Coronavirus News Asia

Questionable choices shaping the new world order

When Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States in 2016, many anti-war conservatives and realists, including myself, sincerely hoped that it would mark a change for a better – at least in terms of America’s foreign policy and never-ending wars of the past.

Defeating Hillary Clinton by riding the populist wave that demanded a more nation-focused and less world-oriented commander-in-chief was the ideal. Although many bought into Trump’s electoral promises, few have paid close attention to what in a broader sense his policies could mean not only for US citizens, but also rest of the world dependent on the American leadership firmly established after World War II.

Indeed, what we have experienced since Trump came to power is what we could describe as democratic authoritarianism, where by fulfilling populist demands the leader is gathering vast public support and exercising his presidential powers unchallenged.

Although a huge supporter of the idea of the nation-state – its unquestioned importance
to the identity of the people who are living in its borders, their history, tradition and shared language – I do understand that the times of our forefathers are long gone.

The centuries-old human desire to travel to distant lands, trade with people other than our own, boosted by the developments brought with the blessings, as well as curses, of the Industrial Revolution, inevitably pushed our societies toward globalization, where, although our states play a crucial role in our lives, our intensified interaction with outside polities became indispensable for our survival. This has proved to be even more true during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Enlightenment thinkers argued that the purpose of the legitimate state is to provide for the fundamental needs of the people: security, order, economic well-being, and justice…. The pandemic has prompted an anachronism, a revival of the walled city in an age when prosperity depends on global trade and movement of people,” wrote one of the greatest political thinkers of our times, Henry Kissinger, in a recent article for The Wall Street Journal titled “The coronavirus pandemic will forever alter the world order.”

This virtuoso of diplomacy, who stood, among his many other accomplishments, behind the rapprochement between the United States and the People’s Republic of China in the Richard Nixon era, rightly argues that “sustaining the public trust is crucial to social solidarity, to the relation of societies with each other, and to international peace and stability.”

Unfortunately, what we can observe with Trump is something entirely opposite.

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