Politics is defined as the art of diplomatic engagement with others. This is a nice and good definition, but it is definitely not an accurate definition of American foreign policy. One could say that American policy does not recognise the other side respectfully. The other side that it respects is the side that supports it and orbits it or those who criticise its policies. However, those who refuse to submit to it are not respected and deserve punishment. The definition of politics in the current American administration in particular is the art of punishing the other and the art of subjugating the other to American will.
Here is an example or two, which is enough to demonstrate this. The American administration is not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and has not signed the Rome Statue in accordance with which the ICC was established. The US, which claims to respect the law decided to impose sanctions on the ICC, its employees and their families because they were exposed – during investigations – some of the US military’s criminal actions. The EU and its countries are considered the founders of the ICC and they announced their rejection of the American sanctions and stressed their support for the ICC. The mutual interests between the EU and the US have not prevented the US from imposing sanctions on an institution that came into existence based on European will.
In light of this triangle consisting of the ICC, American administration and the EU, one asks: What is the definition of politics in the White House? Do they define it as an art based on respect, or is it based on interest, unrelated to art? Is it sanctions imposed by the strong on the weak to force them to submit to their will and to serve their interests?
A second example is the successive US administrations have a system of providing financial aid to Jordan and other countries, including Israel, which receives the lion’s share of the annual foreign aid from the US. The White House administration is now threatening Jordan with stopping the aid it provides it because the kingdom decided not to extradite Ahlam Al-Tamimi, who was released as part of the Shalit prisoner exchange deal, in order to be prosecuted in the US on charges she was prosecuted for in Israel.
Jordan made the decision to refuse based on national, legal and moral motives. This refusal was met with the Trump administration threatening to impose financial and economic sanctions on Jordan. In doing so, the White House would have imposed America’s definition of foreign policy, i.e. if they do not give in to our will, then financial and economic sanctions will force them to. This is the definition of politics in the White House and specifically in the Trump administration.
This American concept of the art of foreign policy is applied by America in its dealings with the PA and with the Arab countries, as it imposes the ‘deal of the century’ and Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank whether the Arabs accept is or not. Those who refuse and do not submit can be convinced with sanctions and threats to their interests, to stop financial aid to them, and threaten the safety of their throne and rule. Their rule is based on the ideas “surrender to us and our will and if you do not, we will force you”. Imagine in the past we used to say that the US provided aid to countries for free.
This article first appeared in Arabic in the Palestinian Information Centre on 17 June 2020
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.