A rare defeat at the UN

UNSC rejected a US resolution calling for an extension of arms embargo on Iran

Rustam Shah Mohmand August 23, 2020
The writer is a former chief secretary K-P and former ambassador

In a sign of changing times, the United States suffered a humiliating defeat at the UN Security Council. The UNSC rejected a US resolution calling for an extension of arms embargo on Iran. The only other nation that voted for the resolution was the Dominican Republic. The European allies of the US — the UK and France — abstained while China and Russia opposed.

Was there any rationale for the extension of an unwarranted embargo? Why is the US so obsessed with Iran acquiring weapons when other regional countries are piling up their arms arsenals at a huge cost to their populations? When there was a time to restrict Iran’s nuclear ambitions, an agreement was signed with Tehran. Why did Trump walk out of that agreement in a U-turn that has become a hallmark of US policy under his leadership?

The resolution failing miserably reflects a faltering foreign policy. It shows the lack of foresight and murky understanding of global political trends. More importantly, the rejection signifies the growing flexibility in the policy of major European allies of the US with regard to their near subservience to American global interests.

It appears the post-WWII security architecture where Western Europe would show unqualified support to US interventions is undergoing substantive, though gradual, changes. How this complete subordination to overriding US interests played havoc with global peace will be a matter for historians to assess. But clearly such blind subjugation to Washington’s ‘commands’ have cost the world dearly.

The post-war US has supported dictators, rather than promoting democracy and pluralism, as long as such autocratic rulers operated within a framework compatible with America’s global interests. In 1953, the US, with the help of the UK, toppled the first democratically elected government of Dr Mosadegh. Installing Shah Reza Pehlavi as the absolute ruler was then considered a major victory for the CIA. Little did anyone know it would be the harbinger to tumultuous events in years to come and the US would bite the dust. But such interventions by the ‘superpower’ continued unabated. In 1973, the government of Salvador Allende of Chile was removed by another CIA-supervised operation. Allende was democratically elected but removed because Washington feared he would forge close ties with Cuba and socialist leanings would spread. That was the first 9/11. In 2003, Saddam Hussein, a dictator who was not coming on board, saw his country invaded on the unfounded claim that it possessed weapons of mass destruction. In 2001, Afghanistan was invaded. Till now, the world doesn’t know why the US pursued a senseless war that has no victors and many losers. In 2013, another democratically elected leader, Egypt’s Mohammad Morsi was removed in a CIA-supported military coup reaffirming that the US would not tolerate democratic governance if they did not endorse Washington’s policies.

In all these mad ventures for control, hegemony and assertion of might, the US was fully supported by its European allies as well as Japan, South Korea, Australia, etc.

But now there are growing difficulties as the US pursues its relentless expansionist agenda. Poor leadership is one big difference now. The growing chasm between the whites and coloured segments of US population is spreading disaffection and despair. Trump’s tactics to divide America are bearing fruit. The lack of leadership in Washington has forced US allies to formulate their own visions of security without a US umbrella. America’s weakening economy, growing unemployment and its inability to cope with corona have had serious implications for its global role.

Major European partners of the US and the NATO member states are no longer in awe of US military power. The world is becoming multipolar. Regional alliances are becoming more relevant. China’s emergence and growing economic clout is forcing countries to acknowledge the emerging reality and align with agendas that are not premised on military means for achieving political goals.

The rejection of US global vision would take time to complete. For a new vision to emerge and take root, would take time. But the writing on the wall is clear. It’s the beginning of the end of the American empire.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2020.

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