The deputy assistant under secretary general of the United Nations has given the United States a one-year warning. If the country doesn’t clean up its act and become a responsible world citizen, Ithell Colhoquon announced yesterday, the international community will impose sanctions on U.S. government officials and tariffs on U.S. goods and services.
This announcement comes shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump told Mexico that it had one year to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the United States or face the shutdown of the southern border.
When asked what precipitated the international community’s sudden threat to sanction the United States, Colhoquon said, “The ICC decision. That was a line in the sand. That really demonstrated beyond a doubt that the United States is a rogue nation.”
Colhoquon was referring to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s denunciation of the International Criminal Court for “attacking America’s rule of law.” The Trump administration has followed up by revoking a visa for an ICC prosecutor looking into possible U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan. The administration has also threatened to arrest and prosecute ICC officials.
“If we could kick the United States out of the ICC, we would do so,” said ICC Third Vice President Elena Ferrante. “But it has always considered itself above the law — and above the ICC.”
Mexico and Canada have applauded the UN decision. Both countries have vowed to close their borders with the United States if the international community’s demands are not met.
Mexico has a wide range of complaints concerning U.S. policy, including the treatment of Mexican nationals, the dumping of U.S. products, and the unregulated trade in U.S. firearms. It has also complained about the enormous market for drugs in the United States, which has transformed Mexican narcotrafficking into an international force.
“Also, we don’t like college students coming down here on spring break,” Mexican Vice President Roberto Bolano recently said. “Every spring we have to deal with a caravan of loud, lazy, good-for-nothing gang members, and we’re tired of it!”
Canada has gone further by declaring the United States a failed state. Canadian President Marie-Claire Blais points to the murder rate in major cities, the opioid epidemic, the crumbling infrastructure, the endemic corruption, the huge gulf between rich and poor, and the authoritarian leadership.
“Sure, we all like our iPhones and Starbucks coffee,” Blais says, “but we can’t let this kind of social chaos spread like bird flu into our country.”
Although the Trump administration has not made any official comments on these recent developments, the U.S. president has been busy on Twitter.
“Everyone at UN is ugly and fat,” he tweeted. “Everyone in Mexico is ugly and stupid. Everyone in Canada smells bad and talks funny. Sad!”
Several countries have rallied behind the United States: Saudi Arabia, Russia, Hungary, North Korea, South Ossetia, the Canary Islands.
“Of course we have to speak up on behalf of the American president,” said Russian Vice Prime Minister Alexander Fadeyev. “You know the famous poem, yes? First they come for the human rights violators. And we say nothing. Then they come for the war criminals. And we say nothing. Then they come for the autocrats. And we still say nothing. So, when they come for us, who will be left to protest?”
When pressed about the actions the United States needs to take in order to return to the good graces of the international community, the UN’s Ithell Colhoquon was very specific. “The removal of Donald Trump is a necessary but not sufficient condition. Mike Pence is just as bad if not worse. So, we recommend that, after a series of public trials, Americans sentence all top-ranking officials of the Trump administration to a decade of community service picking up trash along America’s highways. Oh, and they should be forced to wear pink jumpsuits. Balls and chains would also be a nice touch.”
Response from the American public has been mixed.
“We’re not going to let a bunch of furriners tell us what to do in our own country,” said MAGA Stewart, the president of the Hands Off Trump coalition. As part of their commitment to the president, the members of the coalition have all changed their first names to Make America Great Again, or MAGA for short.
“Sovereignty is a cornerstone of American democracy,” opined Charles Coughlin, a constitutional law professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. “We can tell other countries what to do, but it’s not a two-way street. In American jurisprudence, we call this the ‘one-way-street principle,’ though it’s also known more colloquially as hypocrisy.”
Support for the UN move, however, could be seen from satellite photographs. In fields and public parks across the United States on Tuesday at noon, Americans lay down to form letters with their bodies to spell out: “Thank you, UN!”
It’s unclear what will happen next in this standoff between the United States and the international community. Several countries have already withdrawn recognition of the Trump government and recognized Nancy Pelosi instead as the legitimate leader of the country. New Zealand has declared that, in the unlikely event that Donald Trump sets foot in the country, he will be immediately charged with crimes against intelligence.
But in perhaps the most significant sign that the international threats are having an effect, Twitter announced that it will suspend President Trump’s account. “Look, I just took the car keys away from my 99-year-old father,” one unnamed Twitter executive said. “Sometimes you just have to do the right thing to make the world a safer place.”
World Beat, Foreign Policy In Focus, April 10, 2019