International Relations: A New World Order By Sheraz Zaka

Trump has already ordered the reinstatement of sanctions on the purchase of Iran’s debt and taken steps to stop foreign companies from doing business in Iran. The European governments that spent almost two years negotiating the nuclear deal-France, Germany, Britain and the E.U. leadership-vowed to resist U.S. pressure for compliance and to protect the ability of their companies to evade U.S. penalties. European leaders have a different view. British Prime Minister Theresa May recently expressed that Iran is holding up its end of the deal. Now these countries want to protect their economies and companies from the ill effects of U.S. sanctions. The French, German and British agreed with Russia and China to try to set up a new payment system that would allow oil companies and other businesses to continue trading with Iran without having to rely on the U.S.-led global market and the dollar. In short, they’re looking for ways to redefine the broader terms of their relationships with the U.S. At present it seems, Europe is seeking to permanently alter transatlantic relations by ensuring that it is a sovereign continent, not a vassal.
Transatlantic tensions are nothing new, of course. Trump’s dismal approval ratings in Europe match those of President George W. Bush in 2008. Bush’s 2003 decision to invade Iraq united Germany, France and Russia in opposition to a U.S. foreign policy priority. Yet European leaders now face greater pressure than ever to loosen the economic and security ties that bind them to the U.S. A generation has passed since the Cold War that cemented a U.S.-European partnership. And even Bush didn’t question the value of NATO or threaten to wage a large-scale trade war on European partners. President Barack Obama saw the nuclear deal as a way to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon, to ease the hostility that has dominated relations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and to appeal to a new generation of pro-Western Iranians. Many hoped a less confrontational approach would eventually open the door to solving other problems, like Iran’s ballistic missile program; hostage-taking; threats to Israel; and military involvement in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.
On the other hand, US ties with Saudi Arabia are becoming tense by the assassination of Washington Post Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate situated in Istanbul, Turkey. It is a shameful act for Islamic world that a journalist was assassinated with such impunity.US president’s Trump said that stopping arms sales to the Saudis as punishment for Khashoggi’s assassination would be a “tough pill to swallow.” Few days ago, he said Saudi Arabia’s King Salman denied any involvement, and the president suggested that “rogue killers” could be responsible. On Tuesday, Trump said criticism of Saudi Arabia was another case of “guilty until proven innocent. Till now, US response towards the incident of killing of the journalist is confusing because it certainly seems that US does not want to sever its ties with Saudi Arabia on this issue.
Moreover the trade tariffs Trump has imposed are unlikely to return many manufacturing jobs to America since most Chinese goods will continue to be cheaper than their alternatives. US consumers will pay higher prices. The China-located supply chains of many US corporations will be disrupted, while China’s supply chains are mostly outside of the US. Nor will technology restraints significantly dent China’s 2025 technology programme, since it has already achieved considerable technological autonomy.
The China-located supply chains of many US corporations will be disrupted, while China’s supply chains are mostly outside of the US. Nor will technology restraints significantly dent China’s 2025 technology programme, since it has already achieved considerable technological autonomy
The Sino-US economic confrontation will have extensive consequences for the global economy. The IMF estimates that the US and China may lose one per cent and two per cent of growth respectively, while global growth would be trimmed by around half a percentage point. There are fears of another global recession as other economies become infected by the Sino-US trade war. The prospects of the US containing China in the Indo-Pacific are also marginal. This is China’s front yard. The US allies and friends in East Asia – even Japan, Australia and South Korea – are economically intertwined with China and will be reluctant to confront it. US Freedom of Navigation operations could lead to accidental conflict, as almost happened recently. Short of war, the US cannot wrest the South China Sea islands from China. A reckless US decision to discard the One-China policy could unleash a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
Despite US objections, and Western propaganda, China’s Belt and Road Initiative is unlikely to be derailed. Developing countries will not forego the opportunity to build infrastructure with Chinese financing. The ‘debt trap’ argument is misleading. Infrastructure investment rarely offers commercial returns. But no country can industrialise without adequate infrastructure. The US, with its parsimonious outlays on development cooperation, cannot offer an alternative to China’s Belt and Road initiative. The new Cold War will change the structures of global interaction and governance. Cooperation among the major powers on global issues (non-proliferation, climate change, terrorism) and in regions of tension (North Korea, Afghanistan, the Middle East) may be frozen. China, Russia and the countries in the Eurasian ‘heartland’ will draw closer together. Alternative trade, finance and development organizations will emerge to circumvent US domination of existing institutions. A new world order seems to be emerging.
The writer is a human rights activist, teacher and a constitutional lawyer. He can be contacted at
Published in Daily Times, November 3rd 2018.

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