Donald Trump tells his loyal base in his rallies that he is a nationalist, and does what’s best for our country. This distinguishes himself from the Obama era, which looked for global cooperation, usually ending in a compromise. I mean putting American interests first really does sound good.. But then something comes along like coronavirus, a terrible contagious disease and we have a crises that needs international cooperation like never before.
The broad drop off in the stock market yesterday was at least in part due to the announcement that the incubation period (time until the disease displays symptoms) of coronavirus could be about 14 days and during that time, the person infected with the virus could be spreading it to others. Previously, it had been reported that the disease could only be spread through close contact, which sounded like good news. France officially became the first European country to be touched by the viral pneumonia, which has already contaminated almost 2,000 people and killed 56 others, mostly in Wuhan. Small number of cases have also been reported in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Thailand, United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Nepal. Yes, the World Health Organization has to be very busy.
My point is this attitude of “We can take care of our own problems” and the rest of the world should do similar, just doesn’t seem to be working on so many levels. I like the saying more over, “What goes around, comes around.” We’ve seen the horrors of climate change in Australia and the immense forest fires in the Amazon forests of Brazil. Our dry periods have become longer increasing our vulnerability to devastating fires. We have seen equally terrifying fires in California and the increase in hurricanes in the Caribbean and Gulf Coast states. Yet, Trump was among other world leaders downplaying the impacts (can that seriously be done!), criticizing Greta Thonberg and others as “prophets of doom.” Constructive steps to working with others was not on Trump’s agenda.
Under Trump, we seem to be involved in a series of trade wars, which result in almost an immediate retaliatory tariffs imposed on the US. Most notably is the current trade war with China. I view the current Phase 1 agreement as simply an agreement to delay the trade war escalation. After the election, should Trump win, things could get very grim as Trump will not be constrained by the need to be re-elected. The US in the past, relied on the World Trade Organization to resolve disputes, which wasn’t always effective. However, this going it alone, with increasingly higher tariffs, seems not only fail, but with real economic consequences for US businesses (primarily agriculture, but also primary materials) and Chinese companies which rely on exports.
The list of what doesn’t work with the nationalistic approach is pretty long. I could add pressuring North Korea to abandon its intent to abandon its nuclear program, has truly backfired. Yes, North Korea had no problem meeting with Trump and agreeing to denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in general terms, but it was all for show. We hardly can expect China’s support as we engage in a trade war with them. The uncompromising position of the US on the electronic firm, Huawei, seems just another bargaining chip, rather than a real security risk, as the Trump administration claims. From Wikipedia: “In September 2019, Microsoft’s top lawyer and president Brad Smith expressed concern about the continued US ban of Huawei products and services. In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, he remarked that the ban shouldn’t be imposed without a “sound basis in fact, logic, and the rule of law”. Microsoft Corporation, which supplies Windows 10 for Huawei PCs, says the allegations by the Trump administration that Huawei is a genuine national security threat to the US are not supported by any evidence.”
And I’ve saved the worst for last – the Iran Nuclear Deal. It appears to be falling apart, and the last thing I want to see, is Iran joining the list of nuclear nations. Iran argues it is no longer bound by the agreement along with inspections and limits on enriched uranium, because the US re-imposed sanctions on Iran. The US will not be able to put pressure Iran through sanctions, the way Obama did, through cooperation of China and Russia. It looks bad.
Nationalism sounds good, but fails really to fix the problems. Globalism may seem at times to be slow, and not fully solve problems, but it at least makes progress in the right direction. Health issues involved in the coronavirus really must be addressed as a global problems. Similarly climate change, trade issues and nuclear non-proliferation (Iran and North Korea at present, there will be more to come) are global in nature, and there isn’t any other choice on how to solve them, except by international cooperation on a very large scale.