The US is scrapping the Iran deal, and the rest of the world is trying to comprehend what comprehensive means.
Since unilaterally deciding to opt out of the international agreement referred to as the Iran deal, Washington has insisted that the aim is to achieve something more comprehensive. Reuters reports that the White House “reiterated the need for a comprehensive deal that addresses all aspects of Iran’s destabilizing activity in the Middle East.”
Here is today’s 3D definition:
All inclusive. When used by the government of the United States, a synonym for blatantly contradictory and incomprehensible.
The issues that the US wishes to be comprehended in a new agreement as laid out by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are: “Iranian bad behavior, not just their nuclear program, but their missiles and their malign behavior as well.”
We can only suppose that the “bad behavior” is the same thing as the aforementioned “destabilizing activity.” In a tweet, Donald Trump himself was much more precise when he wrote, “They were trying to take over the Middle East by whatever means necessary.”
One is left wondering, when comparing Iranian and American behavior in the Middle East for the past 70 years and especially the past 17 years, which nation is most guilty of “trying to take over the Middle East by whatever means necessary.”
To determine which country may be the greater offender, we would have to ask these questions:
1) Which of the two countries is actually in the Middle East?
2) How many countries has either Iran or the US invaded?
3) Which of the two countries actually overthrew the democratically elected leader of the other one (in 1953)?
4) Which of the two countries incited a neighbor of the other country to go to war against its neighbor in 1980?
5) Which of the two countries possesses the variety of “means” that theoretically permit taking over a region?
One other question commands our attention, as the issue today focuses on the sanctions the US is intending to impose on enterprises of the so-called allied nations who co-signed the Iran deal: Which nation in the entire world believes it can unilaterally make decisions designed to punish its own allies because they unanimously refuse to violate international agreements?
The answers to all the above questions could not be more obvious. That doesn’t mean that “justice,” or rather democratic logic, will prevail. Five nations representing nearly a quarter (23.2%) of the global population cannot effectively oppose the whims of an individual leader of another nation that represents 4.28% of the world’s population.
As @realDonaldTrump said, US sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy. German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) May 8, 2018
Despite the post-war successes of the US economy and the positive effects of the Marshall Plan that allowed Europe to re-emerge from the devastation of the war, the image of the US in the rest of the world has from the 1950s onward suffered from the nagging perception of the “ugly American” — ugly but rich, of course. Being rich helped enormously, as immortalized in the popular tune from the 1940s, Rum and Coca-Cola.
The epithet “ugly American” was applied both to tourists and the government, which is reputed to interfere regularly in other nations’ politics and culture. It became several notches uglier as a result of George W. Bush’s policies in the Middle East. This only superficially improved under Barack Obama thanks to his personal charisma, despite a foreign policy that in some ways intensified the errors of Bush. Pew Research has been tracking the question since 2002 which tells us that “the proportion of the public that views American power as a major threat to their country grew in 21 of the 30 nations between 2013 and 2017.”
The image of the US may soon turn from ugly but rich to hideous and abusive. When the new US ambassador to Germany tweeted something between an order and a threat to German industry on his first day on the job, whatever goodwill he hoped to have in Germany quickly dissipated.
So long as the rest of the world believes that it is “workin’ for the Yankee dollar,” those who do the workin’ may continue to obey orders issued from Washington, though in the past part of the success was conditioned by appending to the order a diplomatic “pretty please.” The dollar itself is losing its hegemony but still packs a punch. In the aftermath of the withdrawal from Iran deal, the rest of the world may get to work on building the mirror that will allow the US to see how ugly the American has become.
*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]
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