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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/7/18

Disregard for world opinion defines the US government

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From Asia Times

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Last week, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn the US embargo against Cuba. A total of 189 member-nations said Cuba did not deserve this embargo, which began in 1961 and has continued unabated to this day. Only two countries -- the United States and Israel -- voted against the motion. No country abstained.

Cuba's minister for foreign affairs, Bruno Eduardo Rodrguez Parrilla, has said the US embargo has cost the small socialist island state upwards of US $933.678 billion, with the losses in the past year amounting to $4.3 billion (twice the amount of foreign direct investment into the island). This embargo, Rodrguez Parrilla said as he put the resolution forward, is an "act of genocide" against Cuba and its people.

The Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement -- both important groupings of the Global South -- as well as regional groupings from Africa to Latin America backed the resolution. China's representative to the UN, Ma Zhaoxu, made the case that the US embargo on Cuba prevented the island from meeting its obligations to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Last year, the United States strengthened the embargo with an attack on the tourism sector (83 hotels were placed on the banned list). It is likely that President Donald Trump's administration will deepen its assault on Cuba.

Threats by the United States did not convert the vote of otherwise reliable US allies. Each year since 1992 a resolution of this kind has come before the UN General Assembly. Each year the world has overwhelmingly voted against the US embargo. This year was no different.

World worried about the United States

You don't need a Pew poll to know which way the world thinks.

But it is useful. Last month, Pew Research Center released a poll that looked at the image of Donald Trump and the United States in 25 countries around the world. In most countries, neither Trump nor the United States come off well. Seventy percent of the populations in these countries have no confidence in Trump. The same proportion of people believe that the United States does not take the interests of other countries into consideration when moving policies forward. This is evident with the US embargo on Cuba.

Neither the people of Canada nor Mexico -- the closest neighbors of the United States -- have a favorable view of either Trump or the United States. Only Israel, which voted with the United States over the embargo on Cuba, has a high opinion of Trump and of the US.

Beyond the Pew poll, it is evident from the atmosphere in the United Nations that the countries of the world -- even close US allies -- fear US policy on a number of issues. Cuba is a canary in the coal mine. But even clearer is the US policy of ramping up sanctions against Iran.

World does not want to strangle Iran

At the debate over the US embargo on Cuba, Iran's representative to the UN, Gholamali Khoshroo, detailed how the US had withdrawn from several international agreements and how it had failed to implement UN Security Council resolutions that it did not like.

Behind Khoshroo's comments lay the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal agreed upon by Iran and the UN Security Council members, the United Nations and the European Union. This deal was sanctified by a Security Council resolution. Trump's unilateral move to scuttle the nuclear deal and the return of sanctions against Iran this week replicates, Khoshroo intimated, the long-standing and unpopular sanctions against Cuba. The United States, he said, should "sincerely apologize" to the people of Cuba and Iran.

As the new US sanctions regime went into place against Iran, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Ankara, "US sanctions on Iran are wrong. For us, they are steps aimed at unbalancing the world. We don't want to live in an imperialist world."

Erdogan is not alone here. Even countries with close ties to the United States, such as India and Japan, are against the sanctions. They may not use words like "imperialist," but their actions clearly bristle at the heavy-handedness of the US government when it comes to its use of instruments such as financial sanctions.

It was clear that China was never going to honor the new US sanctions on Iran. Nor were Turkey and Iraq, and nor were the three large economies of Asia that rely on Iranian oil (India, Japan and South Korea). No wonder the United States gave these countries waivers to the sanctions.

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Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT His most recent book, The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World, won the Muzaffar (more...)

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