For America, convergence of geo-economic interests ‘trumps’ all

Durdana Najam

First, he decided to stay neutral on Turkey’s military operation against the Kurds. However, when a bloodbath attending Kurds made palpable the re-emergence of the Islamic State and invited criticism on the US on its doublespeak on Syria, President Trump rushed for a face-saving move. He warned Turkey of “complete annihilation of its economy”, if Erdogan did not pull his forces from the Syrian border.  

The US measures the worth of a country either in terms of military alliances or as to how little or how much they have helped the Americans defeat an enemy. On the other hand, suiting the circumstance, a human rights violation could be ignored on the pretext of being an “internal matter” of the perpetrating country; like the 70 plus days of curfew in Kashmir has been overlooked. Or if the situation demands, and in case of a foe, the rights violations could be used as an instrument of political coercion.

It is upon the US to decide who should be destroyed and who should be spared. Those who fall in line with the US-led “Western” coalition are the “good boys”, but those who resist and defy are condemned and marked as “not wanted”. 

For the US and Western powers, the shelf life of a moral values expires the moment it collides with their geo-economic or geopolitical interests.    

Afghanistan has been dealt with in a similar manner. Every effort to wind down the war has been scuttled and the blame of its wages was laid at everyone’s doorsteps except the US. The security situation in Afghanistan is perhaps worse today than when the US invaded it in October 2001 to avenge the 9/11 attacks. Interestingly the attacks were orchestrated by Al-Qaeda, who had nothing to do with Afghanistan. But since a superpower had decided on invasion, the rest of the world followed suit in a brazen violation of international law.

With 38,000 civilians killed and millions more traumatized and exiled, the US is using the Afghan soil to influence the Great Game that pits China together with Russia, Turkey, and Iran against the United States, India, Japan, and Australia. From the assessment made about Afghanistan’s presidential election running into controversy by Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy to Afghanistan, and Ambassador John Bass, on Tolo TV, to simultaneously providing 29 million dollars for the elections and the sudden suspension of the Doha peace talks; each step was an indication towards the US intention of not relinquishing its hold on Afghanistan any time sooner.

Never had the US paid heed to the multiple reports produced by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction and the United Nations about the pervasive corruption in Afghanistan that has further dented every prospect of progress in Afghanistan. Has any corrupt politician, warlord or influential person in the Afghan government been tried on corruption charges? Never.

On the contrary, the request made in April 2019, by the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to investigate war crimes against humanity by the Taliban, by the Afghan National Security Forces, and the US military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was rejected by the Judges at the ICC. The decision was seen by the Human Rights Watch as a devastating blow for the victims.

Param-Preet Singh, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch said: “The judges’ logic effectively allows member countries to opt-out of cooperating with the court and sends a dangerous message to all governments that obstructionist tactics can put them beyond the court’s reach,”

The matter did not stop at that. To prevent any similar move from rearing its head in the future, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened the ICC judges of revocation or denial of US visa if they proceeded to investigate the US forces or CIA for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. Bensouda eventually had to face the brunt: his US visa was revoked as reported by The Guardian.

The explanation of this discriminatory behaviour was as horrendous as the act itself. In its ruling, the judges said that any investigation and prosecution into the war crimes were likely to fail because those against whom the charges of crime were levelled, including the US, Afghan authorities and the Taliban would not have cooperated.  

According to the US military documents released by WikiLeaks, the US has been involved in applying unconventional military strategy in dealing with countries Washington does not find friendly.

This sounds typical of the codification of the laws of war made in the Middle Ages. Tanisha M. Fazal in her book, Wars of Law: Unintended Consequences in the Regulation of Armed Conflict, writes that the Christian Church, one of the contributors in writing the laws of war, showed conflicting interests in regulating war. Though church favoured the “application of fairness and humanitarianism to the realm of warfare,” it engaged in these values only to “conflicts between and among Christians.”

The laws of war said Fazal “was not applied to non-Christian peoples whose “barbarism” arguably justified the infliction of atrocities upon them, often in the name of civilizing native peoples and lands.”  

Another tool in the US arsenal used for exploitation and expropriation is from the modern age—-the global financial institutions. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are not just determiners of economic values, in fact, they operate in a marketplace of politics and social forces. Notwithstanding their technical review of the situation of the borrowing country, the actual policies of these institutions are shaped by political exigencies. Loans are anchored to stern conditions that put countries on the austerity path marked by higher taxes, low government spending, and rising energy tariffs—the recipe for anti-government sentiments and ensuing protests. 

Countries after countries in Latin America and Asia have been trapped by the IMF without showing any sign of development. Rather most of the countries have fallen prey to the manipulative design of the US-led West, the financers of the loan, to become their handmaidens for the advancement of their imperial agenda of amassing territorial and economic influence.   

Argentina is a case in point. Since ages, as it seems now, the country is borrowing from the IMF without showing any fiscal discipline. Every loan has opened a new poverty chasm. That instead of refusing new debt on account of its consistent failure to payback, the IMF has been pumping more funds into the Argentinian economy explains the US desire to keep its backyard swamped in poverty, internal conflict, and political turmoil. It pays in two ways. One, most of the Latin American countries, because of social unrest, could not use their abundant natural resources optimally to break out of the poverty jinx. Two, the US does not have to worry about balancing power in its immediate neighbourhood.

Therefore, while the US President Donald Trump talks of ending wars, his actions do not match his words. In fact, as soon as the geo-economic interests intervene, the value-laden application of warfare ideology peters out and self-interest takes the driving seat.  

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