The balance of power against the US

The United States should realise that it cannot rely on force and military might alone to safeguard its national interests

It is not baffling at all that recently the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution against the USA’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. UNGA voted overwhelmingly 128-9 to repudiate the President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It has left the US isolated in international politics as the UN Security Council has also opposed the US decision of establishing embassy in Jerusalem, which is in blatant violation of international law. In the 1967 war against the coalition of Arab countries, Israel had illegally annexed Jerusalem from Jordan and later on resolutions were passed in the UN declaring Jerusalem a disputed territory whose status was to be decided through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

UNGA is a representative of all countries and the recent resolution which it has passed with majority can have repercussions. Firstly US can exert its influence on developing countries or under-developed countries by cutting their financial aid; but it must be appreciated that the majority countries took an audacious and principled stance, despite the threats faced by USA’s ambassador in UN.USA’s ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had already intimidated the world body by reminding that US was the single largest contributor to the United Nations and its agencies.

With this development the United States should realise that it cannot rely on force and military might to safeguard its national interests. In international politics, real-politick has always remained dominant. Powerful states protect their interests with the use of force and their position in geo-politics. This trend has been witnessed over the past two or three decades. However at present we are witnessing change. The balance of power is changing with the transformation of a uni-polar world to multi-polar. In the present scenario there are already indications that Russia, India and China are emerging as global powers.

After the end of the cold war, the US emerged as the only super-power with the collapse of Soviet Union but now other emerging economies like China, Russia, EU states and India, the balance of power has resulted in opposition to the USA’s decision of recognising Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Political experts are also of the view that there is a likelihood that another cold war will start as Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, has nostalgia for the old Soviet Union. Russia‘s attack on Georgia and Ukraine, Russia’s support for Bashar Al-Asad’s regime in Syria and its reservations regarding NATO’s expansion in eastern Europe including Poland manifest adequately that Putin has hegemonic ambitions and is not afraid of posing a serious challenge to US interests.

UNGA’s decision is a blow to US hegemony and moreover the first big decision of general assembly as previously we have witnessed that all major decisions had been taking place in Washington in the past and UN had become irrelevant after the Iraq war. The USA’s decision would have put Palestinians and its supporters in fear that the US move perhaps will encourage other countries to transfer their embassies from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, but the majority of countries made a much needed courageous decision which carries political resonance.

In hindsight we have witnessed that US exerted its influence to pass a resolution through UNGA in 1951 regarding the issue of the Korean peninsula. Subsequently this resolution paved the way for the US and its allies to launch an attack on North Korea. Similarly in 1947, after the end of World War-II, it was due to the clout of the US that a resolution was passed through United Nations general assembly regarding the partition of Palestine and recognition of Israel as an independent state. Previously it was the mandate accorded by the League of Nations which had authorised Britain to administrate the state of Palestine, after the end of the World War-I.

Russia’s support for Bashar Al-Asad’s regime in Syria and its reservations regarding NATO’s expansion in Europe including Poland clearly shows that Putin has hegemonic ambitions and is not afraid of posing a serious challenge to US interests

This UN resolution is a breakthrough and the entire comity of nations must now pay attention towards other issues where human rights violations are taking place, for instance the Rohingyas being massacred in Burma and the brutal repression of Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir by Indian occupying forces. With respect to the Kashmir issue, it is a lamentable fact that the US has been unable to change its stance and unequivocally supports India despite the sacrifices of the Pakistan armed forces and civilians in fighting the War on Terror. The challenge to organisation of Islamic countries (OIC), comprising of 57 countries, has started as they have yet to formalise a policy with cohesive approach on these major issues. The Islamic world are endowed with natural resources and it must heed attention to the fact that its resources are utilised to its own development, not in detrimental to its people interests. Muslim countries should unite together at this crucial juncture and form an organisation or a treaty similar to NATO which is a western alliance.

The OIC if it becomes effective then can also have leverage in international affairs and also be a major player in crucial decision-making in UN and other international institutions. Only in this way, the Islamic world will become a significant factor to influence the balance of power.

This UN resolution measure was drafted by Egypt and co-sponsored by Pakistan. It is also a notable fact that after Israel both Egypt and Pakistan are the biggest recipient of US aid. The relations between US and Pakistan were already tense before the UN vote. Pakistan being the only Islamic country as nuclear power can play an instrumental role in eliminating shia-sunni divide amongst the Islamic countries.

Pakistan in this regard can play a crucial role in bringing coherence amongst the Islamic countries provided firstly it attains self-reliance, economic and political stability which are pre-requisites to confront animosity from pro-Israel lobby. We should learn from the example of Japan which launched an attack on US Pearl Harbour in December 1941 and in retaliation US launched a devastating nuclear explosion attack on the twin cities of Japan: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan learnt a lesson and adopted a pacifist approach. Afterwards it catapulted itself, by making huge economic strides and became a force to reckon by becoming the second largest economy in the world.


The writer is a human rights and constitutional lawyer

Published in Daily Times, December 27th 2017.