• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

SPRING FUNDRAISER

Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Brexit Vote and Russia Sanctions Show Weakness of US Diplomacy

shutterstock_442671520

With the media in a frenzy in the wake of the Brexit vote, one aspect of the results that has been utterly overlooked is the impact, or lack thereof, of the campaigning by US President Barack Obama for Britain to remain in the EU.  And while the results of the referendum will have far-reaching ramifications in Britain – the immigrant community has already seen a nearly 60% increase in racist attacks and abuse reported – perhaps one of the most significant in terms of international politics is the realization of just how ineffectual the US president is in swaying public opinion on the other side of the Atlantic.

But the larger implication is that the US as a political force is not the public relations superpower it once was.  Moreover, the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, has demonstrated time and again that phrases such as “cooperation” and “European partnership” are merely hollow expressions of propaganda, rather than genuine descriptions of mutually respectful relations.  Indeed, what is clear is that the US establishment, regardless of which wing of the single corporate party is in power, is less interested in relationship-building than it is in dictatorship-building; accept US diktats…or else.

US Threatens Others – What Else Is New?

When Obama visited Britain in April he delivered a quite harshly worded warning to the British people: remain in the EU or suffer the consequences.  Specifically, Obama threatened that if Britain were to leave the EU it would find itself on the wrong end of trade deals, thereby negatively impacting the British economy.  Obama grandiosely proclaimed:

“I think it’s fair to say that maybe some point down the line there might be a UK-US trade agreement, but it’s not going to happen any time soon because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement done…The UK is going to be in the back of the queue.”

The overt threat of the US punishing the UK for voting the wrong way is par for the course when it comes to what could loosely be described as “diplomacy” by the US political establishment. Indeed, threats seem to be one of the few means by which Washington is able to get its allies in Europe to fall in line with US policy.

This fact is perhaps best illustrated by the sanctions imposed by the European Union against Russia in the wake of the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s support for the rebels of Donetsk and Lugansk.  It is no secret that the sanctions were imposed, and subsequently extended, against Russia thanks in large part to arm-twisting by the Obama administration which sought to use the sanctions as an economic and psychological weapon against Russia in hopes of punishing Russian President Putin and his circle of advisers, and of course the Russian people more generally.

As White House spokesperson Josh Earnest explained to reporters in 2015:

My understanding is that the plan is for the President, when he goes to Europe, is to have a discussion with fellow European leaders about the need to extend the sanctions regime that’s currently in place… there are a number of steps involved in that process, and this will be part of the conversation — frankly, a wide-ranging discussion that the President will have with his G7 counterparts…the longer that the sanctions are in place, the more of an economic bite they take out of the Russian economy and the more pressure is applied to President Putin and the more President Putin and the country that he leads becomes isolated.

The obvious implication of Earnest’s wordy statement is that Obama was going to Europe to convince, coax, and cajole key European leaders of the need to sabotage their own economic cooperation with Russia as a means of punishing the country or, to put in more realist terms, to please Washington by displeasing Moscow.

And, despite talking points from the US and Europe to the contrary, the EU sanctions on Russia have indeed hurt the European economy and clearly go against its own interests.  According to an independent 2015 studycarried out by the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO), and commissioned by newspapers in the Leading European Newspaper Alliance – with involvement from Tribune de Genève (Switzerland), Le Figaro (France), El Pais (Spain), and Die Welt (Germany) – the sanctions against Russia would cost Europe up to €100 billion in economic development and jeopardize up to 2.5 million jobs.

In fact, the sanctions have been so divisive in Europe that earlier this year EU foreign ministers were in sharp disagreement over the need for extending the sanctions further.  As has been the case since the sanctions were first imposed, the states closest in relations with the US were the most hawkish on the need for continued sanctions, while other influential countries were more inclined to drop the sanctions and move forward.

Of particular note has been the position of Germany which has at once supported sanctions and the reasoning behind them, and simultaneously inked contracts with Russia for the construction of a new Nord Stream pipeline to bring Russian energy to Germany’s all important industrial sector.  Naturally, a number of European leaders have mused openly about why their economies should suffer while Europe’s economic engine in Germany manages to continue humming along, reaping the benefits of economic cooperation with Russia. The answer is not hard to figure: Washington demands it.

But as the realization of Obama’s inability to impact the Brexit vote sets in, many might be left wondering why they’re still listening to the US at all.  It must be said that millions of Britons were of course in favor of remaining in the EU, though it is an open question whether the remonstrations from the US President had any impact on their decision.

Ultimately, the Brexit vote was more about British politics, nativism, the political co-location of the far right and far left, discontent among the working class, and a number of other factors.  But for those of us who yearn to see a more equitable distribution of power globally, we cannot help but notice that despite all the threats from the White House, Wall Street, and the media organs of institutional power, Britain is leaving the EU.  Maybe it’s time Washington took seriously the notion that its allies are equal partners, not junior ones.

More articles by:

Eric Draitser is an independent political analyst and host of CounterPunch Radio. You can find his exclusive content including articles, podcasts, audio commentaries, poetry and more at patreon.com/ericdraitser. He can be reached at ericdraitser@gmail.com.

May 26, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump Administration and the Washington Post: Picking Fights Together
John Kendall Hawkins
The Gods of Small Things
Patrick Cockburn
Governments are Using COVID-19 Crisis to Crush Free Speech
George Wuerthner
Greatest Good is to Preserve Forest Carbon
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Covid-19 Conspiracies of German Neo-Nazis
John G. Russell
TRUMP-20: The Other Pandemic
John Feffer
Trump’s “Uncreative Destruction” of the US/China Relationship
John Laforge
First US Citizen Convicted for Protests at Nuclear Weapons Base in Germany
Ralph Nader
Donald Trump, Resign Now for America’s Sake: This is No Time for a Dangerous, Law-breaking, Bungling, Ignorant Ship Captain
James Fortin – Jeff Mackler
Killer Capitalism’s COVID-19 Back-to-Work Imperative
Henry Giroux
Criminogenic Politics as a Form of Psychosis in the Age of Trump
Binoy Kampmark
Patterns of Compromise: The EasyJet Data Breach
Howard Lisnoff
If a Covid-19 Vaccine is Discovered, It Will be a Boon to Military Recruiters
David Mattson
Grizzly Bears are Dying and That’s a Fact
Thomas Knapp
The Banality of Evil, COVID-19 Edition
May 25, 2020
Marshall Auerback
If the Federal Government Won’t Fund the States’ Emergency Needs, There is Another Solution
Michael Uhl
A Memory Fragment of the Vietnam War
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
Make a Resilient, Localized Food System Part of the Next Stimulus
Barrie Gilbert
The Mismanagement of Wildlife in Utah Continues to be Irrational and a National Embarrassment.
Dean Baker
The Sure Way to End Concerns About China’s “Theft” of a Vaccine: Make it Open
Thom Hartmann
The Next Death Wave from Coronavirus Will Be the Poor, Rural and White
Phil Knight
Killer Impact
Paul Cantor
Memorial Day 2020 and the Coronavirus
Laura Flanders
A Memorial Day For Lies?
Gary Macfarlane – Mike Garrity
Grizzlies, Lynx, Bull Trout and Elk on the Chopping Block for Trump’s Idaho Clearcuts
Cesar Chelala
Challenges of the Evolving Coronavirus Pandemic
Luciana Tellez-Chavez
This Year’s Forest Fire Season Could Be Even Deadlier
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Beijing Acts on Hong Kong
George Wuerthner
Saving the Lionhead Wilderness
Elliot Sperber
Holy Beaver
Weekend Edition
May 22, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Hugh Iglarsh
Aiming Missiles at Viruses: a Plea for Sanity in a Time of Plague
Paul Street
How Obama Could Find Some Redemption
Marc Levy
On Meeting Bao Ninh: “These Good Men Meant as Much to Me as Yours Did to You”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Shallò: 120 Days of COVID
Joan Roelofs
Greening the Old New Deal
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Still Matters
Charles Pierson
Is the US-Saudi Alliance Headed Off a Cliff?
Robert Hunziker
10C Above Baseline
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
The Fed’s Chair and Vice Chair Got Rich at Carlyle Group, a Private Equity Fund With a String of Bankruptcies and Job Losses
Eve Ottenberg
Factory Farming on Hold
Andrew Levine
If Nancy Pelosi Is So Great, How Come Donald Trump Still Isn’t Dead in the Water?
Ishmael Reed
Alex Azar Knows About Diabetes
Joseph Natoli
Will Things Fall Apart Now or in November?
Richard D. Wolff
An Old Story Again: Capitalism vs. Health and Safety
Louis Proyect
What Stanford University and Fox News Have in Common
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail