DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE
THIS WEEK brought some seismic shifts in US foreign policy circles with the resignation of ambassador to the UN Nikki Hayley and national security adviser John Bolton ratcheting up the rhetoric on Iran.
Her departure from the US foreign policy apparatus will lead to Bolton, the quintessential neocon, tightening his grip on the US’s foreign policy trajectory.
When it comes to US policy on Iran, Hayley was a hawk, but Bolton takes hawkishness to a new level. He supports the Iranian exiled opposition group, the Mujahadeen Khalq (MEK), and advocates for it to overthrow the Iranian government. Given that the MEK enjoys little support in Iran and has at times been considered a cult that uses violence to achieve its goals, Bolton’s support for them is irrational at best.
The US State Department listed the MEK as a terrorist organisation in 1997, and in the 1970s the group targeted US companies and killed Americans. It seems clear which way the Trump administration is going to go on Iran, and economic sanctions are just an appetiser. Bolton’s position is backed by other Trump hardliners such as Elaine Chao and Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
It is back to the future, with the US greasing the wheels to accuse Iran of secret atomic capability, just as the US had done to Iraq in 2003, which led to the US invasion of Iraq. I was at a Persian Gulf conference in Tehran in 2003 when a US doctoral student had presented a paper alleging that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. His case was flimsy and he carried little credibility. Yet it was his “evidence” General Colin Powell took to the UN Security Council as part of his justification for attacking Iraq. Fast forward
15 years and Iran is going to be at the receiving end of the conspiracy theories, with the US justifying overt plans for a regime change.
All it took was for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to claim he has intelligence about a secret atomic warehouse in Tehran containing 300 tons of nuclearrelated equipment, for Bolton to latch onto that as a prelude to war. Bolton has been making a noise about the fact that Israel has an impressive stack of intelligence about Iranian nuclear activity and that those need to be investigated by the The International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA says Iran has been in technical compliance with the Iran Nuclear Deal.
But for the US to carry out its aggression against Iran it will need to get the Europeans, or at least some of them, on board. But the Europeans are not going to roll over and parrot the US line that Iran is not complying with the 2015 nuclear agreement. France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia have agreed to establish a financial facility in the EU to facilitate payments for Iranian imports, including oil. The US cannot handle such insubordination and has been bullying European companies to discontinue their trade and business with Iran. The US has threatened sanctions against them, which violates international law.
The whole US charade about rogue regimes gets tiresome. One day North Korea is a rogue regime that must be obliterated, and months later Kim Jong-un is a great guy. Perhaps, in a few months, Trump will be courting a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani?
No one takes the Americans seriously anymore, which explains why the Europeans are ignoring the US’s tantrums. Perhaps this is the decline of American influence and the beginning of a third way.