In less than two years America’s place in the world has changed dramatically. Instead of being the leader of the free world, the United States has become a power unto itself. The position which President Trump has adopted for America once dominated U.S. foreign policy after World War I; the America First movement of the 1920’s and 30’s. Trump is behaving like an isolationist period, but at the same time he has no clear real ideology. While it may be better that Trump is a pragmatist not an ideologue, there is little comprehension of what the President truly believes or desires. It appears that for President Trump, American foreign policy is and ought to be all about the leader and less and less about the nation.
Trump’s speech at the United Nations on Tuesday reflected just that philosophy and the representatives of 192 other members of the international community laughed at America’s president. (Afterwards, Trump was sufficiently arrogant that he even boasted that he wanted them to laugh.) The problem is that it is not a laughing matter when America’s president is being ridiculed by the international forum of nations and he then makes light of it.
Today’s world is totally inter-connected. Major global countries must work with each other in economic affairs, environmental changes, social-health needs, as well as solving global political problems. Trump may believe that he can go it alone, but that is not the way of the modern world. The notion that the U.S. does not need allies is a function of Trump’s imagination. Should America ever face a crisis, it needs to have reliable friends. Dismissing the global community as he did before the U.N. is not only naive but foolhardy. It is a policy which will fail.
There was a further insult which Trump exhibited at the U.N. By speaking more to his domestic political base, Trump genuinely appeared to ignore his live audience. Trump is not educating the American people as one ought to expect from a President, rather he is lowering the status of the office. This is not a reflection on any specific policy but on the Office of the President. By addressing his political base while speaking before the array of nations he was embarrassing the United States and the Office of the President.
As a result of Trump’s remarks, France’s President Emmanuel Macron offered himself as the leader of the free world. While this initiative is self-serving, the international community watched as the world’s leaders appeared to be jockeying for power in embarrassing fashion. Certainly, if Trump intends to withdraw America from a position of global leadership, it will remain for the world powers to decide how the Western community can adjust its conduct on the global stage.
The immediate case in point was the future of an Iranian nuclear threat where Trump made it very clear again today in addressing the Security Council that he rejected the joint agreement made in 2015 among the P5+1 (the Permanent Members of the Security Council and Germany) with Iran. This decision can be considered the first major political break in U.S. leadership of the Western Bloc.