There are always little secrets in the practice of foreign policy. These secrets are mostly part of the great powers' uncompromising policies and are not always or necessarily part of the concepts that politicians apply in their conventional policy-making. In the same vein, I suggest the new concept of "alternativization," mostly practiced by the great powers.
Alternativization, I might define as a strategy through which the most powerful countries try to cow the developing world and even other developed nations through forcibly dictating their policies. The reason to put forward this concept is to look at the great powers' policies in new light and perhaps to help better understand the policies and strategies of the great powers. The aim is to explore both the reasons behind the implementation of alternativization and at least two responses to it based on recent examples.The reasons are also hidden in the responses. The first response, the subjugation of others, opposes diversity and seeks to privilege ones special view while ignoring others. The second response is no good reason – like a dictator's view – for coexistence, since coexistence attributes a positive value to diversity and pluralism while certain great powers – the U.S. – have never been advocates of coexistence.
This strategy is capable of inflicting divide in the existing unity, coordination and order in world politics and international relations. It is also mutually implemented by the great powers. Countries such as Russia and Great Britain applied this strategy, for instance, during the Iran Constitutional Revolution (1905-1911). The U.S. government's unilateral withdrawal of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the Iran nuclear deal, on May 8, 2018, is a good example of how alternativization can be applied both against developed and developing countries. U.S. President Donald Trump's historical negotiation with Kim Jong Un of North Korea and his G-7 U-turn in refraining from signing the G-7 statement are also some other examples.
As an example, North Korea's green light for negotiations should not be seen as a U-turn or an alternative policy since North Korea has always been ready to negotiate on the condition that the U.S. won't interfere in its policies.
Second, now that they have negotiated, there are many influencing factors, like the strategic interests of Russia and China in the Korean Peninsula where the U.S. and North Korea have experienced more than 60 years of tension. Russia and China hoped that the U.S. would decrease or end its military presence in the Korean Peninsula as part of this negotiation.
Third, considering the nature and unsustainability of the previous deals and treaties between the U.S. and North Korea, and also the nature of the current draft deal on macro issues, North Korea has won at least five concessions; so, how is it that the U.S. accepted all the conditions that the North Korean leader proposed? The answer to this question lies on Trump's need of an alternative move, for both domestic and foreign policies.
Many analysts believed that the differences between U.S. foreign policy during the terms of Barack Obama versus Donald Trump are huge and sharp; however, an important reality has been ignored in most analyses in the sense that, based on the alternativization strategy, they are different on the surface but similar in depth. The only differences are the methods or tactics they applied and the instruments they used for the practice of their foreign polices, both toward a single country's domestic affairs and foreign policy. Thus, alternativization for them means preparation or providing the grounds for exertion of a new round of pressure and threats.
How does this strategy work?
Through alternativization, a sweeping change occurs in the attitude aimed at dismantling the structures of the target community, state or organization. Not satisfied with mainstream or conventional policies and strategies, a political leader – like in every U.S. government – may look for alternative ones. Some major factors are needed for an effective alternativization strategy; among them are instruments such as public diplomacy and sanction policies along with sabotaging or obstructing internationally accepted norms for military, strategic and political advantages. There are also obstacles for this strategy, such as critiques in domestic or international arenas. The main purpose behind this strategy is the creation of new alliances, enmities or rivalries by which the most powerful actor, usually the U.S., brutally benefits in multi-dimensional ways.
Thus, the outcome of the "alternativization strategy," or "alternativism," is twofold: Crippling competition or rivalries in world politics, followed by an understanding of the necessity of subjugation of others. These outcomes have been inseparable characteristics of U.S. foreign policy. In this strategy, the target community or state may not always be the loser; although the world has witnessed to a great extent the damage to global peace and stability resulting from this strategy. Similarly, there is the possibility that the initiator, the U.S., would inflict serious damage in the long run.Last but not the least, the target community or state can also be a reason or helper in the sense that it can unwantedly give support to the great power, like the U.S., in implementing this strategy, such as the example of many states in the Middle East; some of them have resisted but some have already lost. Turkey and Iran are the best examples of the former.
Through the alternativization strategy, every U.S. government supported tension and initiated war around the world, particularly in the Middle East, under the cover of supporting human rights and the welfare of the people in the region. So, why haven't most governments and regimes in the Middle East not yet been able to fulfill equality, justice, human rights and the welfare of their citizens while they claim to be following the path and teachings of the holy Quran and Islam? It is true that the U.S. and other great powers are deprecating the region through whatever means necessary, but where do we stand? We are unwillingly or unconsciously providing grounds for them to take advantage of us. However, there is still a chance to deflect U.S. policies aimed at the region.
* Iranian researcher, Middle East political and security analyst