Why global lead­ers are putting their coun­tries first

Trump has pointed out that pri­or­i­tiz­ing na­tional in­ter­ests is not self­ish but nec­es­sary

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY - By Joseph D’Souza

To any­one who lis­tened to Pres­i­dent Trump’s speech be­fore the U.N. Gen­eral As­sem­bly in Septem­ber one thing should have been abun­dantly clear: The pres­i­dent wasn’t there for any­one else’s in­ter­ests but Amer­ica’s. “Our govern­ment’s first duty is to its peo­ple, to our ci­ti­zens — to serve their needs, to en­sure their safety, to pre­serve their rights, and to de­fend their val­ues,” said Mr. Trump, eschew­ing the tra­di­tional coy re­marks that for­eign lead­ers of­ten em­ploy to drape their true in­ten­tions.

He threat­ened North Korea for de­vel­op­ing nu­clear weapons, de­nounced Iran’s hypocrisy in fund­ing ter­ror­ism and desta­bi­liz­ing the Mid­dle

East, and crit­i­cized Venezuela’s so­cial­ist govern­ment. He even called out fel­low U.N. mem­bers for not putting more pres­sure on “rogue regimes” rep­re­sented in the body.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Trump, this is not the time for po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness — es­pe­cially when at stake is the na­tional se­cu­rity of the Amer­i­can peo­ple

“As pres­i­dent of the United States, I will al­ways put Amer­ica first, just like you, as the lead­ers of your coun­tries will al­ways, and should al­ways, put your coun­tries first,” he said.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, head­lines branded Mr. Trump’s ad­dress as an ex­er­cise of ex­treme na­tion­al­ism, a jin­go­is­tic tirade that ac­com­plished noth­ing but of­fend and alien­ate its lis­ten­ers. But Mr. Trump’s words didn’t fall on deaf ears.

Ev­ery world leader in the room knew ex­actly what he was talk­ing about. Why else would they come to Gen­eral As­sem­bly if it wasn’t to rep­re­sent their self-in­ter­ests?

The sim­ple truth in Mr. Trump’s speech is that pa­tri­o­tism — one’s sa­cred sense of duty to coun­try — is be­ing aban­doned for po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness and in do­ing so, world lead­ers are for­get­ting the very peo­ple they’re sup­posed to be fight­ing for.

Yet putting one’s coun­try first doesn’t mean ne­glect­ing our shared re­spon­si­bil­ity to tackle global is­sues or for­sak­ing al­lies. It means that if we ac­tu­ally want to be able to solve the world’s problems, we have to work first for the ben­e­fit and in­ter­ests of our own

This is why Mr. Trump has put such a heavy em­pha­sis on re­turn­ing power to the Amer­i­can peo­ple and fight­ing for the in­ter­ests of the work­ing class. He un­der­stands that a strong peo­ple is the best as­set to global peace.

In In­dia, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is also putting our na­tional in­ter­ests first, con­fronting ter­ror­ism and ex­e­cut­ing a mas­sive plan to in­vig­o­rate In­dia’s econ­omy.

When In­dia took the dais at the Gen­eral As­sem­bly, Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj openly crit­i­cized Pak­istan’s con­tin­u­ous ex­port of ter­ror­ism. “If Pak­istan had spent on its de­vel­op­ment what it has spent on de­vel­op­ing ter­ror, both Pak­istan and the world would be safer and bet­ter off to­day,” she said in her scorch­ing speech.

On the eco­nomic side, Mr. Modi has launched one am­bi­tious ini­tia­tive af­ter an­other. And though some have been met with se­ri­ous chal­lenges and con­cerns — such as last year’s sud­den de­mon­e­ti­za­tion or­der or the rocky im­ple­men­ta­tion of the goods-and-ser­vices tax — there’s no ques­tion the prime min­is­ter wants to make In­dia into an eco­nomic pow­er­house.

The re­cent launch of the “Make in In­dia” cam­paign, which in­vites for­eign in­vest­ment, is al­ready gain­ing mo­men­tum. A deal has been struck with Ja­pan to build In­dia’s first-ever bul­let train, con­nect­ing Mum­bai and Ahmed­abad, and just re­cently the world’s sec­ond-largest dam was un­veiled in Gu­jarat. Be­sides ir­ri­gat­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of hectares of land for agri­cul­tural use and de­liv­er­ing drink­ing water to scores of ur­ban cen­ters and thou­sands of vil­lages, the Sar­dar Sarovar Dam will pro­vide power to the states of Gu­jarat, Mad­hya Pradesh and Ma­ha­rash­tra.

And this is not even count­ing the ag­gres­sive plans to tran­si­tion In­dia’s in­fra­struc­ture into al­ter­na­tive forms of en­ergy, like elec­tric cars, or the deals bro­kered to con­struct new fa­cil­i­ties to build U.S. war­planes, which will re­quire skilled work­ers and en­gi­neers.

In­dia is des­per­ate and ready for change, yet while we take th­ese impressive strides, our govern­ment must not for­get the hun­dreds of mil­lions of In­di­ans at the bot­tom rung of the eco­nomic lad­der who have yet to reap the ben­e­fits of glob­al­iza­tion. Eco­nomic growth should not ben­e­fit only the largest en­ter­prises or the priv­i­leged.

Ac­cord­ing to govern­ment es­ti­mates, 86 per­cent of In­dia’s work­ers are em­ployed in the in­for­mal or un­or­ga­nized econ­omy, yet they pro­duce more than 40 per­cent of In­dia’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct. It’s this sec­tor of our econ­omy that needs the most at­ten­tion if we truly want trans­for­ma­tive change, be­cause it af­fects the ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion. And with the yearly ad­di­tion of 1 mil­lion young adults to the work force — many of which en­ter into this sec­tor — this is an is­sue In­dia can­not af­ford to ig­nore.

If our youth do not have the op­por­tu­nity for up­ward mo­bil­ity in life and at work, they will grow frus­trated and dis­il­lu­sioned. It’s on this kind of frus­tra­tion that rad­i­cal ex­trem­ists prey upon to desta­bi­lize and weaken so­ci­eties.

“To­day, if we do not in­vest our­selves, our hearts, and our minds in our na­tions, if we will not build strong fam­i­lies, safe com­mu­ni­ties, and healthy so­ci­eties for our­selves, no one can do it for us,” Mr. Trump warned the Gen­eral As­sem­bly.

Like Pres­i­dent Trump, Prime Min­is­ter Modi knows that pri­or­i­tiz­ing In­dia’s in­ter­ests is not self­ish but nec­es­sary. If we want a vi­able fu­ture for our coun­try and to be able to re­spond and con­trib­ute to world­wide needs, we must start with putting In­dia first.

Joseph D’Souza is the mod­er­at­ing bishop of the Good Shep­herd Church and As­so­ci­ated Min­istries of In­dia. He is pres­i­dent of the All In­dia Chris­tian Coun­cil and is the founder and in­ter­na­tional pres­i­dent of the Dalit Free­dom Net­work.

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