After Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, his desire to pursue the America First strategy by not only reshaping the internal political landscape but also changing the existing world order in line with US interests became readily apparent.
The US leader began to show that his view of what US national interests were differed completely from that of his predecessors. He decisively severed ties with numerous intergovernmental organizations, established with the aid of the United States, and rejected the very principles of multilateralism. Instead of employing a multilateral approach and championing democratic values, the White House chose to use the upper hand it had gained after the collapse of the USSR to its advantage and to ignore UN demands whenever they did not align with US national interests, thus showing a tendency to behave in an openly authoritarian manner on the domestic as well as international fronts. Donald Trump’s approach to running the government started to resemble that prevalent in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, when proponent of liberal internationalism Woodrow Wilson was no longer President (starting in 1921) and Washington began to pursue isolationist policies that took into account only US interests until the start of the Second World War.
Earlier, before Donald Trump came to power, the White House had essentially relied on appointing individuals loyal to the US administration to key positions in various international organizations to ensure they pursued policies favorable to Washington by, for instance, attacking opponents of American democracy. Bribery, corrupt practices and Washington’s puppet NGOs were also actively used by the United States as tools to apply pressure on leaders of certain international organizations and to influence these institutions. In fact, recently, a study by the European Center for Law and Justice in Strasbourg revealed that nearly a quarter of the 100 judges who had “served on the bench of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the period 2009-2019” had “strong links to George Soros’ Open Society Foundations or to NGOs like Amnesty International and others” funded by it.
However, not all the individuals, hand-picked by Washington, always followed instructions from the White House diligently. As a result, Donald Trump chose to radically change the approach towards certain international organizations by severing ties with institutions that essentially refused to bow down to US pressure.
Very soon after Donald Trump became US President, the United States withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade agreement among 12 countries in the Asia Pacific region. He also halted negotiations on establishing an analogous economic union between the United States and the EU, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). In October 2017, the Department of State notified UNESCO of the US decision to leave the organization. The same year, the United States announced its withdrawal from the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, adopted earlier by the United Nations General Assembly. On June 19, 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Nikki Haley stated that the USA would withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council. The United States also abandoned a number of international agreements, including the Paris Agreement (a landmark accord on climate change) and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (i.e. the Iran nuclear deal). Recently, Washington announced to the world that it was severing ties with the World Health Organization (WHO). The USA then imposed unilateral sanctions (which resembled an ultimatum) against the International Criminal Court (ICC) staff over their investigation into war crimes committed by the US-led forces in Afghanistan since 2003.
Operating more like a businessman concerned with making money rather than a politician, Donald Trump has introduced into the world of politics an approach to business, which can even be described as utilitarian, that essentially neglects the interests of anyone who goes against it. In fact, as far back as 2017, President of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Richard N. Haass described the 45th President’s foreign policy approach as an “adhocracy” (a decentralized, improvisational administration).
On the domestic front, such a utilitarian and nationalistic strategy has yielded some positive results, as anticipated by Donald Trump. After all, Americans, and not the French or Germans, will go to the polls to vote for the next President of the United States. It is, therefore, not surprising that Donald Trump’s approval ratings remain relatively high even today.
However, outside of the United States, the White House’s America First strategy has become increasingly unpopular. And even ardent US supporters, including numerous foreign politicians as well as high-ranking officials from international organizations, have begun to realize that the purely business-minded approach, used by the 45th President of the United States, may mean that, in the nearest future, Washington could demand payment for its support but there is, in fact, little to pay them with. Still, even the United States finds itself in an unenviable position nowadays, with its national debt reaching record levels of about $26 trillion. Hence, Washington also does not have enough money to pay the world, which is why the White House has been cutting its spending on numerous international organizations and military alliances.
At present, it is no longer a secret that the US decisions to suspend financial contributions to WHO and a number of other UN affiliated organizations as well as to impose unilateral economic sanctions against ICC staff are not only direct proof of US intentions to undermine or even destroy international institutions that defy Washington, but also of its openly authoritarian stance, which could, in the nearest future, be accompanied by a show of force. That is why, in its attempts to rein in the ICC and the European Court of Human Rights, Washington is already demanding a blanket immunity from prosecution by international courts for its soldiers, which means they can only be tried for any war crimes, such as deaths of civilians, in the United States.
However, the international community and relatives of innocents who died ought to oppose such moves, otherwise the world will become an unbearable place to live in.
And global communities should not be alone in their disapproval of United States’ policies of this nature, international judges, who are independent from Washington, ought to join their ranks. After all, the main objective of these judges is to ensure justice prevails and the guilty are punished! Hence, the investigation into numerous war crimes committed by the US armed forces and their allies has to continue until a verdict is reached by the international court.
By Vladimir Odintsov
Source: New Eastern Outlook