US acts as world’s cop making others comply with its national laws

An anti-doping bill was introduced to Congress on June 12 to make the use or distributing drugs during international sports events a punishable crime. The act offers fines of up to $250,000 for individuals and prison sentences of up to 10 years for those who make, distribute or use banned substances at sports events including four or more US athletes and other athletes from three or more countries.

Whistleblowers that expose doping schemes will also be protected under the act. When the legislation goes into effect, any wrongdoer will be able to say he’s unfairly persecuted in his own country for exposing doping-related activities to get American protection from justice at home. And athletes from different countries will have to prove their innocence in US, not national or international, courts. Inevitably, there’ll be problems with proof making US prosecutors politicized and enjoy extended authority to get the evidence they could go upon.

So, foreign athletes will be subject to American law outside US borders. Other countries, such as Germany, France, Kenya, and Spain, have anti-doping laws but their jurisdiction is limited to national territories. “There should not be an opportunity for states to engage in misconduct,” said Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX) in his remarks during the bill’s introduction. The act actually says that US laws prevail everywhere in the world and everybody must comply. The cited justification is the unproportionally big American contribution ($2.3 million) to the World Anti-Doping Agency. Whoever pays the piper calls the tune.

As usual, Russia is the scapegoat. The bill is named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the Russian lab director known for spreading fake stories about alleged cheating at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The legislation had been introduced just two days before the World Cup kicked off in Russia. American lawmakers seriously think the US has the right to be an arbiter and hand down verdicts saying who is a good athlete and who violated the rules to take the titles away and hand down punishments instead. In this case, why shouldn’t Washington have the right to name winners and losers? And what do we need international sports governing bodies for?

The bill is just a link in the chain, a part of foreign policy, which presupposes the right of the US to extend its jurisdiction to other countries. The sanctions just imposed on Russian Sovfracht company for supplying aviation fuel to Syria are an example. The same applies to US attempts to make Europeans abandon the Nord Stream-2 gas project in favor of more expensive American liquefied gas supplies.

On June 15, President Trump made a statement to announce the decision to slap a 25 percent tariff on up to $50 billion in Chinese goods. Washington will initially impose a set of tariffs on 818 items worth about $34 billion on July 6. Then, separate measures may follow to affect 284 products worth about $16 billion following a review.

The move was taken against the backdrop of America being embroiled in an escalating trade conflict with the EU, Canada and Mexico. The EU and Canada will enact retaliatory tariffs starting in July. Mexico has already hit back. The divisions between America and other NATO members are also getting wider. NAFTA is about to blow up. Add to it Russia’s counter sanctions against the US that President Putin signed into law on June 4. Who knows, maybe the US president has a method in his madness, as British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson had said before the G7 summit. You never know but it’s getting really hot.

Taken together, the above mentioned events show that the US is making the world more and more divided and plunged into conflicts and disputes. The US administration does not shy away from running a risk; it ups the ante in an effort to reach what it sees as “good deals.” It brings to mind the Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk that has become so popular among foreign policy experts and made Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky Nobel Prize winners in 2002.

This is a challenge to the existing world order. Normally, actors facing a common threat unite, even if there are the differences that may divide them. Those who are engaged in wars do their best to avoid fighting on two fronts. The last thing the EU and other victims of US attacks need at present is the sanctions war with Russia. The idea to end it has already been floated. Before the scandalous G7 event in Canada, Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said he believes the EU should respond to the US trade tariffs and lift its sanctions against Russia. Just a few days ago, the new government of Italy opened a rift with European partners calling for lifting the sanctions on Moscow.

In his first major speech on June 13, Germany’s new Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said “America First” should be countered with “Europe United.” One of the ways to do it is shifting away from unanimous decision-making on foreign policy issues toward majority vote. He believes the move will counter the attempts to split the EU. With the UK gone, the US influence in the bloc is to dwindle and the majority-based decision making process will facilitate the easing and finally lifting the anti-Russia sanctions, as well as taking steps to protect Europe from American trade offensive and political pressure.

If Europe wants to remain Europe and not become the 51st US state, it should revise its foreign policy priorities and prepare for a big fight. It needs allies who reject the US hegemony. It makes Moscow a fellow traveler.

This article originally appeared in Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal.

Peter Korzun is an expert on wars and conflicts.

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