The World Around Us

Say what you will but one must give credit where credit is due.  President Trump has sucked all the air out of “world awareness news”.  Whether it is just one more mistruth or stinging slanderous verbal attack, President Trump is aiming for the news cycle’s center of attention.  And there seems to be no depth Trump is not willing to descend in order to be the lead story at 6 pm.

What about 

  • Brexit – With the United Kingdom poised to withdraw from the European Union without any negotiated terms, America’s “special relationship ally” is headed down a dangerous path based solely upon political misinformation.  British voters heard politicians remind them of the woes associated with free movement of labor where Eastern European laborers, willing to work for low wages, were pushing out UK workers.  “Don’t you want your sovereignty back”, asked the politicians.  British citizens voted in favor of Brexit in a referendum partially on promises of a brighter day tomorrow and no problems with the “Brexit” itself.  Pundits tell us “sunshine and no problems” was never true and voters were misled.

Of course, British citizens have the right to decide for their future and Brexit or no Brexit is a British choice.  What is important to Americans is the precedent where use of a referendum fueled by misinformation and no route to revisit the referendum vote is an abdication of responsible governance.  In the age of mis-information, Americans should recognize how fragile democracy can be and from history, once democracy is taken away, what an ugly path authoritarianism can be.

  • Burning of the Rain Forest – Brazil’s hinterlands are a world wonder.  According to environmentalists Brazil’s rain forest sucks up CO2 and pumps out O2 helping to offset the developed world’s production of global warming gases.  Recently when pictures emerged (even from space) of large Amazon Rain Forest parcels ablaze, the world (not necessarily the US) took notice.

The fires were not an accident of nature but rather the purposeful intent of local farmers to increase the area of land available for raising cattle.  Free enterprise at work.  What basis does the rest of the world have to deny Brazilians the right to pursue their own future?

The world has no right to deny Brazil its chance to develop its economy.  If keeping the rain forest green is important for global warming reasons, the developed world needs to offer trading opportunities that make it preferable for Brazil to keep the Rain Forests green.

To draw a line under the irony of Brazil raising cattle, is reportedly the new customers were from China!  Why is China not a potentially good customer for US farmers.  Hmmm.  

  • North Korea – When President Trump broke with past precedents and agreed to meet with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-Un, the President signal that making a deal and using personal diplomacy were his specialty.  Our President pointed out that in only a short time he had done more than any President before him.  Now two years later, how do things stand?

The recent picture of Chaiman Kim standing beside a submarine thought capable of firing a nuclear tipped missile off the US shores captures the notion of what happens when one pokes a bees nest with a stick and then walks away.  Our President has no way to put the North Korean behavior back in a box especially since neighbors China and Russia are at odds with President Trump and US Foreign Policy.  North Korea seems determined to follow a nuclear course of their own.  Americans are getting a reminder that good relations builds coalitions which in turn present a united front towards countries which disagreeable policies.

  • Japan-South Korea – Two US allies have descended into a tit for tat, destructive foreign policy with respect to each other.  The basis for Japan and South Korea’s quarrels is routed in history with Japan’s occupation of Korea during WWII as the most recent reminder.  The US has the credentials to remind both countries that there are bigger adversaries than each other.  But with an “America First” policy, the Trump White House is blind to the cracks forming in our Pacific defense wall.  Hmmm.

 

  • India-Pakistan – “The little old lady who lived in a shoe, she had so many children, she did not know what to do”.  Little old ladies, India and Pakistan fit this fable to a Tee.  But add to this children’s story that these old ladies have nuclear weapons and have been ready in the past to attack each other, there should be genuine worry in the White House about keeping the peace.

What me worry(?), says Alfred E Trump. 

President Trump acts as if those 2 billion plus countries were like Australia and New Zealand.  No problems there.

  • Middle East – Probably no place else in the world has the Trump doctrine been more poisonous.  Give the Israeli and Saudi Arabian governments what ever they seek and the Middle East will take care of itself.  This attitude certainly clears the calendar to allow for more golf but like giving candy to a baby, Israel and Saudi Arabia will misuse whatever the Trump White House gives.  Even if one thinks that Israel and Saudi Arabia will act as surrogates to contain Iran, the three countries shackled by theocracy and selfish objectives can open more cans of worms before the tweeting President can retweet.

 

  • China – Most Americans still think of China as a back water country with “coolie-like peasants running around” keeping busy.  Wrong.  China has burst into the 21st century with tall buildings, high speed trains, and economy second only to the US.  The Chinese political system is built around one party.  Who ever controls the Communist party controls China, and the Communist party membership realizes that their individual good lives rests upon the Communist Party remaining in charge.  Chairman Xi knows that economic stability is key to keeping the masses placated.  Over twenty years of double digit growth has satisfied much but not all China’s population so Xi is aware of keeping the image of a strong, growing, and peaceful China before his citizens.  

China has a long history and expectation that life presents surprises but real change takes a long time. Xi is not fooled by President Trump.  Quick “tariffs fights” are not going to happen and worse, during these trade wars, China will see little reason to cooperate with US wishes.  Hmmm.

  • Russia – Although the Russian economy is small compared to the US, the EU, or China, Russia’s nuclear weapons make Russia a player.  The Communist Party rule, as with China, insulates President Putin from normal political pressure.  Accordingly, Russian foreign policy is geared to what’s good maintaining the Party and indirectly what’s good for enriching Putin.

With Russia’s fingers in the Middle East, coveting former Soviet countries in Eastern Europe, and a supposed ally of North Korea, US Russian foreign policy must be thoughtfully constructed and executed.  Not President Trump’s long suite?

President Trump is simply unqualified to lead the US in a world as complicated and intertwined as we find today.  Despite the President’s insistence that he, Donald Trump, is the smartest person in the room, the facts speak otherwise.  The 35% Trump supporters probably do not need to think further about this matter.  For the rest of us, we should realize that the next President’s most pressing task will be to provide leadership that will bring sensibility back to our allies, and to appoint qualified Americans to rebuild our domestic institutions.  The 2020 election cannot come soon enough.

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