Future of US Ties with Asian Allies Problematical: Ex-Diplomat
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An American author and former diplomat highlighted the Trump administration’s “arrogance in dictating policy” to Asian nations and said the latest regional developments bode ill for future of US relations with its Asian allies.
“The future of US relations with its Asian allies is problematical,” Michael Springmann, the former head of the American visa bureau in Saudi Arabia, said in an interview with Tasnim.
“First and foremost is the American arrogance in dictating policy in the region, especially towards China. America simply doesn't consider the interests of its supposed partners,”
J. Michael Springmann served in the US government as a diplomat with the State Department's Foreign Service, with postings in Germany, India, and Saudi Arabia. He left federal service and currently practices law in the Washington, DC, area. Springmann’s works and interviews have been published in numerous foreign policy publications, including Covert Action Quarterly, Unclassified, Global Outlook, the Public Record, OpEdNews, Global Research and Foreign Policy Journal. He has written Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked The World and a second book Goodbye, Europe? Hello, Chaos? Merkel’s Migrant Bomb. Both are available on Amazon. The books’ website is: www.michaelspringmann.com
The following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: Some analysts and media reports suggest that the recent G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, ended in failure as deep divisions between the US under Donald Trump and its closest allies became more evident. For example, the US-Europe dispute over Trump’s trade war with China was not bridged even a bit in the summit. Do not you think these disputes indicate that the US allies are distancing themselves from Trump and his shifting policies?
Springmann: At the conclusion of the Biarritz Summit, the best thing that can be said of the event is that few participants could agree on anything. However, some appeared to agree that Donald Trump was a problem. The Europeans and the Japanese did not directly confront Donald Trump but engaged more in diplomatic criticism. For example, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that stable relations between the US and China were "very important". This might be seen as a veiled rebuke of Trumpian cowboy antics regarding trade with the Peoples' Republic. Again, in a surprise move, the French government invited Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for talks in an effort to resolve the collapsing Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This obviously was an indirect slap at Trump's policy of maximum pressure on the Islamic Republic. Donald Trump, a proclaimed climate change skeptic, refused to participate in the G7's session on climate, biodiversity and oceans. This demonstrated his indifference to the rest of the world's priorities, obviously alienating other nations. Finally, President Trump urged the inclusion of Russia in the next G7 meeting. However, the Europeans insisted that Vladimir Putin's government wasn't welcome, supposedly, because "it doesn't comply with democratic principles."
Tasnim: It seems that even Asian allies of the US have also distanced themselves from the Trump administration. In the latest instance, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared in early August that his country would never allow the United States to deploy missile systems on its soil. Although there exists the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the United States, Duterte said that he would bar the entry of foreign weapons, including nuclear arsenal in the country since this is considered a violation of the Philippine Constitution. What is your take on that? How do you assess the future of US relations with its Asian allies?
Springmann: The future of US relations with its Asian allies is problematical. First and foremost is the American arrogance in dictating policy in the region, especially towards China. America simply doesn't consider the interests of its supposed partners.
For example, the Philippines' projected plan to review its Mutual Defense Treaty with the US has alarmed American policy makers. They are particularly discomfited by the possibility that the Philippines might withdraw from it. President Duterte has said “You cannot place nuclear arms in the Philippines. That will never happen because I will not allow it. I will never allow any foreign troops..." Duterte naturally finds more commonality with fellow Asian leaders than with Western ones. This includes Chinese, Japanese, Korean and fellow Southeast Asian states.
America, obsessed with China, ignores the needs and wants of other countries in the region, such as South Korea and those of Southeast Asia. Blustering about North Korea, the US ignores the consequences of its policies on the southern half of the country. Given Chinese interest in islets in the South China Sea, America fails to back the concerns of neighboring countries and their claims on that real estate. As a result of such attitudes and policies, American relations with its Asian allies will likely decline.
Tasnim: The Trump administration has walked away from various international agreements, ranging from the Iran nuclear deal to the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation. In early August, the US formally withdrew from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia which was signed by the former Soviet Union and the United States back in 1987. What is your assessment of Trump’s policy on international agreements? Are the US moves to renege on its international promises aimed at boosting its global hegemony, which has recently declined very fast?
Springmann: The Trump Administration's leaving important international treaties, such as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and other countries and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia, is aimed at buttressing its global hegemony. While these moves have been successful, they have not been without criticism and blowback.
Trump's penalties on Iran after leaving the JCPOA have come from Sigal P. Mandelker. Likely still an Israeli citizen, she is in charge of US sanctions at the Treasury Department. Her policies have antagonized Europeans and brought forth a good deal of censure. The Arms Control Association noted that leaving the INF "...goes against the wishes of allies in Europe and elsewhere who want to preserve the treaty..." Moreover, since the US has left the pact, it has miraculously come up with a weapon with qualities far beyond the INF's constraints. Given the lead time for such things, it is obvious that America had planned to abrogate the treaty well in advance.
These moves have demonstrated that the United States cannot be trusted in agreements great or small. America will cast them aside when and if it sees an advantage in doing so.