The U.S. brings state piracy into the 21st Century

Contributed by Joe Montero

The United sates has just conducted an act of piracy , by intercepting 5 Iranian tankers in the middle of the ocean and seized the cargoes.

It was an open violation of international law. Issuing seizure of goods warrants in the United States, as was the case here, does not cover it. International law forbids piracy, and United States law does not have international jurisdiction. History has proved that too often, the might is right rule has prevailed.

Washington holds that it is free to act as it chooses, and insists that its own laws apply globally. Take the Julian Assange case as an example.

Washington does not permit others the same right.

This is not new. Four and a half hundred year ago, as a few nations began to colonise the world, they began to write the rules and resorted to piracy. Britain went the furthest.

the kind of ship used to colonise the world during Elizabethan times

Elizabeth 1 licensed individuals like John Hawkyns, Martin Frobisher, Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh, to capture and plunder enemy ships, as long as they shared a portion of the booty with the crown.

Washington has not gone as far as to subcontract its own plunder on the high seas. Not yet anyway. The essence of what it is doing is the same.

As the preeminent maritime power, the United States gives itself the sole right. In the Elizabethan era it was about who is going to colonise the “new world.” Today, its about a dominant power’s ambition to impose governments of its own choosing on other nations. The parallel between is obvious.

The attack on the Iranian ships follows a series of United States linked bombings, fires, cyber attacks, and other acts of sabotage on Iranian soil.

Elizabethan England acted the same way against the Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Dutch.

In the present case, The ships were were heading to Venezuela. The South American nation faces crippling sanctions and similar acts of sabotage, including on its capacity to refine oil. Considering that 54 countries are currently sanctioned, puts the extent of the potential impact into perspective.

Photo from AP: One of the intercepted tankers – Fortune

This is part of a global strategy to remain the preeminent power, coloured by unpopular Donald Trump’s need to pull a hat trick pout of the box, as he faces a presidential election.

Acts of piracy cause others to retaliate, and the situation can easily spiral out of control.

Iran is now under pressure to respond, and there is a valid claim for theft. The United States will stick to its policy that international law does not apply to itself. Why should others not do the same?

This is the twenty first century, and the world takes less kindly to piratical acts. There wasn’t exactly a rush of support from other nations in this instance. Even the compliant Australian government has kept quiet on it.

The truth is that there is serious concern. This could build into a global will to put a stop to it. Let us all hope so.

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