I’ve never been a fan of irony. The just comeuppance has always seemed too obvious to be truly dramatic. And, that which can be irritating in the literature, becomes positively dangerous in the real world. A counterpart to President Trump’s constant racist campaigning and his continued endorsement of the “very fine people” in his klanazi (very) base has been the jingoistic notion of “America First,” an echo of the isolationist nazi supporters about 80 years ago. The upshot of this rhetoric has been the loss of U.S. standing in the world community. Secretary of State (as of Sunday night) Rex Tillerson makes a statement; the president undercuts him. Other countries can no longer trust us. A huckster developer who has tried to make a buck all over the world has now decided that it is in our country’s best interest not to work with anybody else on matters of global concern.
As of Dec. 1, there were 35 U.S. vacant ambassadorships in countries throughout the world and another 10 unfilled spots for organizations working toward goals of global understanding, which should be the first plank in any trading relationship. Fourteen more nominees are awaiting confirmation. Granted, some of the countries lacking ambassadors are no great pals or dangerously unstable – Venezuela, Somalia, Syria for instance. But, no ambassadorial representation in Australia? Well, that prime minister was not impressed by the president’s ramblings during their first conversation. No ambassador in South Korea? Trump’s goading of the “little rocket man” to the north has put South Korea’s prosperity and populous in peril. Where is their high-level assurance of our support?
There are currently eight openings in Latin America, including Argentina, Belize and Jamaica and seven in Europe – Sweden, Ireland, Iceland, Austria, Belgium, Belarus and Hungary – plus ambassador-level postings for the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation for Europe, which we helped found in 1961. Of course, this latter group works toward arms control, human rights, press freedom and fair elections. None of these issues have been sighted anywhere on the president’s agenda. Worse, Trump decides to move our Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. You’d think it might be time for some high-level meetings between foreign leaders and our ambassadors. But, we have no ambassadors in Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates. What we have is an egomaniac with a twitter account – and a well-traveled son-in-law who might be scouting out a non-extradition country for re-location.
What we will have are millions and millions more Muslims who will not trust us – with good reason.
Similarly – John Birchers unite in praise – we’re not going to be represented at seven United Nations organizations and are pulling out of UNESCO a year from now. UNESCO is a dangerous organization, advocating for education and cultural exchanges. Forget that American UNESCO cultural representatives provided hope to imprisoned millions and served to lay the ideological groundwork for the collapse of the Iron Curtain. If we are forced to learn about foreigners and realize they are humans, they won’t be as easy to hate.
Two weeks ago, Trump killed America’s participation in the Global Compact on Migration, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley saying its “global approach” was “not compatible with U.S. sovereignty.” But, the U.N. will go on trying to protect refugees without our help – as will the global efforts to offset climate change, the latter with the participation of some U.S. states and cities.
That’s the problem with retreating from the global stage. By abandoning the field, we force others to take control. They might find that they can get by just fine without us – and with the help of once-American corporations which have globalized themselves into de facto statehood.
A headline in last week’s on-line Greek Reporter stated: “U.S. study: Greece is China’s strategic beachhead into Europe.” Theo Ioannou, opens his account: “The scope of China’s challenge to the American-led order is described in two unpublished and unclassified studies commissioned by the U.S. Air Force, in which Greece is presented as China’s Trojan Horse into Europe. “It is no secret that Washington, as well as the EU, have been quite nervous about the scope of present and future Chinese investments in Greece. “China has invested $13.6 billion in Greece, buying control of the port of Piraeus and big shares of Greek utilities and fiber-optics companies.”
One of the reports cites a “One Belt, One Road plan for Eurasian trade and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to finance Chinese led-projects. “The report estimates that the OBOR framework would provide up to $1 trillion in Chinese support for more than 64 countries…. “The authors describe OBOR as ‘a program of unprecedented size and scope with the strategic intent of constructing a Chinese-led regional order in Eurasia.”
Yes, the world will continue on its way regardless of our non- participation, while our scared isolationists ignore the world created over the past 70 years by American leadership. Organized, prepared, focused countries will step into the void of our absence and leave us behind. “America First” will knock us out of first place. I hate irony.
(Gary Edmondson is Stephens County Democratic Party Chair.)