President Donald Trump’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly last week was harshly criticized by the leftist media, as was expected. The point of their narrative was “the world is laughing at us,” which referred to the reaction of UN leaders to Trump’s statement: “In less than two years my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”
While the left’s toothless attacks on the Trump administration’s achievements have become something routinely humdrum, there is a deep reason for the left’s hateful rejection of Trump’s foreign policy doctrine rooted in national sovereignty and patriotism. The left argues that his methods will “destroy” America, starting with potential losses of trade wars, to the threats of actual wars and the worsening of relations with our traditional allies.
But it was not Trump who brought disarray to the world. Trump’s national-oriented foreign policy was a response to the distortions of globalization that did not benefit working Americans and made the world less safe. Symptomatically, the surge of popularity of right-wing parties throughout Europe, and the “EU-exit” process was a result of the massive rejection of the globalism as well. So, what was the U.S.-led globalism and why is it crumbling now?
The groundbreaking technological inventions of the 20th century in transportation and communications, and later revolutionary development of informational technologies, made a world more interconnected and globalized. The common definition of globalization is a process of interaction and integration between people, companies and governments worldwide. The governed globalization is called a globalism.
With the downfall of the bipolar world order in the early 1990s, the U.S. remained the only superpower that had all necessary resources and will to lead a globalization. It was grounded in the neoliberal idea that equated Western values of freedom, democracy and free market to “universal values” that are common for all mankind. The United States, as the “leader of the free world,” took a new mission to bring the light of civilization to those unfortunate people who suffered under the totalitarian regimes throughout the world. This rationale justified the U.S.’s expansionist political and economic expansion.
“America should write the rules (for the global economy). Other countries should play by the rules that America and our partners set, and not the other way around,” Barack Obama wrote in a Washington Post column referring to the TTP agreement. Thus, a true meaning of globalization was a westernization, or forceful imposition of the political and economic will of the leaders of globalization, namely trans-international corporations and supranational political and economic entities in the name of “universal” values. No wonder that the practical implementation of this approach shaped a universal image of America as of a “global sheriff,” who also acted as a prosecutor and a judge.
Economically, a global “free market” led to the international separation of labor when the U.S. developed a postindustrial economy that focused on finances, information technologies and services, and control over the newest technologies and intellectual property. Simultaneously, a major part of the industrial manufacturing had been moved to developing countries with cheap labor and resources.
A high concentration of world production and labor in South-East Asia, as well as the accumulation of technologies, goods and finances have strengthened the positions of the regional players, namely China, and has given them a leverage to influence global economic processes. The U.S., in contrast, is facing a significant trade deficit ($43.1 billion) and a national debt ($21 trillion), and while it still dominates the world economy, the trends are discouraging since the American part in a global GDP has declined by nearly a half since the 1960s.
It is worth mentioning that the universal “free market” did not benefit the world gross welfare either. According to the numerous U.N. and OECD (Organization for Economic cooperation and development) reports, the gap between rich and poor countries has widened, as the later were ill-prepared to adapt and frankly were taken advantage of.
Politically, the crusade in the name of human rights and democracy has destabilized whole regions. This included the war in Afghanistan (2003-2014) and Iraq (2003-2011) that disrupted a fragile balance between Sunni and Shia, led to civil wars and devastated economies. All of this created a fruitful ground for the rise of the Islamic terrorist groups, including ISIS. Similarly, American involvement in the events of the Arab Spring of 2011 that overthrew undemocratic, but at least secular and mostly pro-Western regimes, has brought to power religious fanatics even less democratic than their predecessors and who share radical anti-American views.
American support of the “colour revolutions” in the post-Soviet countries and Balkans in the 2000s has also destabilized political processes in these countries and undermined the very concept of democracy, as well as America’s credibility. An evident foreign interference put into power weak and unprofessional governments that in many cases worsened countries’ situations.
Lastly, the leading position did not come cheap for America. The U.S. is the largest provider of financial contributions to the United Nations, providing 22 percent of the entire U.N. budget in 2017, or $10 billion. In 2017, the U.S. accounted for 71.7 percent of NATO’s combined defense expenditure. In short, the U.S. contributed more funds to NATO than Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Canada combined.
As globalization becomes dangerously lopsided, our approach to it should be revised. And the people think this way, too. Thus, a recent Pew survey confirmed America’s world-weariness: Only slightly more than a third of Americans felt the U.S. should help other countries with their problems. The election of a president who champions “America first” sentiments and who wants to slash diplomacy and development funding by 32 percent confirmed it as well.
That is why most Americans rejoice when they hear Trump’s words, “We reject the ideology of globalism and accept the doctrine of patriotism,” as it is the time to live and let live, and to reintroduce American national interests into the heart of our foreign policy once again.
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