Another sign of Trump’s iso­la­tion­ist think­ing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - Sun Xingjie The au­thor is deputy dean of the School of In­ter­na­tional and Pub­lic Af­fairs, Jilin Uni­ver­sity. The ar­ti­cle is an ex­cerpt from his in­ter­view with China Daily’s Cui Shoufeng.

The United States an­nounced on Thurs­day that it was with­draw­ing from UNESCO, the United Na­tions’ cul­tural and ed­u­ca­tional agency, cit­ing its frus­tra­tion at how the Paris-based or­ga­ni­za­tion is run and its “con­tin­u­ing anti-Is­rael bias” as the rea­sons. Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said Is­rael plans to fol­low suit.

The US will re­main a full mem­ber of UNESCO un­til Dec 31 next year, af­ter which it will seek to es­tab­lish a per­ma­nent ob­server mis­sion to the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

While the Don­ald Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion had been pre­par­ing for a likely with­drawal for months, the tim­ing of the US State De­part­ment’s state­ment is due to the re­source­ful Is­raeli lob­by­ists in the US. Is­rael has been en­raged by re­cent UNESCO res­o­lu­tions that name an­cient Jewish sites as Pales­tinian her­itage sites.

It is not the first time Wash­ing­ton has pulled out of UNESCO. It did the same in 1984 be­cause it saw the agency as cor­rupt and in­clined to ad­vance the Soviet Union’s in­ter­ests, only to re­join the or­ga­ni­za­tion in 2003.

De­spite a se­ries of fail­ures to de­liver on his elec­tion prom­ises, Trump is se­ri­ous about car­ry­ing out his “Amer­ica First” cam­paign, which is hav­ing a pro­found in­flu­ence on the US for­eign pol­icy as shown in Wash­ing­ton’s with­drawal from the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship Agree­ment and Paris cli­mate agree­ment.

The cut in the State De­part­ment bud- get aside, his iso­la­tion­ist think­ing ob­vi­ously con­tra­dicts the fact that the US con­trib­utes 22 per­cent of the UN mem­ber­ship fees and 28 per­cent of the cost of the UN peace­keep­ing mis­sions. That said, the US un­der Trump’s watch is ex­pected to scale down its par­tic­i­pa­tion in in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions, en­hanc­ing the like­li­hood of a power vac­uum.

Its prom­ise to stay en­gaged as a non-mem­ber “ob­server state” on “non-politi­cized” is­sues such as the pro­tec­tion of World Her­itage sites still mat­ters, be­cause Wash­ing­ton’s full re­treat from global af­fairs risks desta­bi­liz­ing the US-led post-World War II or­der. How­ever, the turn­ing in­ward of the US in­di­cates a new mul­ti­lat­eral ap­proach to global gov­er­nance is called for.


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