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What it does, however, is take US exceptionalism to a new level. It ignores the interests of the cosignatories to the agreement, including Russia and China and close allies in the EU, all of which continue to believe that the agreement represents a viable way of curbing Iran’s nuclear intent.

Speaking about this in Brussels, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker observed that the decision suggests that the United States is turning its back on multilateral relations, "no longer wants to cooperate with other parts of the world" and is doing so "with a ferocity that can only surprise us".

In moving against Iran, the US administration has made clear that its policy will be applied in ways that will not only cause US companies to cease doing business there, but through the enforcement of secondary sanctions, it will try to halt almost all third-country trade with Tehran.

Although the full details have yet to emerge, new US regulations will mean, for example, that EU companies – from Airbus to Total SA – engaged in any Iran-related commercial activity will potentially be subject to prosecution in the US courts as will any bank facilitating related trade or investment decisions.

Discussions in Lima at the time of the Summit of the Americas and comments made subsequently by US Vice President Mike Pence about the need for Latin American and Caribbean nations to do "more, much more" to impose sanctions on Venezuela, suggest that this is now the administration’s direction of travel.

If that happens, the economic and social consequences for the Caribbean could be severe, particularly if, as some in Washington suggest, the US decides to place an embargo on Venezuelan oil exports, which account for 95 per cent of the country’s foreign-currency earnings.

In its report A Venezuelan Refugee Crisis, it noted: "The United States should consider not only the potential damage and disruption caused to Venezuela’s neighbours by a refugee crisis, but also the implications of the crisis for US interests. The economic, national security, and health costs imposed on the United States by a potential disruption in Venezuelan oil production, an increase in drug trafficking, or an epidemic, respectively, would be substantial. The United States can do little to prevent Venezuela’s further downward spiral. However, it can and should take measures to mitigate the political, economic, and humanitarian consequences of a potential mass emigration."

This is not to defend what is now happening in Venezuela. Although Caracas blames external forces, the private sector, and the divided opposition, this long ago ceased to be a plausible excuse for the continuing mismanagement of Venezuela’s potentially vast oil wealth; the mistaken policies that have led to hyperinflation; the decisions that have resulted in hunger, corruption, and violence; or the poverty and disease that now afflict parts of the country.

Notwithstanding, President Maduro makes clear that his position is ideological and that his government will not negotiate away its revolutionary principles with any nation. Rather, once re-elected, he "will call for a great national dialogue for peace", but how he intends reviving the country’s collapsing economy or rapidly restoring stability remains a mystery.

What this suggests is that short of supporting a military-led coup, the US will continue to pressure the Caribbean to engage in transactional politics over new sanctions, on Venezuela or suffer the consequences of whatever it decides its post-May 20 response will be.

Despite Washington’s sometimes unwarranted past actions, it has always seemed reasonable to believe that US multilateralism would continue and that its broadly liberal values, willingness to listen and debate would lead those at the highest levels in Washington to find and deliver rational and consensus-based solutions. It is what bestowed great power status and more recently enabled it to share peace globally through balance and proportionality.

The US decision on Iran marks a watershed in international relations. It will require even relatively powerless nations in divided regions like the Caribbean to determine how best to respond to the increasingly divergent positions of the US, China, the EU27, the United Kingdom, and Russia as well as to the region’s hemispheric neighbours.