What is humanity facing in US foreign policy?

Now Trump is using the world stage to place AMERICA FIRST at any cost to assure his re-election.

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Over the past three months, three significant events have occurred:


First was the US-backed military coup in Bolivia in October. Said President Trump: “The United States applauds the Bolivian people for demanding freedom and the Bolivian military for abiding by its oath to protect not just a single person, but Bolivia’s constitution.  These events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail.  We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.” (White House website: Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding the Resignation of Bolivian President Evo Morales issued on: November 11, 2019)


This measure ignored what, in international law, is the principle of non-intervention, which includes, but is not limited to, “the prohibition of the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state (Article 2.4 of the Charter). The principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of States also signifies that a State should not otherwise intervene in a dictatorial way in the internal affairs of other States.”(Encyclopaedia Princetoniensis)


Second came the non -ratification of judges at the WTO court of appeals on December 10, 2019. In May, departing appellate body member Peter Van den Bossche said: “With its combination of compulsory jurisdiction, independent and impartial adjudicators, appellate review, and binding rulings, the WTO dispute settlement system is indeed unique among international mechanisms for the resolution of disputes between sovereign states. Not surprisingly, it quickly became the most used state-to-state dispute resolution mechanism, and was acclaimed the jewel in the crown of the WTO.” (Farewell speech of Appellate Body member Peter Van den Bossche on 28 May, 2019) The problem, according to Time Magazine, was that disputes left in limbo are seven cases that have been brought against Trump’s decision last year to declare foreign steel and aluminum a threat to U.S. national security and to hit them with import taxes. The quick solution was to shut this down and have the multilateral trade system grind to a halt and the need to use US and other national courts, instead. (“World Trade Without Rules? U.S. Shuts Down WTO Appeals Court”, Dec. 10, 2019 at https://time.com/5746978/wto-appeals-court/ viewed on 5.1.2020)


Third comes an attack on an Iranian general on Iraqi territory, bringing two conflicts up: one with each country. President Trump said “Soleimani has been perpetrating acts of terror to destabilize the Middle East for the last 20 years.  What the United States did yesterday should have been done long ago.  A lot of lives would have been saved. Just recently, Soleimani led the brutal repression of protestors in Iran, where more than a thousand innocent civilians were tortured and killed by their own government.” (Remarks by President Trump on the Killing of Qasem Soleimani, Issued on: January 3, 2020)


This is a record of one substantial international event per month in the start of a US election year and with an impeachment of the President in process. Much like he used US foreign policy in Ukraine to help himself in his electoral process by stopping the sales of military equipment to that country until she collaborated with information against his presidential competitor, now he is using the world stage to place AMERICA FIRST at any cost to assure his re-election.


This gives an idea that perhaps over the next eleven months there will be more to come in uncomfortable places. Venezuela? Cuba? Nicaragua? Afghanistan? Pakistan? Yemen? Kenya? Ukraine? The UN? The Security Council?


Never had the world been the front stage for subordinated domestic politics, not even when the Germans invaded Poland. The war to prevent war to ensure votes in an election at home, as Atilio Boron said in Pagina12 from Buenos Aires, a year ahead, is something new. Violating international law, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and past American signed treaties on multilateralism (Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization) is the new normal for a world that in the delusional view of Trump and his team will remain static. Having other countries follow and support those illegal measures restores the notion of what were once called “the lackeys of imperialism”. The international principle of non-intervention has been deleted and a new principle of intervention, armed or otherwise, with some subservient country support, is the new rule. The absence of European and Asian countries in vocal response to these measures is evident. Unilateralism will eventually have responses from many sides and even if those abominable actions lead now to the re-election of the US authoritarian ruler, it cannot prevent the loss of prestige of what was formerly the world hegemon. The US is becoming much more dangerous as it loses global power than when it had it in full force in the 1950’s, the years of the ‘Ugly American’. It appears that the US has returned to the security and development doctrine of the 1950’s, this time with China in mind. (National Security Strategy of the United States of America, December, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf)


- Oscar Ugarteche, Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas UNAM.


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