US Global Leadership Ratings Plummet to All Time Low – Part II

Terry F.Buss |

Just as he was able to rescind Obama policies, Trump is setting up a situation where others will rescind his policies. Instability will reign.

US Global Leadership Ratings Plummet to All Time Low – (Part I)

US Global Leadership Ratings Plummet to All Time Low – Part II - Ảnh 1.

At least two policies widely panned by globalists make sense in Trump’s policy universe: climate change and NATO. Others, like trade, are ill-conceived.

Climate Change. Trump shocked the world in June 2017 when he announced that the US would drop out of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord calling on countries to reduce carbon emissions. He felt that the US would be unfairly penalizing its own industries just as they began to recover from the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. Trump claims that the US would lose $3 trillion in GDP at the cost of 2.7 million jobs in the next few years.

Trump also objected to the agreement in that it would allow China to reach peak levels of pollution by 2030, before it would begin to reduce carbon emissions.  From the New York Times, Chinese firms are building 700 coal burning power plants in the next few years, while the US is shutting down its coal industry.

US Global Leadership Ratings Plummet to All Time Low – Part II - Ảnh 2.

Images: Reuters

Now, according to Agora Energiewende, Germany, the global leader in climate change, announced in September 2017 that it would not be able to reach its Paris greenhouse gas emission targets, falling 25% short. In January 2018, Germany’s new coalition government announced that it would not be pursuing the Paris targets. Only three European countries reported that they were attaining their climate targets.

The European Union indicated that their efforts would not reduce the global rises in temperature below 2⁰C target. In addition to China’s coal plant development spree, another 62 countries are adding 900 plants: the result: 43% more energy from coal. Unbelievably, according to the Overseas Development Institute, the European Union has been subsidizing fossil fuels at €112 billion over the past three years. Germany subsidized its fossil fuel industry at €36 billion over the same period.

From Trump’s perspective, those in the world community who attacked him on climate issues have been unable or unwilling to meet their own commitments. Not only that, other signers of the Paris Accord are adding coal-fired plants just as Trump is now planning to do.

Trump’s argument is that the world community is calling for the US to penalize itself to achieve climate goals while the rest of the world continues with "business as usual."

To add fuel to the fire, Trump always protests that Obama unwisely and illegally signed the Paris Accord without the required approval from Congress. Congress would not have approved the deal. Trump undid Obama’s work also by the stroke of a pen.

NATO. Trump called NATO an "obsolete" organization and attacked its members for not spending enough on their own defense and placing the security burden on the US. NATO members were obligated to spend 2% of GDP on defense, but only 5 of 28 members are doing so. The US spends 5% and is increasing. Trump’s argument is that the US, in paying for European defense, allows them to free up their budgets to fund domestic programs for their citizens at the expense of American taxpayers.

US Global Leadership Ratings Plummet to All Time Low – Part II - Ảnh 3.

Aside from Trump’s fairness argument that Europe is exploiting the US, their lack of spending has serious consequences for the balance of power in the region vis-à-vis Russia. Germany spends only 1.2% of GDP on defense. Military analysts conclude that the Germans pose little resistance to Russia in the event of an armed conflict. A leading German newspaper, Die Welt, reported on the deplorable state of the German military this February. The Germans have only 95 main battle tanks in operation. The Russians have 20,000. Trump taunts that maybe the Germans have surrendered in advance. The US has about 10,000 tanks.

Trump seems to be saying that it is in America’s interest to defend Europe, but he questions why it’s not in Europe’s interest to defend itself.

Boneheaded Policies. While Trump sees his polices as triumphs over Obama and globalists, some of them are wrong-headed and dangerous. Trade is likely the worst. Trump is abandoning multilateral free trade deals in place or in progress. He wants bilateral deals that benefit the US and the trading partner.

The problem with this strategy is multifold. He has only reached one bilateral trade deal with South Korea after 15 months in office. He has unraveled the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico without replacing it. He has abandoned the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement—among 11 nations including Vietnam—basically ceding power to China to dominate trade in the Asia Pacific Region. He fails to realize that some trade deals are politically necessary, if not economically fair: he attacks South Korea and Japan on trade when he needs their good will on North Korean nuclear weapons. When he can’t justify the economics of tariffs he has imposed, he relies on dubious national security rationales which appear unfounded. On top of all of this, Trump launches these policies by Twitter in very undiplomatic ways.

US Global Leadership Ratings Plummet to All Time Low – Part II - Ảnh 4.

How can we understand US global leadership?

Neither Trump, nor Obama effectively played the role of global leader. For nearly a decade, Obama changed global expectations about what America’s leadership role should be. Obama ceded that the global leadership to others. Allies and adversaries, then, changed their behavior accordingly. They began to pursue their own agendas much more aggressively. Obama, in transforming US leadership, pursued policies that would make globalists happy. But he was unable to secure support for his policies in the Congress or among the American people in many cases. Acting as he did, Obama created policies that could be easily overturned. Enter Trump!

US Global Leadership Ratings Plummet to All Time Low – Part II - Ảnh 5.

Trump has been very articulate in presenting his new leadership model to the world. Aside from promising to unravel everything Obama did, Trump’s model seeks international partners who will pursue policies that are of mutual benefit, not one-sided. But Trump is failing for the same reasons as Obama and he has added some new dimensions as well.

Trump, even though he claims to be the consummate deal maker and negotiator has not won much widespread support either from Americans and Congress or the world. So, just as he was able to rescind Obama policies, Trump is setting up a situation where others will rescind his policies. Instability will reign.

This nonsense with Twitter and boorish behavior displayed by Trump may appeal to those who like to see a strong president confront his opponents, but it is unnecessary and self-defeating. Nearly every time Trump triumphs in the policy arena, he shoots himself in the foot. He attacks some movie star or politician, trying to demean them. He Tweets some message that contradicts his own policy. Or, he misrepresents facts that then have to be retracted, developing a reputation either as a liar or as uninformed. Trump has sacrificed his own credibility to feed his own ego.

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Trump might actually be successful if he were to build support and abandon his Twitter policy making. Given that he has been in office over a year and seems to be getting more dysfunctional, it appears that this will not change. His supporters just sigh, "let Trump be Trump."

Trump’s opposition will continue to attack so long as he behaves as he is now. But The Resistance, both domestically and globally, might want to consider what price America will pay if they push Trump over the edge. Trump thrives on controversy and chaos, and seems to be unconcerned whether he is liked or not. He seems to measure success against the number of enemies he has made. This is no way to govern.

The prospects for resolving global issues with US leadership are not good. Trump continues to lead the world by not leading the world!

theo Trí Thức Trẻ

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