We are continuing to publish on our site the fragments from the book AMERICA’S PLANS FOR WORLD HEGEMONY, by Romanian author Calistrat M. Atudorei which was published in English version very recently by printing house ”ePublishers” in Bucharest.
Chapter 10/1. United States vs the Rest of the World
American Influence on International Institutions
The rhetoric related to the growing power of international institutions is very praised in theory, but for an attentive observer, what continues to prevail in relations between states are the same imperatives of political realism. Analysts Tony Evans and Peter Wilson, among many others, got to the same conclusion. They believe that international institutions nowadays became “arenas for acting out power relationships.”1 We come across similar formulas written by other experts in political theories, such as Joseph Grieco2 or John Mearsheimer.3
In John Mearsheimer’s opinion, there is no international institution in Asia with real power to condition states. At the same time, although there are some impressive institutions in Europe—like NATO and European Union—“there is little evidence that they can compel member states to act against their strategic interests.”4 Mearsheimer underlines that in general “International institutions seem to have almost no independent effect on the great powers’ behavior.” And what is even sadder, he says, “is that the most powerful states in the system create and shape institutions so that they can maintain, if not increase, their own share of world power.”5
Undoubtedly, being the greatest power in the world, the United States represents at the same time the most eloquent example of force exercise in order to round into form and even constrain international institutions. In an article published by Foreign Affairs in September 2003, entitled US hegemony and international organizations, a group of three well-known journalists described the methods—direct and indirect—through which the US political environment instruments international institutions: “America’s decisions to cooperate in multilateral forums will be determined predominantly by the extent to which any specific organization is perceived by US domestic actors to be an effective and congenial vehicle for the promotion of America’s objectives. As for multilateral institutions… they operate within the direct and indirect constraints that US instrumentalism imposes.”6
In Joseph E. Stiglitz’s interpretation—winner of Nobel Prize for economics in 2001—the United States influenced the financial institutions of the world for its own advantage. Stiglitz’s account is based on what he found out when he worked with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. For example, with regard to IMF practices, he notes that “In theory, the fund supports democratic institutions in the nations it assists. In practice, it undermines the democratic process by imposing policies. Officially, of course, the IMF doesn’t ‘impose’ anything. It ‘negotiates’ the conditions for receiving aid. But all the power in the negotiations is on one side, the IMF’s.” Stiglitz continues addressing a rhetorical question: “…did America— and IMF—push policies because we, or they, believed the policies would help (…) or because we believed they would bring financial interests to the United States and the advanced industrial world? And, if we believed our policies were helping (…), where was the evidence? As a participant in these debates, I got to see the evidence. There was none.”7
Taking as an example US relationship with the United Nations, the well-known sociologist and political scientist Francis Fukuyama8 recently made a forecast related to America’s unilateral influence. He stated that UN became “perfectly serviceable as an instrument of American unilateralism and indeed may be the primary mechanism through which that unilateralism will be exercised in the future.”9
John Mearsheimer believes that, as the most powerful state of the world, the United States usually imposes its point of view on issues that it considers important. He took as an example a situation in December 1996, when the United States decided they did not want secretary general Boutros-Boutros Ghali to lead the United Nations in a second term. That is why they forced his removal from power, “despite the fact that all the other members of the Security Council wanted him to stay on the job.” If the great powers fail to impose their point of view, Mearsheimer adds, then the US “ignores the institution and does what it deems to be in its own national interest.”10
In this regard as well, we notice that when it fails to serve American unilateralism in issues related to interests of elites, UN is simply ignored by US representatives. The situation is very well illustrated by the vetoes’ history. As early as the 1960s, the US has been the indisputable leader in the list of the most vetoes of the UN Security Council resolutions on a wide range of themes. Britain and France, the traditional allies of the United States, come immediately after the US. I provided a number of examples in this regard when I referred to issues related to ballistic missiles and chemical weapons.
Yet, the worst thing is that the United Nations, though it is the largest and strongest peace-keeping organization in the world, it failed to prevent the US from triggering a whole series of major conflicts after the end of the Cold War. I refer to the wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq or Syria, where the United States acted without the approval of the UN Security Council.
A 2002 statement of the Chairman in the Department of Defense at that time, Colin Powell, expresses very suggestively the White House’s position on the United Nations’ resolutions. In the context in which at the UN the United States’ intention to militarily invade Iraq was debated, Powell claimed: “Obviously, the Council can always go off and have other discussions…” but we “will have the authority to do what we believe is necessary.”11 Andrew Card, chief of staff at the White House, made an almost identical account, stating on behalf of the administration that “UN members can meet and discuss, but we don’t need their permission.”12
This kind of situations, when US disregards other states’ positions, or even UN authority, shows, in many analysts’ opinion, that US foreign policy records serious deviation from the principles of international relations’ democratic character. Doesn’t democracy really mean giving equal rights to the other members of the society too? And doesn’t this principle apply to both individuals and nations?
Even a simple listing of some provisions of UN basic Charter immediately gives prominence to serious contradictions that US foreign policy brings forward in relation to legitimate rights of other states. Thus, UN Charter13 underlines, for example, that:
- The international law is the same for all, according to art. 1, par. 1, specifying the obligation for states “to settle or solve disputes by peaceful means and in accordance with principles of justice and international law.” It is therefore forbidden—under international law—for a state to start vendetta without taking into account the opinion of the other members of UN Treaty, which each state joined, assuming to comply with agreed conditions.
- The principle of equality is emphasized according to art. 2, par. 1: “the organization is founded on the principle of sovereign equality of all its members.” It is also worth pointing out here that no state can claim international order that is primarily to its advantage.
- State’s sovereignty must be respected, according to art. 2, par. 4: “All the members of the organization will avoid in their international relations to resort to threat with violence or its use against territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” This is the very fundamental purpose of an international organization, to mediate tensions that may arise between sovereign nations; this is the basis of leading the state out of chaos and anarchy.
If we were to relate to the whole history of international law, the “golden rule”—pinpointed by all great thinkers in the last hundred years and presented as foundation in all treaties between states—was to establish and comply with common standards, in other words, a right must be equally applicable to all members of a community.
Let us think now: does the United States apply the provision to resolve conflicts peacefully, resorting to force only when UN Security Council approves it based on the majority agreement of the 192 member states? Is sovereignty and equal dignity of Member States respected? Is political independence of the nations respected? How can we speak of justification of “preemptive strikes” (before the existence of a concrete deed) when the very seed of all liberties is presumption of innocence, recorded in any legal code? Instead of all this, the United States set up and operates on the basis of different rules, parallel to those of international law. Washington outlines concepts such as “US national security,” “US preeminence,” “preventive attack,” or “regime change.” The application on the spot of these concepts enforcement often comes into flagrant disagreement with principles and provisions which all United Nations members joined.
As a reflection of these discrepancies, we might, for example, wonder: Why US National Security necessarily implies “maintaining balance of power in our favor and advancing international order that will lead most to our security and prosperity?”14 Wouldn’t international order really be possible for the benefit of all states, regarded as equal?
A pragmatic response to a question similar to the ones above was provided by Henry Kissinger in 2002. In a discussion about the US Strategy of National Security and preeminence (status of being higher than others), Kissinger affirms that it is “not in the American national interests to establish preemption as a universal principle available to every nation.”15 Commenting Kissinger’s account, the well-known analyst Arthur Schleisinger noted very comprehensively that “only to reserve to the United States this right means to turn our nation into judge, jury and executioner of the world.”16
Kissinger’s answer clearly shows that for the United States “universal principles” are just instruments that it has “at hand” to act strictly in its individual (not collectively) interest. This means that, for some, the “single rule,” “universal,” may also be interpreted by personal interests, which is the very definition of double standards (measures). A very eloquent example that this strategy was assumed from the highest level of White House administration is represented by a speech by Bill Clinton at the time when he was the president of the United States. In his speech in front of the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 1993, he said: “we will often work in partnership with others and through multilateral institutions such as the United Nations. It is in our national interest to do so. But we must not hesitate to act unilaterally when there is a threat to our core interests.”17 Regarding the unilateral way of acting and what the core interests of the United States are, they were explicitly stated during his mandate as follows: “When interests at stake are vital (…) the United States will do whatever it takes to defend them, including unilateral use of military power. Vital national interests of US include (…) ensuring uninhibited access to key markets, energy supply and strategic resources.”18
So when it comes to key markets, energy and strategic resources— world-wide, of course—US must have unhindered access! US representatives believe that access to these objectives is not a matter of multilateral relations (even if other states may be involved and have interests too), but they are part of “US vital interests” and if anyone contests this American “right,” then they can expect military retaliation. Actually that is exactly what happened when Iraq, Libya or other states had the “revolting” idea of not selling, for example, oil for dollars. A basic US motto would be as follows: we collaborate “multilaterally” when it is in our interest, but if US interest (which must prevail over interests of other nations) is threatened, then we act “unilaterally.”
In fact, the Pentagon and the White House believe they have the authority to do “what they think it is necessary,” even without UN permission, including “preventively” attack any state, even if they only have the impression it represents a threat. This was the case of Iraq, when it was later proved that “urgent” and “threatening” premises were completely false. However—as Benjamin Barber points out—American exceptionalism claims that only the United States would be allowed to apply the “doctrine of preventive attack,” not to speak about common standards valid for all states. By ironizing the situation, Barber emphasizes that in the conception of Washington administration, international law should be reformulated as follows: “Nations may resort to war only in cases of self-defense, except the United States, which, because they are special, may resort to war whenever they want.”19
Similarly, the United States believes it has the right to intervene in other countries and to change regime after regime, it has the right to finance rebels and opposition groups, but if from another country there is even suspicion of getting involved in any way in elections in America, this becomes international scandal. Such scandal persists for three years with regard to the so-called Russian Federation meddling in US 2016 elections favoring Donald Trump. If we believe in Vladimir Putin’s words, he asserted in 2018 in an interview that Russian officials repeatedly reminded American counterparts that “you constantly get involved in our political life.” US administration response was, in compliance with Putin’s account that “Yes, we interfere, but we are entitled to do so because we promote democracy and you do not, so you cannot do this.”20
Perhaps it is funny, but facts fully confirm that this is how Washington leaders see things. As mentioned above in detail, there are public data showing that US was frequently involved in electoral processes in other countries, including Russia.
Here is another significant account in this regard, published by New York Times, which comes from a US intelligence service veteran, Loch Johnson: “We’ve been doing this kind of thing since the CIA was created in 1947. We’ve used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners — you name it. We’ve planted false information in foreign newspapers. We’ve used what the British call ‘King George’s cavalry’: suitcases of cash.”21 The former agent also testified that in the late 1980s CIA were running almost 70–80 “insertions” of information daily into foreign news media, many of which was false information meant to manipulate the electorate. All this was overtly admitted in one of the most important newspapers in America.
But there are even very elaborate reports, academic studies on this subject. Such a study, by Carnegie University, entitled Biased Electoral Interventions of Great Powers22 carried out a comparative analysis of US and Russian interventions in elections of other states for the period 1946–2000. The survey found 81 US and 36 Russian interventions. Related to this result, Steven L. Hall, who headed CIA operations for Russia by 2015, explained to New York Times that it isn’t really the same that both Russia and America influenced elections in other states: “It is like saying that cops and bad guys are the same because they both have weapons—motivation matters.”23 So this is another example of double standards. We get that the United States is a World Gendarme that is entitled to violate rules by virtue of its noble mission to establish planetary justice, and USSR and Russian Federation can only be on the “bad guys’” side, even though they do the same as the US.
This is precisely the current background of hysteria in America related to “Russia’s meddling” in US elections. For two years, the case has been investigated with great scandal, the subject was daily updated by the media; they even enforced economic sanctions on Russian Federation. As for the position of the American establishment over its own meddling in elections in other states, including Russia, the subject is almost totally ignored, or at most seen as an absolutely understandable fact.
Let’s see now another example of double standards application by US leaders. We already know that when someone considered terrorist is housed by a particular state, the US labels the host state as “terrorist” and that state becomes target of “war on terror.” But when a terrorist is accommodated and even used in undercover operations by CIA, it becomes perfectly justifiable. In 2005, Venezuela demanded extradition from the United States of one of the best-known Latin American terrorists, Luis Posada Carriles, accused of bombing a Cuban plane and killing its seventy-three passengers. But in the meantime Posada was already engaged in an undercover US secret service for a mission against Nicaragua. The situation was presented by Boston Globe in the United States as raising the following issues: “Extraditing him for trial could send a worrisome signal to covert foreign agents that they cannot count on unconditional protection from the US government, and it could expose the CIA to embarrassing public disclosures from a former operative.”24 The US courts involved rejected Venezuela’s request, which represented violation of the treaty on extradition previously signed by the two countries. The irony is that just one day after the final rejection, Robert Mueller, the head of FBI at that time, announced governments of Europe that the United States seek to expedite extradition of individuals accused of terrorism by the US. According to the article, “FBI chief wants faster EU extraditions,” published by United Press International, Mueller stated “We are always looking to see how we can make the extradition process go faster. We think we owe it to the victims of terrorism to see to it that justice is done efficiently and effectively.”25 Certainly, the multiple nuances of American politics were appreciated by the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.
(To be continued)