In Trump’s wa­ke, a new world or­der can ins­pi­re us again

Wes­tern va­lues for wes­ter­ners has a ni­ce ring to it. Let the rest of the world ma­ke their own va­lue choi­ces. It su­re beats neo-co­lo­nial wars in dis­tant lands

La Jornada (Canada) - - ENGLISH SECTION -

In fi­ve short months, Do­nald Trump has tur­ned the world up­si­de down. So what kind of new world or­der can we ex­pect?

Trump has at­tac­ked NATO (ques­tio­ning its very exis­ten­ce), sh­red­ded tra­de agree­ments li­ke the North Ame­ri­can Free Tra­de Agree­ment (NAF­TA) and the Trans-Pa­ci­fic Part­ners­hip ( TPP), and with­drawn the U.S. from the Pa­ris cli­ma­te chan­ge agree­ment. He’s in­sul­ted allies, em­bra­ced bru­tal dic­ta­tors and pro­mi­sed to put Ame­ri­can in­ter­ests first and fo­re­most.

It’s a far cry from the mag­na­ni­mous world­view of for­mer U.S. pre­si­dent John F. Ken­nedy in the 1960s and a ra­di­cal de­par­tu­re from the pos­tSe­cond World War norm.

Ho­we­ver, the new world or­der Trump has blun­de­red upon still re­sem­bles the old world or­der, with one ma­jor dif­fe­ren­ce. Trump has ma­de it clear that the Uni­ted Sta­tes is no lon­ger wi­lling to carry the lea­ders­hip bur­den or foot the bill.

Wes­tern lea­ders ha­ve be­gun to reali­ze that this ra­di­cal de­par­tu­re is not simply anot­her la­te-night mu­sing of The Do­nald. It re­pre­sents the views of sig­ni­fi­cant num­bers of frus­tra­ted and angry Ame­ri­cans.

You can feel backs stif­fe­ning around the Wes­tern world.

Ger­man Chan­ce­llor An­ge­la Mer­kel sta­ted the ob­vious: “The ti­mes in which we could com­ple­tely de­pend on ot­hers are, to a cer­tain ex­tent, over. ... We Eu­ro­peans truly ha­ve to ta­ke our fa­te in­to our own hands.”

Ca­na­dian Fo­reign Mi­nis­ter Chrys­tia Free­land de­li­ve­red Ca­na­da’s most as­ser­ti­ve fo­reign po­licy de­cla­ra­tion in de­ca­des to the Hou­se of Com­mons. Ca­na­da will chan­ge its ro­le and in­crea­se its mi­li­tary spen­ding to help fill a Trump-in­du­ced va­cuum in glo­bal lea­ders­hip.

But what kind of world or­der are we trying to build?

The 70-year post-war era was do­mi­na­ted by the Uni­ted Sta­tes. Af­ter the co­llap­se of Na­zi Ger­many in 1945, the U.S and its Allies es­sen­tially rein­ven­ted the wes­tern world.

The sub­se­quent world or­der was built on U.S. mi­li­tary, eco­no­mic and ideo­lo­gi­cal po­wer. The U.S. was the dri­ving for­ce and de fac­to lead- er, not just of NATO, but of a host of post-war ins­ti­tu­tions li­ke the World Bank, the In­ter­na­tio­nal Mo­ne­tary Fund and the World Tra­de Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Af­ter the co­llap­se of So­viet com­mu­nism in the la­te 1980s, the ‘free world’ see­med to be as­cen­dant. The­re was a strong be­lief in the 1990s that the fi­nal ideo­lo­gi­cal battle had been won and the va­lues and ins­ti­tu­tions that de­fi­ned the West would na­tu­rally be­co­me the go­ver­ning fun­da­men­tals of the en­ti­re pla­net.

That rosy as­sum­ption tur­ned out to be al­most en­ti­rely wrong. Glo­ba­li­za­tion of the world eco­nomy ba­sed on the Was­hing­ton Con­sen­sus tur­ned out to be a gift to mul­ti-na­tio­nal cor­po­ra­tions that could pla­ce their pro­duc­tion in low-wa­ge eco­no­mies with no unions, no en­vi­ron­men­tal res­tric­tions and no messy hu­man rights con­cerns. Tra­de agree­ments in­su­red free entry of the­se goods to wes­tern mar­kets.

This re­sul­ted in lost jobs and the ho­llo­wing out of the ma­nu­fac­tu­ring ba­se of many de­ve­lo­ped eco­no­mies. And that tur­ned many peo­ple against glo­ba­li­za­tion.

On the po­li­ti­cal front, many peo­ples around the world re­jec­ted wes­tern-ins­pi­red pro­gres­si­ve initia­ti­ves li­ke LGBTQ rights. Mus­lim fun­da­men­ta­lists, in par­ti­cu­lar, not only re­ject de­mo­cracy and wes­tern va­lues but ha­ve laun­ched a holy war against them that has brought bloody te­rror to the streets of Pa­ris, Lon­don and ot­her wes­tern ci­ties.

On the mi­li­tary front, Rus­sia and Chi­na are emer­ging as great po­wers. Rus­sia ne­ver really ac­cep­ted its se­cond-class sta­tus af­ter the fall of the So­viet Union. The Rus­sian an­ne­xa­tion of Cri­mea and its ag­gres­si­ve mi­li­tary in­ter­ven­tion in Sy­ria form part of a lar­ger su­per-po­wer ro­le Pre­si­dent Vla­di­mir Pu­tin is sha­ping in de­fian­ce of the wes­tern world­view.

So what should the wes­tern res­pon­se be?

Wes­tern lea­ders could do wor­se than res­to­ring the West as it exis­ted be­fo­re the co­llap­se of the So­viet Bloc.

Wes­tern va­lues for wes­ter­ners has a ni­ce ring to it. And, alt­hough in­su­lar, it frees wes­tern po­wers from in­ter­ve­ning around the world to pro­mo­te va­lues that don’t ha­ve lo­cal sup­port. Let the rest of the world ma­ke their own va­lue choi­ces. It su­re beats figh­ting neo-co­lo­nial wars in dis­tant lands.

Re­draf­ting tra­de agree­ments so they ser­ve the in­ter­ests of wes­tern eco­no­mies would al­so ha­ve gro­wing sup­port. Free-tra­de agree­ments and glo­ba­li­za­tion ha­ve not ser­ved the in­ter­ests of the wes­tern midd­le clas­ses and many (quietly) sup­port Trump’s plan to blow them up.

The bot­tom li­ne is that wes­tern ci­vi­li­za­tion is not a uni­ver­sal cul­tu­re. We need to ac­cept our li­mi­ta­tions and start ta­king ca­re of our own.

Ma­king the world over in our ima­ge is not only too great a bur­den for the Uni­ted Sta­tes, it’s a fool’s errand for the rest of us. -TROYMEDIA

Ro­bert McGar­vey is chief stra­te­gist for Troy Me­dia Di­gi­tal So­lu­tions Ltd., an eco­no­mic his­to­rian and for­mer ma­na­ging di­rec­tor of Mer­lin Con­sul­ting, a Lon­don, U.K.-ba­sed con­sul­ting firm. Ro­bert’s most re­cent book is Fu­tu­ro­mics: A Gui­de to Th­ri­ving in Ca­pi­ta­lism’s Third Wa­ve.

www.la­jor­na­da.ca

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