'Just in one year, our sanctions are likely to wipe out the last 15 years of Russia's economic gains" and make Russia "an outcast on the international stage." U.S. President Joe Biden made these remarks after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine military conflict in February. It is frightening that the U.S. could succeed in such a plan of economic and political strangulation of a major global economy like Russia, not to mention other countries that are not as powerful.
Fanning the flames to create turmoil, using economic and financial clout to sanction opponents, and forming cliques to create political isolation—the U.S. is using its hegemony to undermine the international order.
In fact, the U.S. Government's approach is quite similar to Voldemort's—they both believe in power, recruit followers, use violence, and repeatedly want to kill competitors in order to maintain supremacy. In the Harry Potter series, arch villain Voldemort's arrogance and unchecked need for absolute power led to his eventual demise.
After the Russia-Ukraine conflict broke out, the U.S. did not even try to persuade either side to negotiate and promote peace, but instead continued to provide military assistance to Ukraine in an attempt to prolong the fighting and to bring down Russia.
On April 13, Biden announced that the U.S. would provide Ukraine with an additional $800 million in military aid to help the latter strengthen its defenses. Within less than two months, Washington's aid to Kiev has surpassed $2.4 billion.
The U.S. has also imposed paralyzing sanctions on Moscow, involving economic, financial, technological and other fields. Kicking some Russian banks out of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), canceling Russia's "most favored nation" trade status, depriving Russian citizens of access to their overseas assets, and restricting the sale of Russian vodka—the U.S. targets are all-inclusive.
Unwilling to act alone, the U.S. is also pulling together European countries, Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and many other allies to deal with Russia, trying to "turn the ruble into paper." With their joint efforts, Russia has become the most sanctioned nation in the world. According to a report by Sputnik News Agency, data from a sanctions tracking platform shows that since 2014, Russia has been subject to 5,532 sanctions, surpassing Iran and Syria.
The widespread sanctions against Russia are just the latest manifestation of the U.S. addiction to the approach. Over the past 20 years, the U.S. has relied on it almost to the point of insanity. The number of sanctioned targets on the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control list had grown from 912 in 2000 to 9,421 in October 2021, a net increase of 933 percent.
Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea are all on the U.S. sanctions list, the reasons given by the U.S. Government for punishing these countries include so-called anti-terrorism, anti-corruption, and protection of human rights, but the real motivations are in fact closely related to their ideological differences and America's geopolitical interests.
John Mueller, a professor of political science at the University of Rochester, has compared the threat of chemical and biological weapons to the massive death and destruction caused by U.S. economic sanctions and found that "more people have been killed because of the sanctions than have been killed by all weapons of mass destruction in history."
In addition to sovereign states, companies from other countries are hunted down by the U.S. whenever they affect the country's interests. It has set one trap after another for competitors in the hi-tech sector like Germany's Siemens, Japan's Toshiba, France's Alstom. The companies were all fined heavily by Washington, and their core businesses were severely affected. Some employees were even arrested by the U.S. Government on trumped up charges. Frederic Pierucci, a former executive of Alstom, detailed in his book The American Trap about how the U.S., under the guise of anti-corruption, managed to dismantle many of Europe's biggest multinationals for more than a decade.
The U.S. has always stressed the need to maintain the so-called rules-based international order. Nevertheless, it follows international rules only when they suit its interest and abandons them when they don't. A World Trade Organization report shows that the U.S. accounts for two thirds of the organization's violations, making the country the least compliant member.
'Secret cold war'
The so-called rules-based order, a term pushed by the U.S. had gained currency after then U.S. President George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003 without the approval of the UN Security Council, which "exemplified his general disregard for international restraints on American power," according to an article published in The New York Times in June 2021.
On the Korean Peninsula, Viet Nam, Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Syria—the U.S., under the banner of "upholding justice, stopping aggression and humanitarian intervention," has participated in almost all major wars and armed conflicts around the world since World War II (WWII) to maintain its hegemony. That has led to untold humanitarian disasters in the invaded countries and regions, and plunged them into instability and economic recession.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, once referred to the U.S. as "the most warlike nation in the history of the world." In order to impose its political system and values, the U.S. willfully interferes in other countries' internal affairs. It also provokes the so-called "color revolution" regime changes and incites unrest in the involved countries in addition to military invasions.
According to American scholar Lindsey A. O'Rourke's book Covert Regime Change: America's Secret Cold War, the U.S. engaged in 64 covert attempts at regime change during the Cold War. After the September 11 terrorist attacks on America in 2001, the U.S. started to use counter-terrorism as an excuse to force regime change abroad. The "war on terror" has spread to more than 40 percent of the world's countries since 2001, according to a special report by the Smithsonian Magazine. Another study conducted by Brown University showed that the post-September 11 wars have led to over 929,000 deaths and over 38 million refugees and displaced persons.
U.S. economic bullying not only affects the economy of the sanctioned countries, but also causes serious damage to the global economic order and economic security. Western sanctions against Russia have also had a profound impact on the global energy, food and financial markets. According to the Financial Times, sanctions against Russia are the biggest blow to globalization, devouring not only real wealth but also expectations of future global economic growth.
A 'rogue superpower'
As a principal architect and custodian of the international order after WWII, the U.S. is the initiator, founder and participant of many existing international organizations and international treaties. However, if these rules affect U.S. interests, Washington is quick to push them aside.
In January 2017, the U.S. pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. In December 2018, the U.S. announced its withdrawal from the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. And in the following years, the U.S. has quit the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear issue, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Open Skies Treaty and other international agreements.
The U.S. has twice officially withdrawn from the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, in October 2017 and again in January 2019. When the International Criminal Court "encroached" on U.S. interests, Washington was quick to threaten sanctions in September 2020.
"In the early 21st century, if any power sought world domination, coercing others and flouting rules, it was the United States," commented a New York Times opinion piece in October 2020. Noam Chomsky and other prominent U.S. scholars also bluntly said the U.S. has become a "rogue superpower."
This is an edited excerpt of an article published by Global Times
Copyedited by G.P. Wilson
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