I spent ten of the most enjoyable years of my life in the Tampa Bay area. At that time I drove a lot and the car radio was one of my companions (along with audio books). I’m not the biggest fan of sports radio but the late Chris Thomas had a show on WDAE that I seldom missed. One of his favorite sayings was, “One or the other, but not both.” Sometimes he used a more elaborate derivation of it, “One or the other, but certainly not both.” It really didn’t matter because the basic message is the same. With that in mind, let’s explore.
President Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan was, “Make America great again”. (He stole that, with slight modification, from another disastrous Republican president from whom America is yet to recover – Ronald Reagan – but that is another story for another time.) The implication is that America was no longer great and that he would restore it to a position of global leadership. (Fortunate for Trump his base heard the dog whistle message as make America white again.)
Here is the basic dilemma: both Trump and his core supporters are isolationists and you can’t simultaneously be an isolationist and a global leader. I can see the appeal of isolationism but the stark reality is that increasingly (and the velocity is increasing) post World War I we live on a global and interdependent planet. Isolation is like a vacation; romantic but not practical.
Trump started out with the promise of making everything alright for Bubba again as soon as he built his wall on the southern border to keep “those people” out. For the most part the wall hasn’t been built and the parts that have are already bearing the scars where they have been cut through. (Who knows how many times they have been gone over or under?)
Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord which, far from a panacea, was the first step in a global assault on climate change that was by joined almost every nation in the world.
Trump also pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Deal. The net result to date is to put many of our allies in an unconfutable position (I’m being kind in my choice or words) and bring Iran closer to a nuclear weapon.
Just last week Trump pulled out of the World Health Organization in the midst of a global pandemic. There are a lot of “definitions” of insanity but this has to qualify as another.
Trump has a chip on his shoulder because (with good reason) he was never accepted into the “A” circle of New York City society. That has carried over into his international actions as POTUS. His positions are that of an outlier. His actions are that of a bully, (i.e. literally pushing another head of state out of his way so that he could get to a more prominent position for a group picture). He has a habit of showing up what I’m sure he considers fashionably late for meetings and then leaving early in a huff after the group disagrees with his outlier positions.
The G-7 is a great example. It is America’s turn to host the 2020 version. If you will go back in your memory you will remember that originally Trump announced he would be hosting it at his Miami area golf resort. It now appears the venue will be Camp David. The outcry was so loud that he had to back off on that plan. After German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced she would not attend the June meeting (in person at least) and other members refused to commit to attend Trump suddenly decided to hold the meeting in the fall – probably the week before the United Nation’s General Assembly the week of September 15th – but did not rule out meeting after the November election.
Still Trump has to be the rabble rouser. He intends to invite Australia, India, Russia and South Korea to sit in which is his privilege as the host nation. The G-7 is a group of large economic democracies. Russia is certainly not a democracy. India is currently led by a racist. All four are members of the larger G-20 so it is not like their voices are never heard; they just don’t belong in this “club”. However, Trump seems to report to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and fits with India’s Narendra Modi’s anti-Muslim stances. My guess the other two were included for cover (on more than one front).
Mr. Trump you had the opportunity to be one or the other, but certainly not both and it appears you have made your choice. It was not a good one for America or the world; let’s just hope we can outlast and survive you.
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