The Incredible Importance of Allies
Donald Trump won the Presidency despite alienating and offending large sections of the US population and having the largest negatives of any person elected to the Presidency. His actions since becoming President have continued this pattern, but it has now expanded to almost every other nation of the globe, including the United Nations itself. Impulse control does not seem to be our President’s strong point, particularly in the middle of the night, but at some point even President Trump will need the support of those neighbors and fellow world leaders he so cavalierly offends.
He started by offending and threatening our trading partners and long-term allies and North American neighbors – Mexico and Canada, some of our largest trading partners -- with high tariffs and an end to NAFTA. He continued by offending our trading partners and allies around the Pacific Rim – Korea and Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile and others, the fastest growing region of the world’s economy -- by tearing up a well-balanced trade agreement. Then he picked an unnecessary and uncalled for fight with China, the world’s second largest economy, and then insulted Australia’s Prime Minister just by picking up his telephone. For good measure, he alienated with his rhetoric our long time allies in both NATO and the European Union (the world’s largest trading bloc), scared our partners and allies in the Baltics, the Balkans and Eastern Europe that he would not stand by them in disputes with an aggrandizing Russia. Then he decided to send a message through his recent travel ban to the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims that he considers them and the religion they hold sacred to be allied with terrorism even though many have been stalwart and key allies to the US in the fight against theocratic terrorism in their countries.
Who does he have left? Vladimir Putin, Bibi Netanyahu, and Theresa May make for an odd set of strategic bedfellows for our new President, let alone for each other. There appears to be neither rhyme nor reason to this madness, no grand doctrine, no strategic vision, just momentary petulant instincts and endless verbal fairy tales married to the bully pulpit of the President of the United States. To date, our new President has been more interested in threatening trade wars with his tweets and executive orders than in starting shooting wars. Yet trade wars, nationalistic self-absorption, bullying rhetoric, and ethnic scape-goating have not led the world into a better place in the past – think the Great Depression and World War Two. Small, early missteps like this can and might lead to unanticipated catastrophic outcomes.
Let’s hope for better, but start preparing for much worse. I don’t mean like Peter Thiel by appearing at the Republican convention, then becoming a citizen of New Zealand. But rather like those vigilant citizens (and immigration attorneys too) who went to the aid and support of their fellow human beings stranded and isolated in the nation’s airports. Thank you to them and to a courageous federal judge!
Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin
Dated: February 8, 2017