By Dr. Arshad M. Khan*
Delegates to the UN are generally referred to as diplomats. But, in the wake of the vote condemning the U.S. decision on Jerusalem, one has to wonder. The permanently scowling U.S. representative, Nikki Haley, threatened reprisals — “We will be taking names” — against those who did not support the U.S. position.
The vote was 128-9. Aside from the U.S. and Israel, the seven who voted with them consisted of five minuscule Pacific island nations, whose bread and butter comes from the U.S., plus Honduras and Guatemala. In Honduras, a stolen election had the opposition up in arms because it appeared from the results that the incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez had lost to Salvador Nasralla. Following the UN vote, the U.S. threw its support behind Hernandez and Nasralla threw in the towel. Then there is Guatemala, where former generals from dictatorship days joining with President Jimmy Morales have made a smooth transition to civilian government and who the U.S. continues to support, rounding out the 9 votes. A co-founder of Morales’ Convergence Party, Ovalle Maldonado, is being investigated for the crimes of disappearances and money laundering. Now a fugitive, he is a former Colonel and a graduate of the School of the Americas and just one of many in a party ‘dominated by military officers’.
All the same, U.S. support constituted a pinprick of the world’s population. Consider on one side Nikki Haley and the U.S. with its immense economic and military power; on the other, Palestine relying only on the world’s conscience. Conscience won. In an earlier Security Council vote, the U.S. tallied 13-1 against, obliging it to use its veto.
Has the U.S. lost its clout? And what of Nikki Haley’s threats. They seem to have been forgotten by the time the next issue of North Korean sanctions was taken up. Approved and putting a strangle hold on oil, these still depend on China.
In fact, Nikki Haley’s foreign aid threat means little as foreign aid is mostly about the furtherance of U.S. policy. The principal recipients Israel and Egypt are unlikely to see cuts; the first because of its influential lobby and the other because of the peace treaty obligations. Afghanistan, the other major recipient, is busy fighting the Taliban; Jordan is fighting extremism and is like Egypt kept under control in the extent of its opposition to Israel. Then there is the Somalia conflict, and the aid recipients as a result include in particular Ethiopia used as a proxy there plus the peripheral states. Nigeria is fighting ISIS offshoots, and so it goes on.
Nikki Haley’s undiplomatic threat was not only empty but made the U.S. appear mean, nasty and child-like.
Worse have been Donald Trump’s threats against North Korea. “It can’t happen”, he tweeted about ICBM missiles early in the year; they now have them. Then there are his repeated military threats … also ignored by Kim Jong Un. Red lines have been drawn, crossed, and then no response because there is no military solution.
Often, as in chess, a certain tension is more effective in hampering opponents than the actual play out of a scenario. The U.S. chose the latter, and from Libya to Afghanistan (not to mention Vietnam) people have watched its lack of success; they have weathered the storm. It might still displace elected governments as in Ukraine, but the end result it less than satisfactory.
One might well ask, is the U.S. now in decline? The election of Donald Trump offers a clue.
About the author:
*Dr. Arshad M. Khan is a former Professor based in the US. Educated at King’s College London, OSU and The University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. Thus he headed the analysis of an innovation survey of Norway, and his work on SMEs published in major journals has been widely cited. He has for several decades also written for the press: These articles and occasional comments have appeared in print media such as The Dallas Morning News, Dawn (Pakistan), The Fort Worth Star Telegram, The Monitor, The Wall Street Journal and others. On the internet, he has written for Antiwar.com, Asia Times, Common Dreams, Counterpunch, Countercurrents, Dissident Voice, Eurasia Review and Modern Diplomacy among many. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in its Congressional Record.
This article was published at Modern Diplomacy
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