Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, the US has been able to exert tremendous influence on other nations through its military and economic power. The world no longer was bipolar with the US and the Soviet Union competing for leadership. Instead, it has been a unipolar world under US hegemonic leadership.
In 1997, US neoconservatives created a think tank, Project for the New American Century, to promote and extend American global leadership. In 2000, PNAC issued a report, ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses’ that called for extending the US global leadership through maintaining the preeminence of US military forces. It was also considered important to deter the rise of a new great-power competitor.
During the period since 1991, the US has misrepresented itself as a benign hegemon. The US mainstream media has worked hard to convince the US public and the world that US actions are for good causes. The US corporate media tout this era as a continuation of Pax Americana.
However, many nations around the world view things very differently. They see, for example, the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 that was based on lies as a major war crime that devastated Iraq and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. There were no sanctions imposed on the US or its allies for this shocking crime and no call for reparations to help rebuild Iraq.
Moreover, this attack, along with the US involvement in the attack on Libya and its military support for terrorists in Syria, created instability and devastation throughout much of the Middle East.
Illegal Use of Sanctions
Many countries also question the US’s use of unilateral sanctions. Currently, the US has imposed sanctions on 39 nations including about 1/3 of the globe’s population. Many of the sanctioned countries haven’t complied with US political positions and their people have paid a horrible price for these nations attempting to maintain their sovereignty.
Although the US corporate media seldom if ever reports it, sanctions not approved by the UN Security Council are a violation of the UN Charter. So much for the US touted idea of a rules-based order. Moreover, perhaps even worse, the US uses secondary sanctions to prevent other nations from trading with the targeted nations.
In general, sanctions most severely affect the vulnerable and represent a most cruel form of economic warfare, similar to the idea of the siege warfare in the past. Moreover, history shows that the great majority of these illegal sanctions don’t work in bringing about the changes the US wants. For example, the US has had sanctions on Cuba for about six decades without bringing down the Cuban government. Among the sanctioned nations, the people of Venezuela have suffered particularly incredible hardships.
Coups Overthrowing Democracies
These nations also see the US support for coups and attempted coups in many nations, e.g., in Haiti in 2004, in Honduras in 2009, in Ukraine in 2014, and in Bolivia in 2019. In addition, during the past two years, there have been coups and coup attempts in Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Gambia and Mauritania led by US-trained military officers.
Protecting War Criminals
Nations around the world also see how the US prevents actions to be taken against its allies for their appalling violations of international law. Israel is a prime example, escaping any sanctions for its many war crimes, for its continuing occupation and theft of Palestinian land, and for its violations of human rights in the West Bank and Gaza.
In addition, Israel has escaped sanctions for its criminal attacks on Gaza, Lebanon and Syria and for its illegal occupation of the Golan Heights.
These US actions are hardly those of a benign force. For many of the poorer nations, the last three decades of this unipolar world, the so-called Pax Americana, have brought violence, insecurity, poverty and hunger. China is the exceptional nation that has experienced impressive improvement in the quality of life for hundreds of millions of its people during this period.
Moreover, given the US attacks on Iraq and other countries, people around the world are angry about US hypocrisy over imposing sanctions on Russia for its criminal invasion of Ukraine. For example, most nations strongly condemned the Russian attack, but countries, including much of Asia, Africa and South America with the majority of the world’s population, do not support the US sanctions on Russia.
Deterring a Competitor
The Russian attack on Ukraine follows eight years of ongoing fighting between Ukrainian nationalist forces and Ukrainians who rejected the 2014 US-supported coup. This coup overthrew a democratically-elected government and, unsurprisingly, the new coup government looked westward, away from Russia.
Insanely, the US knowingly provoked this 2022 Russian attack. Making matters worse, the US has not encouraged Ukraine to find a diplomatic solution to end the destruction and killing in Ukraine. Instead, the US seems willing to sacrifice Ukraine in order to weaken Russia.
A weakened Russia also harms the Russian and Chinese effort to move from a unipolar to a bipolar world. However, a bipolar world is not necessarily an answer to illegal actions by powerful nations. For example, both the US and the Soviet Union violated the sovereignty of other nations during the period that these two powers co-existed. As long as the UN Security Council allows a single permanent member to veto resolutions with no override possible, the Security Council can’t function when the interest of a powerful nation is challenged.
Regardless, the last three decades show that the US doesn’t follow or respect international law and strongly suggests there must be a force to counter the US hegemony that has done so much damage to the world. In particular, nations of the world need to work together if there is to be any chance of lessening the disastrous impact of climate chaos. The world can’t allow this malign hegemon to continue to push corporate greed over the interests of life on the planet.
– Ron Forthofer is a retired Professor and a volunteer for peace and social justice. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.