Are the United States really dealing with a “national emergency”?

by Giulietto Chiesa

‘I determine that serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.’

These words are at the core of an ‘Executive Order’ solemnly issued by the President of the United States some days ago, on the 21st of December 2017.

According to the law of the United States of America, the ‘Executive Orders’ are among the most important directives issued by the country. Its importance relies on the fact that it is personally signed by the US Commander in Chief. In this specific case, the directive is issued on the basis of an act called IEEPA (International Emergency Economic Powers Act). Therefore, we should not underestimate its relevance and – as we will see – it deserves to be examined by all the governments worldwide.

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As a matter of fact, according to this act ‘All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:

(i) the persons listed in the Annex to this order (ii) any foreign person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General:

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(A) to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse (…) corruption (…) bribery’.

In relation with this, the President Donald Trump proclaims: ‘The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including adopting rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to me by IEEPA and the Act as may be necessary to implement this order’

By saying ‘all powers’, he is including also the power to ‘suspend the entry of aliens into the United States’ in order to put an end to the ‘threat’.

It is clear that, by this formal act, the President and the America that he represents take the juridical control of the whole world. As a matter of fact, this act should be applied in principle, for instance, to Vladimir Putin, as well as Xi Jinping, the Italian Premier Gentiloni, and the French President Macron. And the list could be longer.


It is enough that some of them, according to the judgment of the American Secretary of State, have violated the “human rights” or have been blamed as “complicit” in these violations.

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What do they mean by “human rights” is not explained in this Presidential Act, but we can assume that they mean the rights considered as such in the United States. The Secretary of State will determine the scale of their charges and the consequences of them. The United States, with this act, take on a sort of global jurisdiction. 

It is important to note that, in this context, the role of the United Nations completely disappears, as well as the role of any other international authority. If we were not living at the end of 2017, we might think that we are living at the age of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Yet, even this comparison is not possible, as even Charlemagne had to deal with the opposite authority of the Roman Pope. There were conflicts of interests between them, followed by mediations. In the case here, there is no interlocutor.

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Another element/detail that has an interest of a legal nature is delivered by the direct connection that is anticipated between the crime (violation of human rights and corruption) and the punishment. The latter consists of a freeze of the assets (this is not explicitly said, but it is presumed) that the persons incriminated possess all over the world. Furthermore, as the United States controls all global finance, no “tax haven” can slip away. Besides, according to the act, the individuals incriminated are banned from entering the United States.

We still have to understand why Donald Trump is persuaded that the violation of human rights and corruption all ‘around the world’ are considered an extraordinary and unprecedented threat for the security of the United States, its foreign policy and its economy. We suppose that the United States, in the nationalist version ‘America First’ promoted by their current president, is telling a playing defence, that is they are creating a sort of legal façade for an operation of future blackmail, maybe in style, against some of their ‘subjects’ – or considered as such – who aim at some sort of rebellion or even just at a moderate dissent.

* Giulietto Chiesa is one of the best known Italian journalists. He was Moscow correspondent for twenty years for “L’Unità” and “La Stampa”. He worked with all major Italian television channels, from the TG1 to TG3 and TG5 and is currently political analyst for major Russian television channels. He is the only Italian journalist to be repeatedly mentioned in the autobiography of Mikhail Gorbachev, whom he has repeatedly interviewed. He writes a blog for “Il Fatto Quotidiano”. His own blog is . He is founder and director of web tv. An expert in international politics and communications scholar, he founded the political-cultural movement “Alternativa”. Among his credits there are some best-sellers such as “Endless War”, “Superclan” (with Marcello Villari), “Barack Obush” (with Pino Cabras) and the movie “Zero, an inquiry into 9/11”. He is one of the initiators of Sofia Club and of the Delphi Inititative. His new book, “Putinophobia” is to come out simultaneously in France, where the author was invited as a guest at the Paris Book Fair, and in Russia.