by Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog
Currently, the biggest challenge faced by the world is Pandemic. Outbreak early this year has engulfed the whole world. Indeed, the COVID-19 is not too fatal, yet due to its highly contagious nature, it has impacted society adversely. It is a new virus, a lot of studies are going on, especially on its cure and vaccines. Yet, nothing is commercially available; all such R&D is at the laboratory level. Either it is stage one or two or any other advanced stage, yet it might take some time to make the vaccine available at a commercial scale for everybody to be benefitted.
The number of CVID-19 cases has exceeded 20 million, with a death toll of around 750,000. The economic impact is even more visible. And some of the countries are already slipped into recession, while few are almost near to collapse. Social distance has made everyday life more difficult, people are losing jobs, businesses are suffering, and some of the markets have been closed.
At this challenging moment, the whole world was looking toward the US as a global leader to rescue them. Developing countries and underdeveloped countries were more miserable and was expecting much more from the US. Even the developed nations and well-advanced countries were also expecting some kind of assistance or help from the US.
Unfortunatetely, the US was the worst-hit country in the world, with the highest number of Coronavirus cases and the death toll. It was the time when the US can prove its global leadership role. NATO allies, other friendly countries were in award position, when the US showed cold shoulders.
It is entirely right; every country should look after its own interest and must say his own country first. But for a leader, one has to take everyone else along with and protect everyone.
Acknowledging the US’s global leadership, just after World War II (WWII), by launching the Marshal Program aimed to rebuild war-torn Europe was a successful model. As a result, the US gained a leadership role. But during the last couple of decades, the US policies witnessed a deviation from Global responsibilities.
The US was leaving International organizations and treaties, one after another, ignoring its global obligations and escaping from global responsibilities gradually.
- In 1982, to maintain its maritime hegemony, the United States refused to sign the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), of which it is still not a party. It has created an imbalance of power in the global maritime and vulnerability.
- In 1984, the United States formally withdrew from UNESCO, dissatisfied with the gradual erosion of its social control by developing countries. After returning to the Organization in 2003, it once again withdrew in 2017 on the so-called ground of saving funds and urging reform. UNESCO suffered a considerable loss in its routine functions. It has impacted the capabilities of the Organization adversely due to a shortage of funds.
- In 1985, the United States refused to recognize the compulsory jurisdiction of the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) after Nicaragua complained that US armed intervention violated its sovereignty. A message that the US was not sincere about global justice. As a matter of fact, the US was extensively involved in war-crimes and international terrorism and scared of convictions.
- In 1995, the United States withdrew from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and refused to pay arrears by claiming domestic budgetary constraints, damaging the global industrialization program. Yet increased its defense budget.
- The United States has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol since 2001, saying it was not in its national interest to meet relevant environmental obligations. By withdrawing, the US denied its responsibility in protecting the global environment. It should be noted that damaging the environment is a severe collective crime with humanity.
- In 2001, the United States withdrew from the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance after failing to prevent discussion of Israeli military action against Palestinians. Today, what is happening in the US is also the result of these policies.
- In 2001, to strengthen its military advantage, the United States formally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1972. However, it gave supremacy to the US but created an arms race world-wide, forcing other nations to compete in the US.
- In 2002, the United States withdrew from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, citing unfavorable terms for American soldiers, diplomats, and politicians. It was a message that the US did not feel globally obliged not to commit war crimes, espionage, the aggression of sovereign states, etc.
- In 2017, the United States announced its formal withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because it believed that multilateral trade agreements were not in its best interests and hindered its “America First” policy. Although the US is the largest economy of the world, it yet believes in unfair practices.
- In 2017, the US government announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, aimed to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, believing that it could hinder economic development. An irrational approach and wrong decision again.
- In 2017, the United States withdrew from negotiations of the United Nations Global impact on Migration and cast votes against the UNGCM at the UN General Assembly.
- In 2018, even though the IAEA confirmed Iran’s fulfillment of its JCPOA commitment and that the United States had no clear evidence to show Iran conducted nuclear tests in breach of the deal, the United States withdrew from the JCPOA, a deal that has been endorsed by the United Nations Security Council and re-imposed unilateral sanctions against Iran. This decision has damaged the US image adversely. Contaraily imposed irrational sanctions on Iran, making the lives of Iranian more miserable.
- In 2018, the US announced its withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council, claiming it failed to protect human rights adequately. The current violence in the US may also be the outcome of this decision.
- In 2018, the United States withdrew from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes relating to the jurisdiction of the ICJ in order to avoid a Palestinian complaint filed legitimately to the ICJ. It has caused a strong wave of anti-American sentiments in the Arab world.
- In 2019, the United States withdrew from the INF Treaty to develop short- and medium-range missiles without restraint. Again a wrong decision at wrong timings, pushing the world toward developing more lethal weapons.
- In 2020, under the pretext of alleged Russian violations of the Open Skies Treaty, the United States announced steps to exit the Treaty.
- In 2020, the US government, looking for scapegoats for its botched response to COVID-19, announced its withdrawal from the World Health Organization. It should be noted that the United States still owes more than $200 million in assessed contributions. Will the US pay this sum before going out? Exactly, when WHO needs to be strengthened, the US decision harmed the Organization’s capabilities.
Notably, the Trump-Administration has focused only on “America First,” leaving the rest of the world ignored. The Pandemic has exposed Trump-administration’s policies further. Europe was suffering from COVID-19 and expecting that the US may come up with some kind of help and rescue. But, unfortunately, this was not in the minds of the Trump-Administration.
If the United States tries to escape from its global responsibilities, it may no longer enjoy the status of global leadership. The gap created by the US may be filled-in by some other powers. Enjoy authority, but with responsibilities!
Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.