American unilateralism and the world crisis

TEHRAN, Jul. 22 (MNA) – In the following op-ed piece, the author reviews two cases of US unilateral interferences in the world affairs which led to unfair and unfavorable results and believes that US won’t have the permit to repeat these kinds of behaviors in the 21st century.

1. Friday, July 6, marked the anniversary of signing the Bayonet Constitution in Hawaii of the late 19th century. 131 years ago, in 1887, Kalakaua, the king of Hawaii under the threat of bayonet and lobby of the Americans and a group of white businessmen called Hawaiian League who were mostly involved in sugar production, was forced to sign a new constitution. Backed by the military arm of Hawaiian League, Bayonet Constitution changed the voting rights, as it gave the foreign Americans and Europeans the voting right, but restricted the native Hawaiian to only those who could meet certain financial requirements!

Later, authorized by the direct intervention of their secretary of state, the American military forces suppressed the native Hawaiians’ protests against the foreign interference in their domestic affairs. A few years later, the Americans overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy and annexed the independent country to the United States due to its strategic importance. In other words, they didn’t recognize a right for a nation in the Pacific Ocean which they had already recognized for themselves based on the Constitution of the United States in 1783. Despite their human rights rhetoric, the American statesmen authorized themselves to use force in order to change the fate of others. With such attitude, they not only gave priority to the interests of the United States over other countries, but they are presumed that the right of the Americans stands above the others.

2. In 1929, the US Senate passed a law titled the Hawley–Smoot Tariff, which imposed the highest rates of tariffs on the imported commodities in the history of that country. The then US president, Herbert Hoover who chanted slogans on protecting domestic productions and maintaining jobs for the American farmers and won the presidential election of 1928, signed the tariff act into law. Earlier, the first World Economic Conference in Geneva, 1927, which observed the symptoms of recession and the Great Depression in world economy, called for all countries to remove tariffs and boost international trade in a bid to improve the economic growth. In the United States, 1028 economists expressed their protest against imposing limitation on trade in a petition addressed to Hoover. But, pressed by the Congress, Hoover implemented the plan and raised the tariffs on imported goods by 59%. In retaliation, the other countries also raised their tariffs on American commodities. Although at the beginning, the tariff act introduced by two Republicans, Representative Willis C. Hawley and Senator Reed Smoot increased the employment rate and the number of production agreements, due to the retaliatory measures taken by other countries, the American exports sharply dropped by 61% and the GDP fell to less than a half within the next four years. On the other hand, the unemployment rate which was 8%, hiked up by 25% in just three years. Many historians and economists believe that the Hawley–Smoot Tariff Act and unilateralist policy adopted by the US government were the key factors in the continuation and exacerbation of rescission in the global economy as it reduced the scale of world trade to 33% and prepared the ground for World War II at the end of the 1930s. Despite their populist slogans, Smoot and Hawley could not even save their House seats and had to leave office two years later. Once again, the egoistic and unilateralist attitude of the American statesmen pushed their country and the entire world to a major crisis and an unprecedented destructive war. The American arrogance led the humankind to a catastrophe which cost the lives of more than 60 million people across the world.

3. Nowadays, the world is hit over again by a new wave of populist unilateralism. The current mindset which claims that simply gives priority to the interests of the American nation without trammeling the other nations’ rights has taken action against the international agreements. Recently, the incumbent US president announced that his country withdraws from Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Likewise, the American statesmen have since violated regional trade agreements such as North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and have set high tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum and automobiles from other countries. The US has also withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program. All such decisions clearly trammel the rights of people in other countries and damage life and business environment throughout the world. They launch a global trade war, which paves the way for economic recession and in turn threatens the world security. This dangerous approach is rooted not only in profiteering in business, but also in an egomaniac view of the one who sees himself superior to the others and falsely believes that has the right to determine the fate of others. Such an arrogant view is evident in the decision to ban travel of people from some Muslim countries to the United States and inhumane separation of illegal immigrants’ children from their parents.

4. But, our time differs crucially from the 19th and 20th centuries in terms of growing public awareness of the events and politics. Even if it has a disadvantage, the online world and internet data has also a great advantage as it facilitates transparency and conveys the demands of people so rapidly. In the age of information explosion, archaic and outdated ninetieth century minds are less likely to dominate public opinion. Therefore, they look less impressive and their long-term consequences will become evident in a short period of time. At the moment, all people throughout the world understand the true meaning of “America First” [chanted by the incumbent US president] which indeed means “All for the Powerful of America”, and immediately respond to that. All over the world, including the United States, a consciousness is growing toward the catastrophic policies of the US government which has caused widespread negative responses. Governments of other countries are also challenging the unilateral measures taken by American statesmen, for instance in the fight over tariff rates. The upcoming midterm elections of the United States in November will show to what extent the American voters are aware of the looming threat. In order to avoid a global tragedy, the governments across the world should respond seriously and clearly to unilateralist, hostile measures taken by the American government. Those who know the past and can foresee the future are tasked with playing a significant role on the scene of the world’s public opinion and increase people's awareness.

MNA/TT

News Code 135964

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