Shakeel Ahmad Ramay
Cowboy diplomacy originated from USA and has prominent place in American global engagements. It has adopted an instrument to pursue and secure its interest at any cost or by any mean. The term was first coined by American press in 1902 to describe the diplomacy of Theodore Roosevelt Jr. President of USA.He introduced the phares of “speak soft and carry a big stick”. He applied it to tackle the diplomatic issues of his time. He was criticized by independent minds and peace-loving persons. Howbeit, the successive administrations happily adopted it and make it prominent part of their strategies. They refined the phares according to their needs and preferences.
President Reagan redefined the terminology and said, “talk tough and carry a big stick”. The declaration of USSR as Evil Empire was first sign of his talk tough policy and adaptation of cowboy diplomacy. USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan provided him opportunity to apply it. The success of Afghanistan and fall of USSR strengthened the hands of proponents of cowboy diplomacy.
President Bush took it new heights by using the phares of “you are with us, or against us”. It means there is no talk, only carry the stick. It was a sheer sentence of arrogance, which led the disturbance of global order. It resulted in the economic crises and ultimately withdrawal of USA from Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, USA did not learn from the mistakes and failure of cowboy diplomacy.Rather they are trying to find new avenues of implementation of cowboy diplomacy and China is new victim. They are not sparing any area of international relation and working really hard to implement the cowboy diplomacy against China. They even did not spare the human life-threatening virus of COVID-19. Although, COVID-19 requires cooperation but USA is moving in other direction.
Since the outbreak of virus USA has launched a comprehensive campaign to malign China. It is happening at the highest level of government of USA. First, President Trump and Mike Pompeo were steering the campaign. Now President Biden and his administration have taken over the job. President Trump and Pompeo started to call it China virus and also engaged some countries to support USA. The campaign even continued during the most sever attack of COVID-19 on USA. Trump administration spent more time in criticizing China than putting efforts to control the COVID-19 in country. USA achieved nothing except the devastating results in the form of infection and deaths in USA due to COVID-19.
It was expected that Mr. Biden will change the practices of Mr. Trump and bring some sense in American policies to fight COVID-19. It did not happen. It seems it was just change of hands; the policy is same. Rather it seems Biden Administration has accelerated efforts to blame China.They mobilized resources to create the confusion and undermine efforts to counter the COVID-19.Although, Biden administration is reversing many policy initiatives of Trump administration, but China is constant factor of both administrations. Rather new administration is showing more enthusiasm to spread fake news on COVID-19 to blame China. President Biden is portraying himself as the champion of anti-China rhetoric and campaign.
President has found new battle ground in the form origin tracing of COVID-19.USA has adopted all tools of smear campaign to pinpoint China. President Biden has ordered the intelligence community to come up with evidence of origin of COVID-19 by focusing China. So, administration wants evidence from intelligence community not from the science community. It clearly indicates that the USA has some other motives, instead of finding the truth. There is consensus among the many experts that the whole campaign is to contain the China and COVID-19 is only smoke screen.
It is open secret that prior to COVID-19, USA launched many initiatives to contain China including QUAD, Pivot of Asia, etc. USA also launched trade war, banned Chinese companies and restricted American companies to work with China in modern technology. President Trump even said that USA will not allow any country to surpass USA in modern technologies by referring the progress of China in technology. It is part of USA policy that USA will not tolerate any peer competitor and will do anything and everything to eliminate the peer competitor.It is perfect example of cowboy diplomacy in contemporary world.
COVID-19 is new instrument of cowboy diplomacy. Despite repeated warnings of possible disastrous results, USA is sticking to its policy. World Health Organization (WHO) in 2021 concluded that it is extremely unlikely that the virus comes out of laboratory. It was in response to propaganda that virus leaked from the Wuhan laboratory. Further, WHO report highlighted that the safety mechanisms and record of Wuhan lab is very comprehensive,and execution of safety measures are also very strict. There is no evidence of leak of virus of from laboratory. Ideally speaking the debate on the subject should stop with this conclusion.
Unfortunately, it did not happen rather USA accelerated the campaign against China.Now USA is compelling the international community to accept the USA version and blame China. USA is again asking WHO to study the Wuhan laboratory. However, USA does not like the idea to inspect and study the USA laboratories. It is quite astonishing, a country which is asking for a comprehensive study of origin does not allow the inspection of its laboratories. China has asked many times to USA to open the Fort Detrick Laboratory for inspection and probe, but USA is not listening to this. China also offered if USA open Fort Detrick laboratory then China will also open Wuhan Institute of Virology. It is fair proposition, but USA is not giving any head to this proposal.
Therefore, many scientists and experts believe that the demand of USA is politically motivated. It does not have any substance. The purpose is only to malign China. This is another example of cowboy diplomacy. It is more dangerous option, as it directly relates to human life.
Despite all this negativity and smear campaign China is cooperating with the world to combat the challenge of pandemic. China has already provided more than 900 million doses of vaccine to world, especially to developing and poor countries. China is also aiming to provide 2 billion doses this year. China has also provided billions of masks to world. China is also providing oxygen generators, cylinders, protective suits etc. to world. President Xi at global health summit of WHO, in May 2021, also promised to provide US$ 3 billion to help countries to counter the health and economic impacts of COVID-19.
However, it is pertinent to mention here that no single country can handle this pandemic alone. There is need of cooperation. Thus, it is suggested that USA should come out of this mind set of witch hunting and working to strengthen the cooperation. There is no second opinion that USA is the most advanced country and has the technology to assist world in fight against COVID-19. USA can deploy these resources to help the poor and developing countries. It will be a win-win scenario. As, on one hand it will help to eliminate COVID-19 and on other hand it will improve the image of USA as global power.
In conclusion, cowboy diplomacy will not work against China, as China is powerful country. China also does not have fault lines; which USA can exploit. Thus, there is need to come out of this mind set of cowboy diplomacy.