Washington: The Bleeder of the ‘Free
By Finian Cunningham
the many self-flattering epithets it gives itself,
the US has always claimed to be the “leader of the
free world”. It’s a rather patronizing notion that
America views itself as a selfless protector and
benefactor of its European allies and others. This
fairytale depiction of the world is coming to a rude
awakening as American power buffets against the
reality of a multi-polar world.
Less a world leader and more like a
blood-sucking leech on international relations.
We got a clear view of the
contradiction in America’s narcissistic mythology
with US President Donald Trump’s announcement that
he was disavowing the multinational nuclear accord
with Iran last Friday.
Trump didn’t axe American
participation in the deal just yet, but he has put
it on notice that he or the US Congress may
terminate the accord over the next two months. How’s
that for high-handed arrogance?
However, there was near-unanimous
push back around the world to Trump’s disparagement
of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),
which was originally signed in July 2015 by the US,
Russia, China, European Union and Iran. All the
signatories uniformly rebuked Trump’s attempt to
undermine the deal, which is supposed to lift
international economic sanctions off Iran in return
for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.
While Trump accused Iran of “multiple
violations” of the accord, all the other
stakeholders asserted satisfaction that Iran has in
fact fully implemented its obligations to restrict
uranium enrichment and weaponization of its nuclear
program. The UN watchdog, the International Atomic
Energy Agency, also responded to Trump’s claims by
reaffirming that eight consecutive monitoring
reports have found Iran to be fully compliant with
Britain, France and Germany, as well
as Russia and China, have firmly said that the
nuclear deal – which took two years to negotiate
during Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House – is
not for renegotiation. A point which was reiterated
too by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
is also written into international law, having been
ratified unanimously by the UN Security Council back
in 2015. In a stinging admonishment to Washington,
the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Morgherini said:
“This deal is not a bilateral agreement ... The
international community, and the European Union with
it, has clearly indicated that the deal is, and
will, continue to be in place.”
Russia also denounced Trump’s
over-the-top aggressive rhetoric towards Iran. The
American president was almost foaming at the mouth
when he labelled Iran “the world’s top terror
sponsor” and accused Tehran of fueling conflict
across the Middle East. Moscow said such rhetoric
was unacceptable and inappropriate. Iran dismissed
Trump’s accusations as baseless lies.
Evidently, Russia, China and the Europeans do not
share America’s debased caricature of Iran. And who
in their right mind would? The hackneyed American
allegations against Iran are – as usual – not backed
up with any evidence. They rely on bombastic
assertion repeated ad nauseam. It is especially
ironic and odious for Washington to accuse others of
sponsoring terrorism, given the litany of illegal
wars it has launched across the Middle East and the
steadily emerging evidence of
US links to terror groups in Syria’s six-year war.
Thus, the commitment by all the
signatories – except Washington – to the Iranian
nuclear deal is a stunning rejection of Trump’s
aggressive stance towards Iran.
Trump’s anticipated disavowal of the JCPOA on
Friday, Germany’s foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel warned that
such a move would “drive a wedge between Europe and
the US”. Significantly, Gabriel said that Trump’s
spurning of the accord was “driving the EU towards
Russia and China”.
France’s finance minister Bruno Le
Maire also warned the US not to interfere in
Europe’s growing commercial ties with Iran. He was
quoted as saying: “The US must not appoint itself as
the world’s police man”.
Trump’s hostility towards the Iran
nuclear treaty has created dissent within his own
cabinet. His secretary of state Rex Tillerson and
the defense secretary James Mattis are among those
who were urging Trump to uphold the JCPOA. In the
Congress, there are also many opponents to Trump’s
desire to axe the deal, even among his Republican
party. It remains to be seen if the Congress will
call for new sanctions on Iran over the next 60
days, as Trump has requested. If Congress does, it
will mean the US crashing out of the accord.
In theory, of course, the EU, Russia
and China can continue to uphold the nuclear accord
with Iran and conduct international trade and
investment without the Americans. Russia and China
have signed major oil and gas pacts with Iran over
the past two years.
The European states have also lined
up huge commercial projects and investments with
Tehran in sectors of energy, engineering and
infrastructure. Germany and France in particular
have seen their exports to Iran soar since the
signing of the JCPOA. With Iran’s 80 million
population and vast oil and gas reserves, the
Persian nation represents lucrative opportunities
for Europe, given too the geographical proximity.
But the US is still able to exert
tremendous power over international banking to the
extent that it is having a chilling effect on other
countries doing business with Iran. The European
states are particularly vulnerable to American
it headlined: ‘Trump's Iran Decision Throws
Uncertainty Into Business Plans’.
The report goes on: “Since a landmark
nuclear agreement freed Iran’s economy from
crippling economic sanctions, investors eager to tap
the country’s energy reserves and its 80 million
consumers have waited for signs it was safe to enter
the market in full force… Donald Trump is about to
signal that they should keep waiting.”
The US view of Iran is so warped –
much of it from relentless propaganda demonizing the
Islamic Republic – that it is evidently incapable of
normalizing relations as it is obligated to do under
the multilateral nuclear deal. Trump ironically
accused Iran of “not living up to the spirit of the
accord” when it is the US that has worked
assiduously to undermine it.
Since Trump took office, he has
reportedly cancelled all export licenses to Iran.
His administration and the Congress have slapped
more “secondary sanctions” on Iran over allegations
that it is destabilizing the Middle East and for its
support to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.
These bilateral US sanctions
inevitably have a deterrent effect on other nations
doing business with Iran out of fear that they may
be penalized in the future. Long-term investments
over several years are prone to prohibitive risks
due to the uncertainty about what Washington’s
capricious policy towards Iran will be.
America’s unilateral, hegemonic
conduct – accentuated under Trump – is rapidly
alienating other nations. This president seems to
operate a “withdrawal doctrine”, as Richard Haass,
president of the DC-based Council on Foreign
Relations, commented. Trump’s contempt for
multilateral obligations peaked with his
announcement back in June on backing out of the
Paris Climate Accord. It has peaked again with his
repudiation of the UN-backed Iran nuclear deal.
What is becoming increasingly
apparent is that US unilateralism is all about
pandering to its own selfish interests. Trump’s
administration has hit Russia with more sanctions
and has warned that European energy companies
involved in developing the Nord Stream 2 gas project
with Russia’s Gazprom will also be sanctioned. The
flagrant agenda here is for the US to replace Russia
as Europe’s gas supplier, selling its own more
expensive fuel to Europe.
Likewise US hostility and sanctions
on Iran are not just limited to its own perverse
policies. Washington also wants to block others from
also doing legitimate business and trade with Iran.
For the Europeans struggling to boost their flagging
economies, the impediments being thrown in their way
by the US over Iran are another source of resentment
towards American unilateralism.
This is not the idealized conduct of
the self-proclaimed “leader of the free world”.
America is increasingly seen as the “bleeder” – a
declining power which wants to suck the economic
lifeblood from others in order to sustain itself.
This untenable American unipolar craving is
inevitably hastening the reality of a multipolar
world, as Europeans in particular realize that they
can no longer afford to prop up America’s economic
Update - I had
incorrectly post a bio for Andre Vltchek as
author of this article. I apologize to Finian and
Andre for my error. Peace and Joy - Tom
Cunningham has written extensively on international
affairs, with articles published in several
languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural
Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the
Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England,
before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He
is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20
years, he worked as an editor and writer in major
news media organisations, including The Mirror,
Irish Times and Independent.
article was originally published by
Strategic Culture Foundation