If there is a universal problem to be collectively dealt with, it is US hegemony. Manifesting itself in the form of “extreme unilateralism”, US hegemony certainly has caused more damage to the world than one can even imagine, ranging from toppling democratically elected governments to installing dictatorships and initiating wars killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Current US President Donald Trump reflected typical US “exceptional extremism” when he said he could end the Afghan war in 10 days and that Afghanistan could be “wiped off the face of the earth.” While a countless number of books can be written about how even the use of the most devastating weapons would not be enough to subdue the Afghans, there is little gainsaying that hegemonic and unilateral impulses remain very strong in the US even though this impulse has, as of lately, been failing US interests.
Even though its hegemonic status hasn’t helped the US in decisively winning its wars or facing any serious challenges, it remains a fact that the survival of this so-called hegemonic position depends on continued chaos around the world i.e., on conflict fomenting and unleashing more chaos and more wars. Since those wars tend to be waged away from home and especially in areas where Washington’s primary strategic rivals are located.
China’s Foreign Minister recently remarked that the “black hand” of the West is creating trouble in Hong Kong. Iran’s foreign minister also remarked in a statement at the NAM foreign ministerial meeting in Caracas, Venezuela that:
“A new wave of American extreme unilateral adventurism is the most important challenge that almost all of us are now facing in one way or another…..It is undermining the rule of law at the international level and threatens peace and stability in the whole world in different ways.”
The Iranians are right in saying so since they are the ones currently at the forefront of facing US hegemony, with this “exceptional, extremist unilateralism” seeking to ignite a new war in the Persian Gulf. The US would first try to do that by implicating Iran in attacks on oil tankers transiting the Strait of Hormuz. Now the US is trying to build more pressure by creating a conflict between the Britain and Iran.
For example, the recent seizure of an Iranian vessel by British authorities in the Strait of Gibraltar indicates how the British and the Gibraltar authorities were acting upon “intelligence” provided by the United States. Although they did not mention any specific country or specify the source of information, it is clear that neither the British nor Gibraltar authorities wanted to reveal this information.
A BBC report said that “the intelligence came from the United States.” Acting Spanish Foreign Minister Joseph Borrell commented on July 4 that the British seizure had followed “a demand from the United States to the UK.” On July 19, Reuters reported “diplomatic sources said the United States asked the UK to seize the vessel.”
A further investigation of the seizure has revealed while the Maritime Authority of Panama (AMP) had removed 59 Iranian-linked ships from its registry, ShareAmerica, in February, the captured Iranian ship, Grace 1, still had a Panama flag when it began its journey in May. The Iranian ship was delisted only after it had begun its journey, thus leaving it vulnerable to a potential seizure. That a seizure still happened even though the Iranian vessel was outside British Gibraltar Territorial Waters shows that the intention was always to capture the ship and trigger a crisis between Iran and the Britain and thus have the British support the US vis-à-vis Iran’s “threatening behaviour.”
Importantly enough, Panama’s National Security Council had also issued a statement against Tehran, claiming of the tanker in question, “may be participating in terrorism financing in supporting the destabilization activities of some regimes led by terrorist groups.”
While there is no substance behind those claims and no evidence has ever been provided to back these claims up, engaging in a meaningful discussion was not the purpose of this provocation, after all. The purpose was to create a situation where the Iranians could be pushed against the wall and forced to take retaliatory action. The Iranian seizure of a British ship tells the remaining part of the story.
By thus manufacturing a crisis, the US is setting up the UK, navigating its partner toward a shooting war with Iran, thus taking potential steps to create chaos and maintain its hegemony. If the US had not “advised” the British to seize the Iranian vessel, London would probably have never done it. Similarly, if the US had not “advised” Panama authorities to delist the Iranian vessel, this incident would have never taken place. The “black hand” of the US is at play in transforming the US-Iran stand off into a broader conflict with a large number of international players. Is it any wonder then, both Russia and China remain adamant in their attempts to establish a multipolar world?
Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.