Let’s make America lesser again … or the return to 1914. No one could think that a few months after a new President took his place in the White House America would lose its prominent role in the World. Today we can affirm that because of the decisions by President Trump, America has resigned the role he it has had since after the end of the Second World War.
We are not talking about power. Right now it is the most important economy in the world, as it has been since 1871, its army is still very powerful, more than any one in the world (even if has been changing in the last decades) We are talking about some softer but more powerful value: leadership. A leadership that is lost because of resignation and distrust.
In a few months, President Trump allowed America to lose his its leadership in Free Trade, in Defence and in Environment. All together it is a total loss of importance in the world. I can suggest that this is the return to the position before the First World War.
America doesn’t want to lead the new generation of Free Trade Agreements in the world. Right now the decision by President Trump to abandon the TPP is more than the withdrawal from a free trade agreement. By doing so, Mr. Trump reversed a free-trade strategy adopted by presidents of both parties dating from the cold war. By doing so, President Trump allowed China to improve the RCEP, the free trade brokered by China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia among others. By doing it’s clear that he doesn’t understand how economic relations in a global world rule and the bad consequences to USA. I believe it isn’t time for the kind of agreements based on supremacy. Just what Mr. Trump wants.
The “America First” agenda in free trade forgets what Mr. Xi said in Davos this January against protectionism and thereof we can see that the new American tendencies a big gift: there is a vacuum that China seems eager to fill.
America doesn’t want to lead NATO. In the last meeting of NATO, Mr. Trump didn’t say the one thing about NATO he was supposed to say: his endorsement to article 5 — the keystone principle that an attack on one member is an attack against all —. That symbolic lack of compromise by President Trump provoked this response by Chancellor Merkel: “We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands — naturally in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain, as good neighbors with whoever, also with Russia and other countries,” (…) “But we have to know that we Europeans must fight for our own future and destiny,” she said.
America doesn’t want to lead the fight against global warming and climate change. It’s possible that it is not clear if Trump believes that climate change is a hoax. But we can remember that he said in 2012 that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”.
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) november 6 2012
When President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord he told the world that America is not involved in the most critical issue for the humanity. It was a victory for Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, and Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator.
But by doing so, America let China and Europe to lead this process and to obtain a huge leadership position because of its importance. Right now Trump has only the support of Putin and it’s in the same position as Nicaragua and North Korea, the only countries that didn’t signed the Agreement.
The speech by Mr. Trump had a very impressive sentence: “At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?” Mr. Trump said. “We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore. And they won’t be.” It reflects that he doesn’t understand the importance of cooperation in the global world and it’s a sign of some kind of complex on foreign affairs and the role of America in the world.
Its reflexion opens a new scenario where China and Europe seem to be very close: Merkel said “the cooperation of the European Union with China in this area will play a crucial role, especially in regards to new technologies.”
That’s clear: Trump gives an important gift in leadership in diplomacy and economics to China and Europe… and other countries that can assume the leadership in diplomacy.
The new position of America is strange It’s clear that some kind of decline of its position appeared some decades ago. But the withdrawal of a country of its role is usually the consequence of a very big crisis. It isn’t the case right now. It’s only a voluntary decision taken by the President helped by his alt-right staff to abdicate.
When was the last time that America didn’t have a leadership role in the world? We can discuss if it was before First World War -the first global conflict where America participated- or after the second one, whose role in the reconstruction of Europe was very important.
The question is who will fill the hole that America is has opened in global leadership?
It is very clear that China can assume that dominant role in the global economy. Mr Xi said in Davos. We have to remember the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the new multilateral financial institution brokered by China because America didn’t want to assume its duties in the IMF.
What would the consequences for the world be? Is it a positive thing for the world that the country that is buying Africa, destroying fisheries and breaking international law in free trade and human rights will be the global leader in the next decades?
If it’s not China, the eyes land on Europe. But what about Europe, without a real foreign policy; consumed by Brexit, with a lot the problems with values, institutions and economy and in the minimum of popular endorsement in the polls? Is Europe able to assume a prominent role for the next decades? Only by accident.