Abandoning Consensus & Revising The World Order: The Effects Of Donald Trump Presidency
The horrid repercussions of using nuclear weapons are well known in history and the latter has been interpreted by various nations differently. For victor states, it was a moment to cherish as they won the long lasting bloody war but the one which suffered the most was Japan due to bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki- 6th June and 9th June, 1945, respectively. This particular incident was a preliminary count to proliferation of nuclear weapons that allured several countries in quenching the insecurity propelled by the anarchic world order. The state of nature as proclaimed by Hobbes was nasty, brutish and short. It was the kind of existence that poured blood all over and none was able to secure peace. Peace was only achieved by paving way for social contract theory. While Hobbes provided the sovereign with absolute powers, Locke brought forward the value of accountability.
The omnipotence of accountability was made redundant by the idea of balance of power both at the regional and sub-regional categories. Sordid ambivalence of the anarchic world in which USA was the only nuclear power state pushed USSR to acquire nuclear weapons by 1949, UK by 1952, France by 1960 and China by 1964. Having acquired nuclear weapons, these 5 major powers brought many of its allies under the nuclear umbrella, guaranteeing their security. Cold war divided the world into two camps and hence USA, UK, FRANCE and USSR-CHINA helped the western and eastern hemispheres respectively. The entailment of peace was gaining ground and therefore the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed in 1968.
Major agreement on co-operation among nuclear weapon states, to stop further proliferation of nuclear weapons and disarmament was sought and the signatory states had to comply with the regulations of this treaty. India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea (post 2002) were not signatory to the treaty and hence continued their quest to acquire nuclear weapons. This treaty had a biased character as it demanded only horizontal non-proliferation while allowing the already equipped NWS to keep their weapons. The dichotomy of horizontal and vertical non-proliferation was conspicuous. Between the age of bi-polar and unipolar world, there were various treaties signed that provided a degree of relief to nations. Post-cold war, United States held the position of the only super-power and hence consummated a world order defined by its self-interest.
As Russia was not powerful enough to challenge the dominance of USA, many of the treaties were written on the latter’s terms and were to be implemented keeping the hegemon in mind. Due to the sudden rise of non-state actors, terrorism gained momentum and brought forward a desolate picture with it. Having aroused from US policy in Afghanistan during the Soviet Invasion in 1979, the attacks of 9/11 on its soil made US follow a policy of War on Terror a.k.a The Bush Doctrine. The situation was about to change, asphalting the way for interventionist policies, eroding their sovereignty and forcefully implementing democracy in nations that were until then habituated to totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. This crisis effusively paved way for Arab Spring that tore apart the middle-east region and parts of northern Africa. This brought forward Iran and Saudi-Arabia’s rivalry into the picture.
The conflict between these two nations can be explained keeping the importance of oil at the centre. Post 2014, nations like Iraq, Syria et cetera came under the influence of ISIS that deteriorated its existence and made trade with them impossible. Saudi Arabia, being a Sunni dominated state had always been at loggerheads with Iran that is Shia sect dominant. The former has US as its ally and the latter has preposterous relations with it. History has been witness to the kind of regime change that US supported in Iran bringing the west-tilting Shah to power. Though Iran did see decades of prosperity in every field, dissatisfaction soon spread among the orthodox sect with the pursuance of western values by Shah of Iran. Soon the 1979 bloodless coup happened and Ayatollah Khomeini came to power. This was a huge setback to US as the Ayatollah regime was not in compliance with western culture and value system. This rivalry had geopolitical effect with Iran supporting rebels in many countries of middle-east and Saudi along with US forces supporting the other faction.
Chanakya’s saptanga theory is very pertinent to this situation as the conflict with Iran brought Saudi and Israel closer, an alliance which no-one ever imagined to be forged. Recuperating the blemish was a herculean task and JCPOA signed in 2015 was a step forward in reducing the austerity of such conflict. The Obama administration being surrounded with many proxy wars in the middle east region needed peace with Iran in order to get out of these heavily priced conflicts and also to cap the nuclear ambitions of Iran that posed threat to US allies. The hot proxy wars destabilised the entire region and created influx of refugees having long term effects on Europe. While the negotiations begun in 2002 with the Paris Peace Accord, it did not have the support of USA initially. It stood on ground due to the support of Germany, France, U.K. and later China, Russia.
For a period of 4 years, peace prevailed among all the partners and with the participation of U.S.A, Iran was assured of sanctions removal. The prolonged period of peace soon received a major setback in 2006, when the moderate regime was replaced by hardliners who alleged the former of selling Iran’s soul to the west. The Paris Peace Accord was dismantled and major visits by high profile authorities could not build consensus between all the partners. Ahmadinijad’s kick-start to Iran’s nuclear ambitions made many regional nations insecure and they threatened to go to war with Iran. Undergoing such huge turmoil that could have easily escalated into a bloody war, Washington advanced a new deal that had the capacity to avert the crisis.
The Obama Administration proposed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2013 and together with P5+1, negotiations began. JCPOA recommended several clauses that had to be followed by Iran- it had to reduce its uranium enrichment by 96%, International Atomic Energy Agency had to be allowed into areas that they were suspicious about, 1000 nuclear warheads had to be kept under the watch of this agency et cetera. In exchange of such harsh measures, economic sanctions were to be lifted providing relief to the Iranian regime that was mired by domestic instability. This treaty was ratified on 12th July 2015 and Iran started to move away from isolation. Soon secondary sanctions were also lifted, allowing it to trade with other relations freely. However, sanctions related to human rights violations and biological-chemical weapons usage was still kept intact. The axis of evil in which Iran found place in Bush Doctrine earlier was completely ignored by Obama Administration. This was considered to be the most successful treaty signed under his regime but the dynamic world scenario had something else hidden in its fold.
The rise of Donald Trump as President of United States of America caught many analysts off-guard. Populism stands tall on promises that are hard to fulfil yet provide respite to people in the short-run. His ‘America First’ policy led to many drastic transformations for the struggling unipolar world. Since Washington is moving away from multi-lateral agreements and Trump trying to undermine important deals made under the Obama administration, a decision like moving out from JCPOA was prophesized before. A build-up of many reasons has surrounded such decision making. Iran’s involvement in Syria’s proxy war, supporting the Palestinian cause, providing financial aid to Hezbollah and Hamas had irritated its adversaries in the region since long.
U.S having cordial relations with Saudi Arabia and Israel was bound to put pressure on Iran in order to circumvent its disturbing actions and therefore appeasing its partners. Iran had committed its own share of faults when it didn’t stop the usage of ballistic missiles as prohibited by the treaty and assisted Assad in Syria in his human rights violations initiatives. When seen from the larger geopolitics perspective, Iran in its quest of gaining the position of regional hegemon against Saudi Arabia, had proliferated power politics and hence tried to maintain the sanctity of balance of power to a certain extent. Perhaps, this had a significant cost that extinguished all the imperatives gained through JCPOA.
The moderate regime of Hassan Rouhani could not convince U.S.A to stay in the deal as the damage had already been done due to the acts of erstwhile government. The rise of China threatening dominance of America also shaped the course of Iran nuclear deal. Hostage to inhibitions, the Iranian Regime has always tried to secure itself, perhaps, such security dilemma is existent in the mind of every nation. Trump on the other hand is exerting severe pressure on Iran to limit its capacity for developing nuclear weapons. Donald Trump’s statement against Iran was not a sign of good omen. He threatened that the ramifications of Iran not following the regulations of JCPOA will begin another round of sanctions that will cripple Iran’s already tensed economy.
Effusive war of words led to increasing tribulation of proxy war in Syria. And in July, 2018, the dreadful event happened. United States of America moved out of the deal unilaterally against the decision of other partners. Such desolate the condition was that French President Emmanuel Macron publicly criticised this move by Trump Presidency. Israel and Saudi Arabia were propitiating influence on USA. There were serious consequences of this move and the heat was felt by every region in the global world. For Iran, the return of both primary and secondary sanctions is devastating because it might infuriate the domestic uprising against the government.
The unemployment rate has increased considerably post 2015, even when strong sanctions were removed. Ironical as it is, due to excessive corruption, the benefits that came out of it has only stayed in the upper echelons of power and hence has created distrust among the people against the Rouhani regime. It has incensed more developments in the entire Middle East region of which outside states are taking advantage of. Iran is a major oil exporter to many nations. China and India import oil from Iran in huge quantities providing benefit to both themselves and Iran. The dollar denominated world will grotesque Iran’s capability of transporting oil to other nations. US have explicitly asked states to seek for alternatives to Iranian oil and have particularly ordered its strategic allies to cut down oil imports to a minimal percentage. Beijing being the biggest competitor to Washington and also the largest importer of oil from Tehran has issued non-compliance statements and will not be following US orders.
Trying to assert its dominance against the American dominated global order, China has brought out policies that will hedge Iran from every possible adverse effect. Yet, the damage is already done. India is the 2nd largest importer of oil from Iran but is also a key partner to United States. For Delhi, the partnership with US is much more important than it having good relations with Iran and therefore it might reduce its oil trade with the latter and may find other alternatives that could quench its needs. Although it is too early to proclaim anything, there are heavy losses pertaining to Iran. In this dismal atmosphere, the pressure exerted on it by Washington cannot be tackled alone by Tehran. US has asked Saudi regime to pep up the production of oil in order to keep the oil prices low and fulfil the need of oil among other nations. This is not easy to achieve as Saudi has already crossed it’s maximum threshold of production.
US shale oil trade is not much in demand as it is much more expensive than crude oil. The price of crude oil is at all-time high, creating trouble for other developing nations. Syria and Iraq being already in tatters cannot fulfil the excessive need of oil by other nations and Yemen is also in the grip of civil war. In effect to the present crisis, the P3+1 consisting of Germany, France and United Kingdom along with European Union are trying hard for the survival of JCPOA. Without USA’s participation and in a dollar denominated economic setup, alternatives like barter system or trade using euro is gaining ground. The divide between US and Europe has sharpened unlike the earlier heydays of goodwill and consensus. Emmanuel Macron together with Angela Merkel is seeking to develop euro dominated investment that will cripple the effect of sanctions on all the disavowing parties. But this is a distant dream to achieve. The primary and secondary sanction will not have much impact on small and medium enterprises but will have travail effects for big businesses.
French company, TOTAL having submitted to the sanctions will soon stop investment in Iran that will give a heavy blow to the latter’s dream of creating an alternative to oil trade through the production of LPG. For Europe, the complicit involvement in this deal is very important as it’d interdict the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Russia-China-Iran foreign ministers having met are finding ways in which Iran could stay in the deal and receive benefits. The fallout of US from the deal has made the role of China very strong as Europe cannot move forward without the help of the latter and hence, China will be able to dominate other proceedings too. US have since long alleged Iran of supporting terrorism in the region. Such terrorism imperilled Saudi-Arabia’s security as both of them are competitors in the region trying to assert their supremacy. Trump is mounting heavy pressure to weaken the regime in order to constrain Iran’s missile programme.
Many have speculated that such actions are means to a certain end and the end is regime change in Iran. In the middle-east region, Israel also plays a major role and also has nuclear weapons that might threaten the existence of Saudis. Since both Israel and Saudi-Arabia are key allies to US, the latter always brokers a deal to supress the rising discontent. The Houthi rebels in Yemen supported by Iran are winning the war against the government backed by US and Assad’s Syria backed by Russia-Turkey-Iran coalition has caused enormous blowback to Trump presidency. The sanction on Iran is a preliminary round to other developments that have banal predilections to it. Instead to recuperating the atmosphere full of discontent, it might push Iran towards its goal of acquiring nuclear weapons effusively. With a weak economy mired by corruption, Iran will further appease China falling into the latter’s debt trap policy in search of affluence.
Chinese foreign minister’s recent visit to Tehran is symbolical to such development. This meeting paved way for Chinese Yuan denominated trade between both the nations and hence defying the existent dollar currency worldwide. Iran is aware that Europe solely cannot take it out of the crisis and therefore is reaching out to Moscow with alluring trade deals. The fallout of US from JCPOA has created inroads for China and Moscow to enter and this will be detrimental to peace in Middle-East. A failed state like Venezuela with oil in abundance cannot be an alternative to Iran due to falling value of its currency (Bolivar) and high cost of extraction of oil with domestic turmoil. US has also applied severe sanctions on Venezuela making it get closer to China and demanding support from it. China with its booming economy will have no problem in helping President Nicholas Maduro as it will give it an upper-hand in the competition with US. This will be precarious for the Trump regime as an axis of all these states headed by China will easily create an alternative to US dominated world order.
A dissatisfied Europe along with a rising China and growing Russia is the last thing that Trump presidency will wish for. The region of Latin-America is facing humungous crisis as the currency of Argentina and Brazil has fallen by 60% and 30% respectively against the dollar. In establishing the dominance of United States, Trump’s unilateral decisions are creating livid adversaries for itself. The region of South-Asia is also suffering the backlash such US actions. Although India is drastically reducing its oil import from Iran, the major project of Chabahar Port need the latter’s support. This port has a strategic importance to both US and India but the sanctions on Iran will allow it to carry forward the development proposal to other nations. The recent Pakistan’s diplomatic outreach to Tehran is an example of it. China is also ready to sail in the boat. With both China and Pakistan helping Iran in the development of Chabahar Port, it’d create more problems for India as its policy of forging trade relations with Central Asia will be in danger.
The 2+2 meeting between foreign and defence ministers of US and India on 6th September, 2018, was expected to discuss the strategic problem. Expectations did not live up to the reality as both the nations did not solve the issue of the development of Chabahar Port nor was India able to find a leeway to elude the on-going sanctions. This has created immense sordidness between the relations of Iran and India. Pakistan and China will gain from an unbalanced Indian foreign policy and hence will provide respite to Iran in its South Asian Policy. The rising oil-prices and a falling Indian Rupee by 13% is surging domestic turmoil in India and reduction in oil imports from Iran is increasing such issues more. The trust deficit in US of nations like North Korea and Iran evolved due to its actions in Iraq and Libya.
Iran has already threatened that if sanctions are pushed and regime change is brought forward, it will close down that Strait of Hormuz through which 60% of oil trade happens. This will significantly lead to an all-out war that will increase the influx of refugees to Europe and Asia is heavily despised by these nations. While it is too early to speak on this issue, the sole winner of US actions is Beijing. With a booming economy and growing influence all around the world, it will not let go off this opportunity. Together with Russia and Europe, China will try to save the deal as it doesn’t want Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and in course of it, will provide significant financial help to Iran. In pursuing dominance over the entire hemisphere, China will benefit deeply once the sanctions are effective from 5th November, 2018 and hence, Iran will have no choice but to demand China’s help. With Africa already in its grip and Asia slowly falling in the trap, the region of middle-east like a domino will soon find China trampling its feet. Thus, the Neo-Realist, John Mersheimer’s idea of “China’s rise not being peaceful” will find soon emerge.
- Larison Daneil, The American Conservative, ‘Trump pushes his destructive Iran policy at the U.N.’Magnier.J.Elijah, Ejmagnier Journal, ‘Iran looks on as Israeli arrogance forces Putin’s hand.’
- Burchill Scott, Linklater Andrew, ‘Theories of International Relations.’ (2006)Gabuev Alexander, The Foreign Affairs, ‘Why Russia and China are strengthening Security Ties?’Mersheimer.J.John, ‘The idea of Structural Realism.’
- Copeland, D. C. (2000), The Origins of Major War (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press).
- Schmidt, B. C. (1988), The Political Discourse of Anarchy (Albany NY: State University ofNew York Press).
- Merry.W.Robert, The American Conservative, ‘The perils of Liberal hegemony.’Sridharan, ‘International Relations Theory and South Asia.’Tuthail.O.Gearoid, ‘Rethinking Geopolitics.’
Cite this Essay
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below