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The ‘liberal international order’… January 11, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Fascinating to see that the US administration has downgraded the status of the EU embassy in Washington.

The European Union’s delegation in Washington – led by Irishman David O’ Sullivan – had enjoyed the same status as a national embassy. But the State Department last year classified the embassy as an international organization, alongside the African Union.

This is of a piece with the following:

[Trump] made no secret of his view of the European Union during the presidential campaign, voicing support for Brexit on several occasions. The EU is just one of several multilateral institutions such as Nato and the UN that the Trump administration has dismissed. Last month US secretary of state Mike Pompeo delivered a speech in Brussels that was highly critical of the European Union, calling for the restoration of the role of the nation-state in the liberal international order.

Of course Washington would like that. In such an ‘order’ the larger states would find it easier to apply the pressure their size gives them to smaller states. You can find the text of the Pompeo speech online – and it’s well worth a read if only for its incoherence. He makes a good fist of attempting to square the circle of an isolationist President who is uninterested and unmoved by international affairs with the traditional approach of the US, but he can’t quite paper over the cracks.

This is what President Trump is doing. He is returning the United States to its traditional, central leadership role in the world. He sees the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. He knows that nothing can replace the nation-state as the guarantor of democratic freedoms and national interests. He knows, as George H.W. Bush knew, that a safer world has consistently demanded American courage on the world stage. And when we – and when we all of us ignore our responsibilities to the institutions we’ve formed, others will abuse them.
Critics in places like Iran and China – who really are undermining the international order – are saying the Trump administration is the reason this system is breaking down. They claim America is acting unilaterally instead of multilaterally, as if every kind of multilateral action is by definition desirable. Even our European friends sometimes say we’re not acting in the world’s interest. This is just plain wrong.
Our mission is to reassert our sovereignty, reform the liberal international order, and we want our friends to help us and to exert their sovereignty as well. We aspire to make the international order serve our citizens – not to control them. America intends to lead – now and always.
Under President Trump, we are not abandoning international leadership or our friends in the international system. Indeed, quite the contrary. Just look, as one example, at the historic number of countries which have gotten on board our pressure campaign against North Korea. No other nation in the world could have rallied dozens of nations, from every corner of the world, to impose sanctions on the regime in Pyongyang.

And there’s this:

We changed course from the Iran deal, because of, among other things, Tehran’s violent and destabilizing activities, which undermined the spirit of the deal and put the safety of American people and our allies at risk. In its place, we are leading our allies to constrain Iran’s revolutionary ambitions and end Iran’s campaigns of global terrorism. And we needn’t a new bureaucracy to do it. We need to continue to develop a coalition which will achieve that outcome which will keep people in the Middle East, in Europe, and the entire world safe from the threat from Iran.
America renegotiated our treaty, NAFTA, to advance the interests of the American worker. President Trump proudly signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement at the G20 this past weekend in Buenos Aires, and on Friday will submit it to the Congress, a body accountable to the American people.

All this is so transparently contestable that I’ll leave it to others. Foreign Policy notes:

In the end, Pompeo’s speech was little more than a sea of contradictions. It claimed that the United States was “rallying the noble nations of the world to build a new liberal order that prevents war and achieves greater prosperity for all.” But he also announced that the United States was reasserting its sovereignty and that, going forward, it would support institutions that serve U.S. interests. Europeans didn’t hear that as a rallying cry to save the liberal order. They read it as a thinly veiled attempt for the United States to gain “more freedom of action,” Masala said.

But entirely telling was the fact he embraced NATO fervently when his own President has been antagonistic to the point of hostility about it.

The reality is there is no Trump doctrine whatsoever. It’s an absence of doctrine. How far that takes the US is interesting to consider.

Comments»

1. An Sionnach Fionn - January 11, 2019

A legacy of Bannonism? Given that Trump has no ideology as such.

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GW - January 11, 2019

Well Trump was once Bannon’s ‘blunt instrument’. They don’t come much blunter.

Every armed-to-the-teeth nation is ‘exerting sovereignty’. And we know where that ends.

Meanwhile the climate is exerting the sovereignty of physics, chemistry and biology. Against that the only sovereignty is the internationalist one.

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2. CL - January 11, 2019

..
“Leveraging his father’s slumlord fortune, and mobilizing talents honed in TV entertainment, Trump launched a vigorous attack on globalist American elites who had spent billions helping other countries—notably China—get rich…
Here it would be futile to separate ‘cultural’ from ‘economic’ issues: the two are inextricably linked. To the extent that Trump’s economic-nationalist agenda had a popular basis, it rested on workers and middle-class layers who had suffered from the offshoring of jobs and who feared competition from immigrants in employment, rather than welcoming them as a cheap source of labour….
More striking, in class terms, is Trump’s hostile relationship with key sections of the American elite, in sharp contrast to the good relations the interwar fascist leaders enjoyed with their big bourgeoisies and landowners….
there is a high level of unease within the US capitalist class about Trump….
Trump’s relations with the national-security intelligentsia and imperial bureaucracy have likewise been antagonistic. The President clearly views the International Relations schools and ‘their’ agency, the State Department, with contempt…
the State Department, with the support of the Democrats, has often been more belligerent than Trump himself, forcing him to take a harder line on Russia and the DPRK. …
Trump’s Cabinet combines conventional GOP personnel with a scattering of wild-card appointments….
Trump has no cadre organization at his command. The product of a political culture dominated by money and spectacle, he has fastened his star to the GOP and his Administration is to a large extent its creature….
Trump’s notion of government is precisely patrimonial.. For him, the relationship of the staff to the leader is not an impersonal commitment to the office of state but ‘a servant’s loyalty, based on a strictly personal relationship’…In short, it is familial….
Yet he is practising this style of rule at the head of a modern capitalist state. This is an inherently paradoxical combination…
Trump’s version of charisma derives from his capacity to speak a language that..sounds far closer to ordinary, unvarnished home truths than the rote phrases and official euphemisms of every other politician in sight….
Trump instinctively understood that Bannon’s intellectual pretensions were a threat to the purely personal loyalty which is the only basis for membership in the Administration….
The extreme form of hybridity he embodies suggests that it is futile to assign to him any general classification like fascism, authoritarianism or populism, even though he may exhibit traits of at least the third, if not the second—as well as nationalism, racism and sexism…. There is no Trumpian ideology or ‘cause’ to which loyalists might commit themselves when he leaves office. After all, the President’s own political background is firmly rooted in the New York Democratic machine….
Democrats lost non-college-educated white men by 34 percentage points in the midterms, but there are indications that an egalitarian, pro-working-class politics might be able to break through this wall….
One merit of the present Administration is that, despite his own lack of ideological coherence, Trump politicizes everything, thereby undermining the fiction of technocratic consensus and rule-bound behaviour. ”
https://newleftreview.org/II/114/dylan-riley-what-is-trump

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3. CL - January 13, 2019

“Sightings of butt-naked emperors are now no longer newsworthy….
The simultaneous unravelling of the Trump agenda and the Brexit process provides a useful lens through which to understand the trajectories of the past few years in both countries….
Globally, these victories cannot be understood outside the broader rise of the populist right from Brazil to Germany.Locally, they can be misunderstood as an ideological assault, rather than a political and electoral realignment, following the financial crisis….
Trump and Brexit are products of a political and economic crisis. The left needs to locate them in that context and offer a solution for the future, not a lament for the past. ”
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/10/donald-trump-brexitiers-tailspin-left-must-act

It has been said that the Whigs never did recover from the triumph of their candidate Zachary Taylor in the 1848 presidential election. In a few years let’s hope the same will be said of Trump and the Republican party.

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