t happen unless American citizens get organized politically. If they don’t, then a world war is in danger of happening. If a war happens, and the planet survives it, then the best we can hope for is the defeat of the US deep state and an opening for democratic transformation by the American citizens. The peaceful option is, of course, desired but the US oligarchy is making violence almost inevitable.

The general public, especially when it’s aware of the self-sabotaging results of our current foreign policies and military posturing, clearly wants less war and militarism, preferring more peaceful alternatives on the world stage and greater concentration on solving the problems at home. As peace activists, we are thus more in line with the majority of citizens on issues of war and peace, than those currently in power.

JR: What happens if we determine that those shaping current U.S. policy don’t care what the citizenry thinks, are simply not listening to us? What if we conclude that our Congress, for example, is completely deaf to the voice of the people? What do we do? What are our options then? What are the next concrete steps for political activists working toward a peaceful future?

FC: What about if Americans in greater numbers boycotted elections with the explicit reason being that they don’t recognize the process? I mean total boycott. And for the citizens to be organized and conscious about what their objectives are: they will only engage with politics, voting, and form-filling, when a party is on the ballot sheets that genuinely represents their class needs as workers and aspirations for peaceful foreign relations. Maybe Americans should go on strike and bring the system to a crash. And the same goes for Europeans, by the way.


John Rachel:  We are grateful to Finian Cunningham for sharing his valuable and thought-provoking views. The interview was arranged by John Rachel, Director of the Peace Dividend Project. The Peace Dividend strategy is not a meme or a bumper sticker. It is an end-to-end methodology for challenging the political establishment and removing from power those compromised individuals who work against the interests of the great majority of U.S. citizens. The only hope for our hyper-militarized nation is each and every one of us having a decisive voice in determining the future we want for ourselves and our children. 

John Rachel has a B.A. in Philosophy, has traveled extensively, is a songwriter, music producer, neo-Marxist, and a bipolar humanist. He has written eight novels and three political non-fiction books. His most recent polemic is The Peace Dividend: The Most Controversial Proposal in the History of the World. His political articles have appeared at many alternative media outlets. He is now somewhat rooted in a small traditional farming village in Japan near Osaka, where he proudly tends his small but promising vegetable garden. Scribo ergo sum. Read other articles by John, or visit John's website.