Lost in the announcement of a formal impeachment inquiry concerning President Trump’s fitness for office; his speech to the United Nations was more of a worry to me than anything else. He spoke in favor of women’s empowerment and religious freedom. Even his warning to immigrants who plan to enter our country without permission, while unusual for the forum, could be called an attempt to avert suffering the indignities of our current border situation. While I might find fault with parts of these policies, my gravest concern was his denouncement of Globalism and his call for more worldwide Nationalism.
There are three important reasons why his words are dangerous. Ending any attempt to see the world as interconnected globally is unrealistic. Extreme nationalism was at the root of two world wars in the 20th century. Finally, his words strengthen Russia’s, perhaps even China’s, ambitions to become the leader of pseudo-democratic nations ruled by Oligarchies.
We cannot turn back time to the place where events in other nations had no effect on the United States. Communication and transportation opportunities ended that possibility at the turn of the last century. Not only trade, but climate conditions and political upheavals create conditions that impact our lives. Idaho has spent at least two decades courting markets for our agricultural and other products overseas. The President talked about Micron’s problems with China’s use of their proprietary technology and intellectual property. How can that possibly be mitigated without thinking globally? We cannot elect government officials who engage in wishful thinking and offer false promises to our citizens.
The President’s call for countries to consider the needs and cultural norms of their people before anything else is empty rhetoric. First, any country which has even a small amount of democratic thinking in their government cannot help but think of their voters first. Dictatorships which are seen to ignore the needs of their people must deal with unrest and, eventually, ouster from power. Venezuela, which the president mentioned specifically, is a good example. While promising a socialist utopia where their oil revenue would end poverty for everyone, the government became a kleptocracy where economic resources disappeared from the public treasury.
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Extreme Nationalism is an old political ploy. A Nationalist convinces whoever is considered the “us” that “they” are the enemy. Fear of other’s actions is the bond that holds disparate interests together. The superiority of the “us” allows governments to act belligerently towards each other and becomes the reason for war and alliances— “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. The United Nations which heard the President’s speech was established to encourage alliance on friendship and mutual interests rather than animosity. Nationalism has proved time and again to produce national turmoil and, often, violence. The constitution’s goal, as noted in part in the preamble, is “to insure domestic Tranquility”. Nationalism should not be a part of our nation’s strategy.
Putin would like to weaken, or even destroy, our representative democracy for two reasons. The first is that there are many people in Russia who are working to strengthen a democratic form of government. He has spent some of the nation’s treasure in thwarting them. The second reason is just as important to Putin’s view of Russia’s place in the world. The European Union, NATO, and many members of the G-20 oppose Russia’s expansionist agenda for the Ukraine and the Balkans. He is also militarizing Siberia in anticipation of climate change melting the ice in the artic sea and establishing a trade route which will include access to oil deposits they seek to claim.
Both the last two concerns also call into question the intents and purposes of the President’s Oath of Office. Nationalism as a policy goes against the Constitution, and his tacit agreement to many of Russia’s aims could be construed as giving aid and comfort to an enemy. At the very least, Russia is not an ally. This is all a subject for another time.