News analysis: Why being a friend of U.S. is 'fatal'?

U.S. President Joe Biden has pledged an "unprecedented" package of aid to support its "ironclad" ally in Middle East – Israel, which is entangled in a fresh round of conflict with its old foe Palestine. Besides, the White House also vowed to back Ukraine "as long as it takes" in its fight against Russia.

The funding for Israel and Ukraine that the U.S. government has asked for, amounted to almost $106 billion. Will this be a credible commitment or just another empty promise?

"It may be dangerous to be America's enemy, but to be America's friend is fatal," former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once remarked. And the U.S. has proven him right. Time and again, the U.S. has showed that it is not a reliable ally in global affairs.

Sitting across the pond, making huge profits

Economist Pierre de Gaulle, grandson of former French President Charles de Gaulle, told the French newspaper Le Parisien that the U.S. provoked a conflict in Ukraine to "turn Europe into a vassal" and has managed to use the Ukraine crisis to "destabilize Europe."

In terms of energy, security, economy, refugees, etc., Europe is paying a heavy price in the crisis while the U.S. is enjoying the most benefits and still fanning the flames to prolong and expand the Ukraine crisis. 

"This is while the United States, sitting across the pond, watching on and observing, is making huge profits," Modern Diplomacy magazine commented on its website when describing the Ukraine crisis.

For instance, American energy companies are making a fortune during the crisis, as The Wall Street Journal bluntly stated, "A big winner from the energy crisis in Europe: the U.S. economy."

The EU imported around 94.73 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2022, compared to 57.27 million tonnes in 2021. The U.S. represented 41 percent of the supply in all of 2022 and remained to be the EU's top LNG supplier, surpassing Russia for the first time, according to a report by the research firm Kpler. In the first half of this year, the EU remained the primary buyer of U.S. LNG, which constitutes more than half of the EU LNG import market.

Unfortunately, the price to move away from Russian energy is not cheap for the European side. The natural gas price frenzy in Europe shows no signs of easing. For instance, in France last year, energy prices alone increased by 23.1 percent yearly, followed by 6.8 percent for food and 3 percent for manufactured goods and services.

Europe's interests have never been America's concern. In 2021, the U.S. hastily withdrew from Kabul, Afghanistan, leaving its European allies stunned and unprepared. The U.S. also forged the AUKUS with the UK and Australia, blatantly breaking the Australia-France submarine deal.

A U.S. flag is lowered as American and Afghan soldiers attend a handover ceremony from the U.S. Army to the Afghan National Army in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, May 2, 2021. /CFP
A U.S. flag is lowered as American and Afghan soldiers attend a handover ceremony from the U.S. Army to the Afghan National Army in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, May 2, 2021. /CFP

A U.S. flag is lowered as American and Afghan soldiers attend a handover ceremony from the U.S. Army to the Afghan National Army in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, May 2, 2021. /CFP

Coercive diplomacy 

The U.S. applied coercive diplomacy with East Asian allies with no mercy.

In 1986, in response to the rise of Japan's semiconductor industry, the U.S. forced Japan to sign the "U.S.-Japan Semiconductor Agreement," initiated a "Section 301 Investigation" against Japan, and imposed trade sanctions on a variety of Japanese products such as semiconductors and computers, which undermined the competitiveness and potential of Japan's semiconductor industry, seeing its market share fall from 50 percent of the global market to about 10 percent in 2019.

In recent years, the U.S. has been wielding the tariff stick against Japan because of its dissatisfaction with Japan's longstanding trade surplus with the U.S. In March 2018, the U.S. imposed tariffs of up to 25 percent and 10 percent on imported steel and aluminum products under the Trade Expansion Act, temporarily "exempting" the Five Eyes countries, including the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, but charging Japan the same.

The U.S.' ally South Korea is chewing on the same thing. The U.S. passed the Inflation Reduction Act last year, eliminating federal tax credits for electric vehicles made outside North America, meaning companies including South Korea's Hyundai and its affiliate Kia Corp will no longer be eligible for such subsidies.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol hoped talks with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden would resolve Seoul's concerns over the Act during his visit to New York in September 2022. However, Yoon was only granted a 48-second spontaneous chat with Biden.

Since 1991, South Korea has shared the upkeep cost for U.S. soldiers, including costs for South Korean civilians hired by the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), construction of military installations and logistics support. 

Under the 10th Special Measures Agreement (SMA), South Korea paid 1.04 trillion won (about $890 million) for the stationing of U.S. troops. When the 10th SMA was about to expire at the end of 2019, the U.S. reportedly threatened to pull troops if South Korean didn't pay $5 billion to the U.S. for a new deal.

No wonder former European Council President Donald Tusk once commented on the U.S.' move, "with friends like that, who needs enemies?"

(Cover: A girl holding a placard during a protest against U.S. visa delays faced by hundreds of Afghan refugees in Islamabad, Pakistan, February 26, 2023. /CFP)

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