How can the world best gang up on America?22nd May 2019
The US has many fine qualities, but in the field of international relations the US is becoming one of the single worst nations on Earth. Here is just one example:
President Donald Trump’s administration announced Monday that buyers of Iranian oil must stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions.
The move, which took many market participants by surprise, ends six months of waivers which had allowed Iran’s eight biggest buyers of crude to continue to import limited volumes.
It’s bad enough that the US refuses to buy oil from Iran; we insist that every other country in the world follow our lead. And in this case we cannot even cite support from allies such as the UK, France and Germany, all of which oppose this move.
Of course there are numerous other examples I could cite. We punish other countries for being tax havens, while the US is perhaps the world’s biggest tax haven. It’s easy to set up secret shell corporations in the US in order to hide wealth.
We also threaten sanctions against foreign multinational companies that do business with Iran. Because of the size of the US, and the fact that it is difficult to do international business without using US dollars, we are able intimidate foreign companies into avoiding Iran.
Trump frequently praises evil leaders like Orban, Kim Jong-un, MBS, Putin, Duterte, while trashing the more respectable leaders of our allies. We are now a part of the “dark side” of authoritarian nationalism. The axis of evil.
We launch trade wars against one country after another, on the flimsiest of justifications. And one could cite dozens of other examples. Some of this predates Trump, but it’s become far worse over the past two years.
So what is to be done? The purpose of this post is to look for ideas as to how the rest of the world can fight back against American bullying.
Consider that the behavior of Russia and Saudi Arabia is at least as bad as Iran’s behavior, if not worse. So why don’t we ban other countries from buying oil from Russia or Saudi Arabia? The answer is clear; they are too big for us to pick on. We know that a cutoff of oil from either of those two countries would push the global economy into recession. We pick on the weak. This suggests a path forward.
It seems to me that it would be in the interest of the major European nations to join up with China, Japan, Russia, Turkey, India and other major powers in an anti-American alliance. That way the US could not pick them off one country at a time. Yes, the Europeans are not completely happy with the behavior of China, but right now the US is the biggest threat to Europe. (Something Angela Merkel seems to understand.) By joining together in an anti-American alliance, it will make it harder for the US to achieve its goals. We can sanction one country for doing business with Iran, but do we dare sanction the entire world? I doubt it.
Perhaps there could be an international effort to replace the dollar with the euro as the dominant currency in global trade and investment. It would not be easy, but the leverage of US policymakers would be reduced if the US banking system did not occupy such a central role in the global economy. Or perhaps the EU could fine American companies doing business in Europe every time we fined a European firm for doing something that was perfectly legal under European law.
The US is a big country, but it generates only about 20% of global GDP. If the rest of the world worked together they ought to be able to put an end to American bullying. Bullies are usually cowards, and tend to back down when they meet actual resistance.
If you have any good ideas, please add them to the comment section.
PS. The recent US ultimatum given to Iran reminds me of the old days when countries like Germany would deliver a ridiculous set of demands to a weaker country in the hope they would be rejected and offer a pretext for war. (I suspect the actual US goal is regime change, not denuclearization.) My favorite example was the US insistence that Iran not intervene in Yemen. Pot, kettle.
Update: Although this Foreign Affairs piece ends up (sort of) defending Trump, it’s still the best thing I’ve read on the Mueller investigation. Highly recommended.
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