IN this morning’s Fareed Zakaria’s GPS, French Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron said something simple but very remarkable. In a question about how does France see itself in the world with Trump as the US President, who is critical of NATO and other such coalitions and deals. He said that given the challenge that Europe is seeing from terrorism and Middle East, France and other countries will need to take care of their own interests. Because US is “not consistent” in its policy and not dependable at all.
One of the panelists said something similar about Japan and how they were in panic vis-a-vis China’s rise, who is actually looking at Trump’s Presidency as an opportunity.
Trump took a call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen – who is considered a Taiwanese independence ‘hardliner’ – and created a diplomatic ruckus in US-China relations. And post that the whole series of twitter rants against China made the matters worse.
Marc Thiessen, chief speechwriter to President George W Bush, wrote why this action of taking call that Trump took from Taiwanese President was simply “brilliant”. He gives it a twist from a Rambo-like mindset. Why “suck up” to the Chinese?
Trump promised during the campaign that he would take a tougher stand with China, and supporting Taiwan has always been part of his get-tough approach to Beijing. As far back as 2011, Trump tweeted: “Why is @BarackObama delaying the sale of F-16 aircraft to Taiwan? Wrong message to send to China. #TimeToGetTough.” Indeed, the very idea that Trump could not speak to Taiwan’s president because it would anger Beijing is precisely the kind of weak-kneed subservience that Trump promised to eliminate as president.
Meanwhile China has lodged a complaint. So in some sense, Marc is right. Why should the Chinese go around dictating to the US what it should be doing, when China itself has been building islands in South China Sea and also working to install nuclear reactors on some of the islands. Like Trump said in one of tweets – if China can do what it wants without asking US, why should US be so sensitive to China’s interests?
Sounds like a plan. But diplomacy is not a one-man work. There is a whole machinery which works collectively in one direction. And in this case, China related bureaucracy and also the global partners, have been working with one marching line – we wink at the One-China policy and in lieu of that we do what we want everywhere else.
Now, for a moment, let us forget the US nationalistic tendencies and also how brilliant Trump is. And see that for the Japanese, Vietnamese, French, Germans et al, we have a situation where the US foreign policy is being created over Twitter and not via serious deliberations and parleys with everyone on the same page. But how do you keep everyone on the same page when you are threatening to dismantle the very fora that you do those deliberations at?
When everyone is on his own
When League of Nations failed to forge a unity in Europe and nationalistic tendencies came to the fore on the back of hurt egos of Germans, which Hitler used to the hilt, what happened was sheer disaster – WWII. The collective European entity is an important insurance for world peace. Whenever Europe has gone aggressively nationalist, the world has suffered with unmitigated wars and bloodshed! Whether it was the colonial race or the world wars. That is why UN was important to put a lid on the inherent colonial and autocratic tendencies within the European ethos. It took a devastating war to push Europeans to their humanity and take them beyond their crimes of the past.
We have discussed this in our earlier post How Trump’s NATO ‘Clean-up’ could end American Power, where we discussed how the other nations will start doing once they know that US is not going to play as a global partner anymore. The rise of Atlanticism in the aftermath of WWII created a power monolith but also put a lid to many nationalist movements.
Please notice that the idea is not to stop wars or create a better world in the entire idea of Atlancism. But to create a mechanism where many powers who may have been otherwise opposed to each other, come together to jointly institute hegemony for Atlantic powers.
So what happens when Germans, Austrians, French, and Japanese realize that they are their own against an aggressive China and terror exporting Islamic countries? This will create a situation where every country will create its own partnerships and alliances. Which could run at odds with each other as opposed to one noisy but directed symphony that was tried post-WWII.
Are we seeing the sowing of seeds for the next world war?