2 October 2019   Leave a comment

Samanth Subramanian has written an excellent essay for the Huffington Post entitled “What if the World Treated the U.S. Like a Rogue State“. The essay goes through the history of sanctions as an instrument of diplomacy, and raises the possibility of the world using sanctions to rein in the excesses of US foreign policy. The issue seems clear:

“The U.S. has never hesitated to make up the rules for itself, but after the end of World War II, it was largely cast as a hegemon maintaining a global order. Now, it is a hegemon that scorns that order. More and more, the world fears that Trump is only a symptom of a much deeper problem, said James Davis, an American political scientist at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. European politicians in particular, he said, worry that deep social trends in America—towards chauvinism, insularity and coercion—will keep blooming even after Trump leaves the White House. Other governments ‘aren’t going to be willing to deal with you on the same terms again,’ Davis added. ‘They won’t trust the system. They’ll worry that in a few years, there will be another explosion.

“So the question is worth asking: How much longer will it be before the rest of the world thinks about punishing the U.S. for its misdemeanors? And how would they even go about disciplining a country as mighty as the United States?”

Subramanian identifies the dollar as the most likely weakness that other states could use to influence US policy. Indeed, the US currently uses the dollar’s special status as a trusted reserve currency to force other states to follow US policy against countries such as Iran and Cuba. There are reasons to believe that many states would prefer to have alternative currencies to trust, but there are few viable alternatives at this point. If the US economy weakens, then that tactic would become more feasible. But sanctions targeted against the US dollar would probably not work now.

Writing for Vox, Alex Ward outlines a proposal currently being considered by the US to restart negotiations between the US and North Korea. Up to this point, the US has demanded complete denuclearization by North Korea as a condition for lifting the sanctions against North Korea. Ward believes that the following are critical parts of the proposal:

“Here’s the offer, according to two sources familiar with the negotiations: The United Nations would suspend sanctions on Pyongyang’s textile and coal exports for 36 months in exchange for the verifiable closure of the Yongbyon nuclear facility and another measure, most likely the end of North Korea’s uranium enrichment.

“It’s a risky but reasonable move, experts tell me. Reasonable because asking North Korea to completely dismantle its nuclear program before receiving sanctions relief — as the Trump administration has since the start of nuclear talks — was likely always going to be rejected by Pyongyang. What’s more, Yongbyon is the ‘heart’ of the country’s nuclear program and tearing down its many facilities would greatly blunt Kim Jong Un’s arsenal.

“It’s a risky proposal, though, because North Korea could continue to improve its weaponry over the three-year period. Experts in the US and South Korea also say it will take much more than three years to verifiably destroy all the nuclear facilities, documents, and other materials at Yongbyon — assuming international inspectors are granted the requisite access at all.”

The proposal is a significant step forward and it is one that former National Security Adviser John Bolton would have vigorously opposed. US Secretary of State Pompeo is likely to be uncomfortable with the plan as well, but Pompeo seems to be willing to go along with anything that President Trump proposes. North Korea has clearly been updating its nuclear arsenal throughout this hiatus in negotiations, and has given no concrete evidence that it has any intention of giving up its nuclear weapons. It has launched nine missiles since June, including what may have been a missile launch from a submarine.

Posted October 2, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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