From pressuring the Democrats to approve a budget for the “desperately needed” wall, until getting enough support in the middle-of-the-road election, much has been speculated about Trump’s motivations to justify his actions in recent days. But, from my point of view, there is a more perverse agenda that has not been much discussed in the analysis in this regard.
I will base my hypothesis on recent events surrounding the figure of Trump and his country, the United States. Specially, the separation of immigrant families and the humanitarian crisis that has sensitized the world, and the withdrawal of the United States from the UN Human Rights Council.
And it seems that, in addition to wanting to “purify” his country racially and advocate unilateralism, Donald’s policy seems to want to de-assign responsibilities to the United States.
Think about it for a moment. The United States has been identified since the end of the Second World War, and especially the Cold War, as the example to follow. The effort of presidents from Roosevelt to Obama was to demonstrate that the American Way was the ideal model, where democracy reigned, everybody was accepted regardless of race or condition, the free market economy promoted welfare, friendship and peace between the nations and blah blah blah … all the speech that, apparently, is no longer fashionable.
An impressive international pressure fell on the American country. Uncle Ben said it right, “with great power comes great responsibility,” and the United States did not hesitate to take this responsibility.
Okay, not everything was perfect. There were scandals – and serious ones – such as Reagan’s Iran-Contra Affair, Nixon’s Watergate and more recently, Bush’s War with Iraq and the Invasion of Afghanistan, which called into question American double standards. But finally, the US remained the undisputed leader of international politics, a leadership not only backed by its strong economy or military might, but also by its morality – at least in the discourse – of ensuring human rights.
This worked. When there was a conflict, one could count on the “Responsibility to Protect” of the most powerful nations in the world led by the US.
Well, this same international pressure caused the United States to take care of every aspect of its foreign policy. Wherever it intervened, whatever it did, there would always be a great attention and criticism ready to scandalize any oversight.
That’s a heavy burden! Both domestically and externally. So pay attention, this is where the perversity of the president comes in. Donald is not a fool and his sympathy for authoritarian regimes does not just come from respect – or admiration? – towards their leaders. What do countries like Russia, North Korea or China have in common? They are powerful, they have authoritarian leaders and, above all, nobody reproaches them for violating human rights, so their scope for action is quite broad.
Of course, you can not get away with it just like that, and this is part of the achievements of the now shaky global institutional governance. But, even so, having that leeway – especially when you’re whimsical and you’re used to having things done your way – proved quite attractive to the 45th President.
I think the plan is long term. Psychologically it is conflictive, because it means changing the view we have of the United States. “Goodbye to international responsibilities” is part of the “America First” concept. The direction that the president’s foreign policy is taking goes far beyond isolationism. Little by little, nobody is expecting anything from the United States, be it in terms of human rights or in trade.
It is still pending whether if civil society and international pressure can win the debate – as it happened on Wednesday with the signing of a decree to stop the separation of families – or if finally the president will gain more ground and internal legitimacy that, in the end, is what that he cares most. Can the United States get rid of these responsibilities completely? And more importantly, who will take his place in the Western Hemisphere?
Those two questions are pending to answer…
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