Trump must re­ject Rus­sia sanc­tions bill

Global Times US Edition - - FORUM - By Clif­ford A Kira­cofe The author is an ed­u­ca­tor and for­mer se­nior pro­fes­sional staff mem­ber of the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on For­eign Re­la­tions. opin­ion@glob­al­times.com.cn

Anti-Rus­sia hys­te­ria in Wash­ing­ton reached the next level with new sanc­tions leg­is­la­tion in Congress. The leg­is­la­tion sharp­ens ten­sions with Rus­sia, upsets co­op­er­a­tion with the Euro­pean Union (EU), and un­der­mines pres­i­den­tial author­ity over for­eign pol­icy.

The highly con­tro­ver­sial sanc­tions leg­is­la­tion is an out­come of the gen­eral hys­te­ria in Wash­ing­ton, DC over not only Rus­sia but also over Iran and North Korea. The un­der­ly­ing rea­son for the anti-Rus­sia sanc­tions is the main­te­nance of the US global hege­mony of fi­nance cap­i­tal­ism in the face of a chang­ing in­ter­na­tional sit­u­a­tion. As the world moves to­ward a mul­ti­po­lar and poly­cen­tric in­ter­na­tional sys­tem, the hege­monic po­si­tion of the US re­cedes. So Wash­ing­ton seeks to de­fend its hege­mony through eco­nomic means and through the mil­i­tary power of NATO.

But the evolv­ing mul­ti­po­lar world in­cludes coun­tries with eco­nomic mod­els re­flect­ing na­tional cir­cum­stances and char­ac­ter­is­tics. Glob­al­iza­tion as a trend does not mean that coun­tries au­to­mat­i­cally must re­ject their own de­vel­op­ment mod­els and suc­cumb to the hege­mony of US fi­nance cap­i­tal­ism.

Rus­sia un­der Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and his team is fo­cused on na­tional re­ju­ve­na­tion. This pa­tri­otic re­sponse to the chal­lenges posed in the post-Soviet era is com­mend­able. But it has trig­gered a re­sponse from Western im­pe­ri­al­ism, which has sought to iso­late and con­tain the new Rus­sia. The West has sought Rus­sian ca­pit­u­la­tion to its glob­al­ist geostrate­gic de­signs.

That the US Congress and cer­tain elite po­lit­i­cal and fi­nan­cial forces are vir­u­lently anti-Rus­sia is no se­cret to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. It is on weekly, if not daily, dis­play in Wash­ing­ton. Car­toon­ish Amer­i­can politi­cians hy­per­ven­ti­late on cue from the an­tiRus­sia lobby. The anti-Rus­sia mainstream US me­dia is only too happy to spread the hys­te­ria on front pages and on prime time tele­vi­sion.

The sanc­tions leg­is­la­tion goes be­yond ear­lier leg­is­la­tion which is in force to­day. The new leg­is­la­tion de­vel­oped from leg­is­la­tion aimed against Rus­sia and Iran but now in­cludes North Korea. It is the an­tiRus­sia pro­vi­sions, how­ever, that have clearly shocked the EU.

Sanc­tions are a form of eco­nomic war­fare. So far, the US sanc­tions against Rus­sia were agreed to by the EU which has its own set of sanc­tions in place. Of course, over­all the com­bined sanc­tions dras­ti­cally and neg­a­tively im­pacted on bil­lions of dol­lars of EU trade with Rus­sia. The US does not have much trade with Rus­sia so it has been rel­a­tively un­harmed.

In re­cent months, EU voices against Rus­sia sanc­tions have been gain­ing trac­tion. The dam­age to EU eco­nomic in­ter­ests has been con­sid­er­able as Rus­sia chose the ob­vi­ous course of strength­en­ing its do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ing and agri­cul­ture to sub­sti­tute for EU goods. Ad­di­tion­ally, Rus­sia log­i­cally ex­panded its sourc­ing of agri­cul­tural goods to third coun­tries such as Turkey and Brazil thereby cut­ting the EU out of the sup­ply chain.

The new Con­gres­sional sanc­tions leg­is­la­tion, how­ever, hits the EU very hard and clearly is tar­geted at da­m­ag­ing ma­jor EU in­dus­trial sec­tors such as the oil and gas sec­tor. So a sig­nif­i­cant split has now de­vel­oped which has wo­ken the EU lead­er­ship to the re­al­ity of reck­less and un­re­strained US hege­monism.

Delu­sional politi­cians in Wash­ing­ton have a child­like ob­ses­sion with eco­nomic sanc­tions and mil­i­tary force as a way to play the school­yard bully. The era of US diplo­matic lead­er­ship is long over given the dis­in­te­gra­tion of Wash­ing­ton’s diplo­matic ca­pa­bil­ity. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion may be able to re­build Amer­i­can diplo­macy to con­struc­tive ends but this re­mains to be seen.

Given the ma­jor threat to EU eco­nomic in­ter­ests posed by the new sanc­tions, it is no won­der that EU lead­ers are un­der­tak­ing urgent con­sul­ta­tions and are devel­op­ing a firm re­sponse if needed.

The sim­plest re­sponse is for the EU not to rec­og­nize the US sanc­tions and to con­tinue with their own com­mer­cial re­la­tions with Rus­sia. If needed, the EU can be­gin to im­pose re­stric­tions on US fi­nan­cial, in­dus­trial, and agri­cul­tural in­ter­ests. Of course, the EU should drop all of its anti-Rus­sia sanc­tions in any event.

The White House must end its dis­ar­ray and dys­func­tion and deal firmly with Congress. The pres­i­dent must de­liver on his cam­paign prom­ise to im­prove re­la­tions with Rus­sia and must re­ject coun­ter­pro­duc­tive and desta­bi­liz­ing sanc­tions.

Il­lus­tra­tion: Liu Rui/GT

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