Apres Moi l’Deluge

Apres Moi l’Deluge


Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Donald Trump is endangering America’s place in the world at an astounding pace.  The United States’ role on the world stage is eroding so fast that if he were to serve for two terms it is likely that the United States indeed would be isolated and ignored by most of the world; both friends and foes.  It is even likely that many of the growing number of autocrats and authoritarian rulers who have been befriended by Trump will be ready to dismiss the U.S. as a major world player. China will lead the economic world, NATO will be non-existent, and the “greatness” of America will be only in Trump’s mind.

It is in that context that one needs to comprehend Trump’s behavior in Paris last week where he acted like a petulant child. His dismissive attitude towards Americans and other World War veterans as well as the assembled world leaders was a disgrace. The President only compounded the insult to America’s war heroes with his decision not to go Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day; one of the simplest and most uncontroversial annual tasks performed by a President. Trump could not demonstrate a scintilla of grace to take a few minutes car ride to Virginia. As these actions continue—and they could well occur again in Argentina at the G-20 meeting at the end of the month–it is America which is losing its role of global leader.

The Western Alliance has been strong and continues to grow at least since the end of World War II. Trump’s ignorance of the fundamentals of history at least of the 20th and 21st Century is staggering; but what is worse he does even seem to care.  In economics, in global activity, in military confrontation the U.S. rarely has acted alone. It has worked with allies and sought to created modus operandi with adversaries. The World War II, Korean or Viet-Nam Wars were all multilateral initiatives, as was Desert Storm. Potential nuclear confrontations and efforts at disarmament were addressed with the U.S. going it alone.

Similarly, Bush and Obama addressed the 21st Century recession and economic crisis by invoking global participation. This is why Trump rejects the institutions of the G-7 as well as that of the G-20.  He is not interested in having multi-lateral global trade arrangements or insuring the safety of the environment with a multi-lateral approach. All Presidents did not have the same approach or ideas, but the strategy was the same; never alone and never dictating.

There will be a time when Trump will no longer be president. The Veterans Day events in Europe symbolized how far America has drifted as Trump has led this country into a truly isolationist direction.  America’s friends will stop humoring Trump and playing up to his ego.

A time could come soon when America will be divorced from the worlds’ powers except for those who do not share America’s historical, liberal democratic values. Those nations which possess ideals which are inimical to the West will join Trump in triumph as America’s friends dissolve.

This problem will become acute when the American people recognize the reality of what Trump has wrought.  Will it be a future society in which America can thrive? Can America endure with the presidency in the hands of such an irresponsible individual?  When will Americans realize that they have placed the future of the nation in the hands of a President who views the office as only about him and does not care about history or the future of the nation?

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