In its never-ending need to flex military muscle around the world, the United States, not content with creating chaos in the Middle East, has now decided to bait China. If ever a country was itching to start World War III, the U.S. seems to be that country.
Let us look at the current situation, and see not only the U.S.’s typical saber-rattling, but its astounding hypocrisy as well.
The ownership of the Nanshan Islands (also known as the Spratly Islands) in the South China Sea is unclear. China claims ownership, and has built an airstrip there, but the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim ownership. The U.S. does not support China’s claim. On May 10, the U.S. sent a destroyer to the South China Sea, going within the 12-mile limit of Nanshan, which is the internationally-recognized distance of which a nation’s rule extends beyond its own shores. This 12-mile limit is compliant with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
A Pentagon statement regarding the entry of this ship into the 12-mile limit said this: The “USS William P. Lawrence exercised the right of innocent passage while transiting inside 12 nautical miles of Fiery Cross Reef, a high-tide feature that is occupied by China, but also claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.” Further: “This operation challenged attempts by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam to restrict navigation rights around the features they claim … contrary to international law.”
There are two astounding claims in these statements:
“The “USS William P. Lawrence exercised the right of innocent passage.”
The ship in question is a guided missile destroyer. It is difficult for this writer to connect the phrase ‘innocent passage’ with such a vessel. This was not a cruise ship traveling from one leisure point to another, and innocently passing through the South China Sea as it did so. It was a battleship, sent there with the specific purpose of warning three of the four countries claiming ownership of the Islands.
“This operation challenged attempts by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam to restrict navigation rights around the features they claim … contrary to international law.”
Once again, we have the U.S. citing international law, as if it has any respect for it. Such law, for the U.S., is to be followed or invoked only when convenient. We will take just a moment to review some instances where international law wasn’t, or isn’t, quite so important to the U.S.
*The U.S. has a long history of supporting right-wing rebels against their leftist governments. In Nicaragua, Chile, Brazil and countless other countries in the past, to Syria and Afghanistan today, the U.S. is in violation of international law by supporting ‘proxy’ armies fighting their governments.
*The U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan violated international law.
*The unqualified, financial and military support of the Israeli occupation of Palestine is in violation of international law. Without U.S. backing, Israel would be unable to maintain the internationally-condemned blockade of the Gaza Strip (also defined as occupation by the United Nations), and the brutal occupation of the West Bank. Israel would be unable to bomb mosques, residential centers, hospitals and press vehicles with impunity, all violations of international law.
*Assassinations or attempted assassinations of various leaders and military personnel around the world violate international law. Yet the U.S. has done this countless times, including, but not limited to, Fidel Castro (Cuba); Salvador Allende (Chile); Muammar Qaddafi (Libya); Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier (Chile); Che Guevara (Bolivia); Ngo Dinh Diem (South Vietnam). This is just a small sampling of U.S. victims and attempted victims.
Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the U.S. cited Iraqi violations of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441. This, according to the U.S., was sufficient to cause a ‘coalition of nations’ (please note that 90% of the invading soldiers/terrorists were from the U.S.) to invade Iraq. Yet Israel is in violation of over 50 such resolutions, and the U.S. still funds it with $4 billion annually. Since World War II, Israel has received more foreign aid from the U.S. than all other nations combined. And Israel, again in violation of international law, only allows Gaza fishermen to fish within a 3-mile limit, and often shoots them within that range. So much for respect for international law.
Let us look at just one additional example of U.S. hypocrisy. The U.S. government condemned, and rightly so, the beheadings carried out by Daesh (aka ISIL, ISIS) in 2014. Saudi Arabia, with which the U.S. has full diplomatic relations, uses public beheading as a means of capital punishment, and executes dozens of people annually in that manner. In August of 2014, at least 22 people were executed in Saudi Arabia, with at least eight of them beheaded. And the following month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made an official state visit to Saudi Arabia. If Daesh ever establishes itself as a nation on oil-rich lands, perhaps the U.S. will establish full diplomatic relations with it, and overlook any continued beheading. The other option the U.S. has is to invade it. As has been asked before, what business does any country have being situated about oil that the U.S. covets?
This is the nation that lectures other countries on democracy. The nation that, by its own laws, is forbidden from sending foreign aid to countries that violate human rights, sends billions to one of the world’s worst violators: Israel. The nation that forces its odd brand of democracy wherever it is financially advantageous to do so, is serving up presidential candidates bought and paid for by the wealthiest citizens.
Nowhere outside of its own borders is the U.S. perceived as anything but a rogue, imperial nation, jeopardizing the very existence of the world with its military might and nuclear weaponry. Its soldiers are seen as terrorists, whose power and ability to harm far exceeds anything Daesh, Al-Qaeda or any other identified so-called terrorist group is capable of.
Eight years ago, the nation naively looked for ‘hope and change’, following the disastrous Bush years. This year, there is no such catchy phrase, or novel candidate, as President Barack Obama was then. The coming presidential election will bring more war abroad and suffering both at home and around the world. Hope and change, never part of the equation in U.S. politics or governance, are not even an illusion this time around.
Originally published by Counterpunch.