Death of a superpower: How the US is isolating itself

The sad truth about the US global mission has been laid bare by naked facts that are broadcast every day on the international networks. The advent of social media has also enhanced the role of citizen journalism and the rapid spread of news. Picture: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

The sad truth about the US global mission has been laid bare by naked facts that are broadcast every day on the international networks. The advent of social media has also enhanced the role of citizen journalism and the rapid spread of news. Picture: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

Published Feb 25, 2024


ONE of the greatest geopolitical stories of the 21st century should no doubt be about the death by suicide of the once mighty superpower known as the US.

In the full glare of a united international community that subscribes to the founding Charter of the UN, based on multilateralism, the US continues to swim against the tide.

The unfolding “plausible” genocide that Israel is committing against the Palestinians across the Gaza Strip is a case in point.

There are indeed too many examples of geopolitical miscalculations committed by the US, but Washington’s unwavering material, financial and military support for Tel Aviv in spite of the rapidly rising death toll in Gaza is inexplicable.

Truth be told, you don’t need to be a supporter of Palestine to note the heinous way in which Israel is killing the Palestinians.

From a simple humanitarian standpoint, the brutal killing of nearly 30 000 innocent civilians, including an estimated 15 000 children and more than 10 000 women, should make even the heartless among the international community pause and think again.

The death toll does not include the multitudes that are still trapped under the rubble of bombed residential buildings. The sight of desperate survivors digging under the rubble and sifting through debris is a tearjerker that evokes pangs of emotion.

But seemingly no amount of international discourse against Israel’s brutish military extinction of the Palestinians is enough to persuade US President Joe Biden and Co to see what the rest of the world sees and feels, which is “enough is enough”.

Or, let me paraphrase: How many more Palestinians should be killed, starved, displaced, imprisoned without charge or trial before Washington can prevail on Israel to stop the daily massacre?

We are not even delving into the illegal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land since the 1948 and 1967 Nakba and the whole-scale imposition of apartheid that has subjugated the stateless Palestinians since.

The annexation of the Palestinian land by the Israeli settlers protected by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), the destruction of the indigenous homes of the natives of the land and the state-sponsored mushrooming of the illegal settlements on land that belongs to the Palestinians are additional examples of the transgression of international law by the Israeli Knesset and its powerful backers.

Currently, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is holding week-long hearings at The Hague on the legal implications of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and the oppression of the occupied peoples.

More than 50 countries including South Africa – currently the nemesis of Israel after taking it to the ICJ on charges of genocide – are making heart-wrenching submissions, one after the other.

Global rights groups are also scheduled to detail their own experiences and observations of the adverse impact that the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel is having on the helpless population of some five million people.

Thus far, the world has watched as one country after the other, led by South Africa, lambasted the oppression of Palestinians and called for the UN court to order an immediate withdrawal of the IDF from Palestine.

Other nations that sang from the same hymn book as SA included Jordan, Russia, China, Iran, Brazil and Jordan. They made an impassioned plea to the jurists sitting at The Hague to make an advisory ruling as per the request of the UN General Assembly for legal guidance on the matter.

Thus far, the US has been the odd one out, arguing in favour of apartheid Israel and pleading with the international court not to order an immediate withdrawal of Israel from Palestine.

Now, it is acts such as these that I believe undermine the moral authority of the US and its standing as the leader of nations and a barometer for human rights.

The US has served as the world’s only remaining superpower since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union at the turn of the 1990s.

It is a position that has seen the US cement its place among the international community of nations as a leader of the pack whose word was widely respected for the wise counsel and credibility it carried.

But nowadays the US has let that moral authority slip. In fact, I can go back as far as the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 when the US administration of then President George W Bush lied to the world, claiming that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein possessed “weapons of mass destruction”.

Within a short space of time the US cobbled together what it referred to as a Coalition of the Willing, backed notably by the UK under Labour prime minister Tony Blair.

When no such weapons of mass destruction could be found after a ferocious, lightning-speed bombardment of Iraq that was praised as “shock and awe”, both Bush and Blair showed no remorse and instead claimed credit for killing Hussein, their geopolitical adversary.

To this day, neither Bush nor Blair has shouldered responsibility for the false claim under which they illegally invaded a sovereign state. But, more tellingly, neither of them has faced any reprisal from international law.

The US foreign policy has often been described as cantankerous. Unnecessarily so, it is premised on brute force, intimidation and coercion, characteristics that have given rise to the US-led unipolar world order.

Truthfully, the bully tactics that mark the US foreign policy have resulted in many nations being afraid of Washington instead of being amenable to the global conduct of the world’s most developed economy.

I want to argue that this phenomenon has not served the US well, and history will surely back my standpoint. Medicine in the hands of the foolish can turn to poison, just as poison in the hands of the wise can turn to medicine. Go figure.

The emergence of Hamas in the Palestinian body politik and the Middle East is a direct consequence of an unwavering streak of oppression that has surged despite efforts at a negotiated settlement by the disenfranchised Palestinian Liberation Authority (PLO).

A generation of Hamas membership at the tail-end of the 1970s was a cry for a change in political tactics and strategy following the glaring failure of Hamas’s predecessor, the PLO.

For the record, I am not endorsing the violent campaigns of Hamas – far from it – in the same way that I condemn the state-sponsored violence of Israel against the Palestinians.

No matter how much the US arm Israel to the teeth, violence and superior military threats offer no permanent solution to a political conundrum. In the view of the majority of the world, the two-state solution is the only sensible route to a peaceful co-existence of the Israelites and Palestinians.

The sad truth about the US global mission has been laid bare by naked facts that are broadcast every day on the international networks. The advent of social media has also enhanced the role of citizen journalism and the rapid spread of news.

It is almost impossible to miss the mass bombing of hospitals and the detention of medical staff on the spurious suspicion that they are Hamas members, supporters or sympathisers.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) itself has not been spared the Israeli fury, losing at least 156 staff members since October 7. The US has also led a campaign to stop funding UNRWA after Israel claimed a dozen of its more than 30 000 employees were Hamas operatives, a claim yet to be corroborated.

As the death toll rockets and hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children are orphaned, mothers widowed and innocent men jailed simply on the basis of their gender, the entire global community, bar the US, is calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Since October 7, the US has truly nailed its colours to the mast, vetoing no less than four UN Security Council resolutions that called for an immediate ceasefire.

I want to argue that two unintended consequences of the US belligerence are now at play. The first is that the US has placed itself in the unenviable position of an international pariah state.

Secondly, which methinks is more regrettable, is that by its abominable actions the US has cast aspersion on the relevance of the UN system as well as the entire global governance system.

Already, at the G20 Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s President Lula da Silva correctly questioned the veto power allocated only to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely the US, Russia, France, China and the UK.

Additionally, by its actions the US has inadvertently exposed the inherent double standards at the core of the country’s foreign policy.

A good example of this is the ongoing war in Ukraine. Washington led the EU, Nato and Western allies into an international arrangement outside of the UN system that sought to isolate Russia through a barrage of unprecedented economic sanctions.

The same pro-Ukrainian, Russophobic group also laid charges against President Vladimir Putin of Russia at the International Criminal Court (ICC), claiming that he had abducted Ukrainian children.

Putin denied the charge, saying he had relocated the children to safety after continuous shelling by the Ukrainian forces in and around the Donbass region where the children were located.

Within a jiffy, and with no tangible proof on the table, the ICC issued a warrant for the arrest of the Russian president, and it remains in force.

Conversely, the same cannot be said about the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Despite bucket-loads of blood on his hands, he is protected by the US both diplomatically and military-wise.

Lastly, the Western-dominated and run sporting organisations such as Fifa and Uefa were quick to expel the Russian football teams from international and European competitions. This included athletics and tennis.

Yet the same sanction has not been imposed on Israel for the illegal occupation and apartheid control of Palestine, plus the unfolding genocide as recognised in the January order of the ICJ against Israel.

In a peculiar development, the Israeli national football federation has also been accepted as a member in the European league. It is the only team of the entire Middle East to be awarded such a status.

Sadly, all these shenanigans are happening on the watch of the US – a once-trusted leader of the international community whose authority and power is now waning and withering with the setting sun that marks geopolitical changes of great significance in our lifetime.

The Emperor is stark naked, and the Empire is crumbling.