US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday (15 February 2020) at the Munich Security Conference that Russia and China were ‘destabilizing the rules-based international system.’
Speaking immediately after him, the US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper decried the ‘Chinese manipulation of the long-standing international rules-based order.’
Rules-based international system? Rules-based order? Really?
Had Mike and Mark been performing at a comedy show, they would have made the audience roll on the floor laughing with this great joke.
Just an idea. If they start ‘Mike and Mark Comedy Night,’ it would be a tremendously successful show, topping the charts right away. They could actually fill the whole season with the jokes on the ‘Rules-based international system.’
Rules-based international system. For sure.
Unfortunately, we need to take Secretary Pompeo and Secretary Esper seriously. We should not make them the butt of a joke no matter how tempting it is. They are not a joke even if they sound like one.
Instead, like good students, we should study the policies of the Trump administration to find as to what are the ‘rules’ of the international order.
Since Trump and his painstakingly assembled team have not authored any book of rules, we are left on our own.
The challenge before us: If this is a rules-based world, what are the rules?
The good old US of A seems to be the sources of all the rules that must govern this world. We must turn to them with respect, with genuine curiosity.
We want to learn. We want to educate ourselves. We want to draw inspiration from the rules made by the Trump administration.
We want to study and understand the rules, and abide by them.
Based on some of the major decisions of the Trump administration, here are a few rules we can easily discern:
Assassination of Qasem Soleimani – From the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani of the Qods Force of Iran, we can derive one rule: If we don’t agree with the policies of a country, we are at liberty to assassinate their top leadership; in doing so we don’t need to consult with our allies and close friends.
Withdrawal in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal – The unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 clearly provides the basis of a rule: We can ditch any international agreement without worrying or thinking about consequences. If in doing so we put our allies in a very difficult position, it is of no significance for us.
Withdrawal in 2017 from TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) – The sudden withdrawal from TPP gives birth to a useful rule: No matter how long it took to create a multi-tiered partnership of global nature, you can just tear it away and throw it into the dustbin. Just like that.
Totally unjustified travel ban on some countries – The heavy travel ban on certain countries is helpful in making a simple rule: You can put blanket travel ban on any country for ‘security’ reasons even if no terrorist ever came to the USA from those countries.
Pressure on Ukraine to cooperate against a political opponent – The use of pressure on Ukraine to procure their cooperation in obtaining dirt against a political opponent is the base of a rule: If a friendly country is economically weak and looks toward you for support, you can totally treat it as a vassal rather than a sovereign country.
Trade war on China – The trade war and ever increasing sanctions on China are apparently also driven by a rule: If the economy of a country is about to overtake you on the strength of their planning and hard work, you should use all means, fair and foul, to damage that country.
US$ 28 billion subsidies to American farmers – The subsidies of US$ 28 billion to the American farmers to give them a weighted advantage against China is motivated by a rule: Your rhetoric about fair trade and open competition should remain just that – rhetoric. Don’t practice what you preach.
These are just a few examples. Actually, it is possible to compile a hefty book of rules based on the decisions and actions of Trump and his team.
* * *
This is the moment of reckoning.
The USA has been trying to run the world on these kinds of rules and has the cheek to call it ‘rules-based international system.’
The shoulder-to-shoulder mantra is part of the reason why the USA is usually able to get away with such unjust practices.
It is about time to wake up from the stupor caused by the Marshall Plan.
The people mesmerized by the shoulder-to-shoulder abracadabra should try to acquire corrective lens for better vision. They would be able to see what the rest of the world can see already: They are the ones providing both the shoulders. Uncle Sam is not in the business of lending its shoulder to anyone.
If every country in the world were to follow the rules created by the USA through its actions, all of us would end up in the deepest possible abyss with no likelihood for recovery. — That would be a wonderful place for our future generations to admire the beauty of the ‘rules-based international system.’ /// nCa, 17 February 2020