Pentagon chief James Mattis recently railed against Russia for allegedly vetoing other countries’ interests. This week, however, Washington showed that when it comes to vetoing and bullying other nations, it is out on its own as a supreme tyrant.
In a speech earlier this month at the US Naval War College, Washington DC, the US Secretary of State held forth on a range of anti-Russia themes, accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to undermine American “moral authority” and weakening its alliance with Europe and other allies.
Typical of American officials, Mattis invoked history to gave his words some kind of gravitas, but his garbled, illiterate version of history only shows up Washington’s own depredations.
“For the first time since World War II, Russia has been the nation that has redrawn international borders by force of arms in Georgia and Ukraine, while pursuing veto authority over their neighbors’ diplomatic, economic and security decisions,” Mattis said.
It’s the latter charge against Russia of “pursuing veto authority” over others that is particularly galling.
Two developments this week captured the astounding hypocrisy of American rulers.
First there were warnings to Turkey that if it goes through with the purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russia, then Ankara would incur stiff sanctions from Washington.
It wasn’t the first time that the US has tried to pull rank on fellow NATO member Turkey over the S-400 contract with Moscow. But this week, the Americans got heavy, with threats of canceling a previous deal to supply Turkey with the US-made F-35 fighter jet.
Washington also said that it could impose economic sanctions on Ankara using a dubious law signed by President Trump last year aimed at “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)”.
Turkey has chafed at the American browbeating, insisting that the purchase of Russian weaponry is a sovereign matter for Ankara to decide without interference.
The second illustration of Washington’s bullying is even more audacious. A State Department official gave notice to all countries around the world to halt the purchase of Iranian oil exports within the next 180 days, by November 4 this year. That is a deadline declared by President Donald Trump after he unilaterally withdrew the US from the international nuclear accord with Iran last month.
All other signatories to that UN-backed treaty – which limits Iran’s nuclear development in exchange for normalized trade – have called on the Trump administration to adhere to the landmark 2015 deal.
Washington has rebuffed entreaties and insists that it will reimpose all US sanctions on Tehran. Not only that, but the Trump administration is warning that any other nation doing business with Iran is also liable to be hit with secondary sanctions under its CAATSA law. As notified this week, that includes buying Iranian crude oil exports.
“The United States warned Tuesday that countries around the world must stop buying Iranian oil before November 4 or face a renewed round of American economic sanctions,” according to the Times of Israel.
Last week, it was reported by Bloomberg that US officials have been upping the pressure on Iran’s lucrative Asian market. Some two-thirds of all Iranian crude goes to China, India, Japan and South Korea. Washington is badgering these countries to slash Iranian oil imports “to zero”.
The drastic attack on Iran’s economic lifeline by the US goes way beyond the earlier sanctions regime that existed before the signing of the nuclear accord in July 2015. Previously, Asian countries were permitted to buy limited supplies of Iranian oil in exchange for US waivers. Now, the Trump administration is going after Iran with a vengeance to shut down its entire economy and demanding that all nations slam the door on doing business with Tehran.
The American secondary sanctions over Iran will also be extended to the European Union and Turkey which account for the remaining third of Iranian oil exports.
With billions of dollars committed to investments in Iran, European states are at risk of severe economic pain if Trump implements his threats of sanctions. Already, major European oil companies, Total and Royal Dutch Shell, have pulled businesses from Iran to avoid American financial penalties.
This week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned Trump’s policy of “economic warfare”. It comes amid renewed street protests in the Iranian capital over soaring consumer prices and the country’s struggling economy. The timing of the Trump administration ratcheting up sanctions pressure on Iran with a global interdiction on oil trade is a blatant reminder of Washington’s criminal regime-change agenda towards Tehran.
Trump’s blundering and bullying towards Iran is recklessly inciting a military war with Iran and inflaming wider conflict in the Middle East. Already, Washington’s warning to nations this week to halt buying Iranian crude has caused global oil prices to spike – an outcome that could harm the fragile international economy and which, ironically, the Trump administration had been pushing OPEC producers to avert.
Washington’s arm-twisting on Turkey over the S-400 deal with Russia, and on the rest of the world, including supposed top allies, over purchasing Iranian oil exports are just two topical examples from this week.
Another major recent arm-twister is seen from Washington’s threats to European states to cancel the Nord Stream 2 natural gas project with Russia. The US is warning European “allies” that they face economic sanctions – again under its dubious CAATSA legislation – if they do not replace Russian gas with much more expensive gas exports from the US.
What the US is doing, brazenly, is using its own laws to impose its writ over other nations regardless of their sovereign rights. Washington is trying to strong-arm its way to gain economic advantage for its exclusive national interests, even if that means crippling others, including supposed allies.
When it comes to “pursuing veto authority” over others, to borrow James Mattis’ lexicon, Washington is a thug-nation par excellence.
American rulers are not content unless the rest of the world behaves like a foot stool to accommodate US corporate interests. What’s even more risible is that Washington projects the image of tyranny on everyone else except itself. “American exceptionalism” indeed!