Globalism and America First-ism

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United States President, Donald Trump in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly last September, stated emphatically that “We reject the ideology of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.” He went on to say that “America is governed by Americans” and that “responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty not just from global governance, but also from other, new forms of coercion and domination.” Political analysts argued that in President Trump’s mind, it appears that global governance is somehow synonymous to terrorism.
According to them, he is creating false contrasts. The contrast between globalism and patriotism which President Trump wants to create in order to defend his “America First-ism” is a false one. Simply put, globalists are patriots who have a worldview that is not limited to the political boundaries of one state. Globalism means nothing more and nothing less than figuring out how the world really hangs together. In that sense, Benjamin Franklin, with his famous quote advising the 13 rebellious colonies to “hang together”, was the modern world’s first globalist.
In the context of the many challenges the world faces collectively, and which also have a direct impact on all nations individually, including the United States, President Trump’s position is as transparent as it is ludicrous. To him, a narrow devotion to “non-global”patriotism is what legitimizes his ardent pursuit of the national head-in-the-sand strategy that he obviously prefers. Playing such game may appeal to the core of his voter base. But it does nothing to deal with issues such as climate change, epidemiological threats, migration and other matters.
Many American scholars lamented that, by refusing for the United States to play its proper role as an integral part of the change coalition, President Trump is not even doing his own country any favor. His stubborn refusal to deal with real and present challenges only increases the pressure on future United Staes governments to take the necessary actions.
More important and even more insidious, is the fallout that stems from the United States moving from its traditional role as a promoter of reform to a cheerleader of the “bad apple” coalition globally.
Jonathan Hicks of University of New York stated that, that is also why President Trump’s argument which is “Around the world, responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty not just from global governance, but also from other, new forms of coercion and domination”, rings so hollow. Blaming “global governance,” as he loves to do, is downright childish.
On the other hand, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani captured reality in his own speech at the United Nations General Assembly. He said that “Confronting multilateralism is not a sign of strength, rather it is a symptom of a weakness of intellect.”
As regards patriotism, it is important to note that President Donald Trump actually strips that patriotism of one of its core components. Jonathan Hicks noted that under President Trump, United States patriotism evidently no longer includes ”a government of laws and not men,” as Abraham Lincoln proclaimed in his Gettysburg Address. With his ill-guided and ill-constructed efforts to create a strong contrast between “Americans” (good) and “globalists” (bad), President Trump is just channeling Steve Bannon.
Professor Alen Barrow of Cambridge University stated that the underlying suggestion that “globalists” can never be “true”Americans, worse, that they may be traitors to the American cause, is betrayed by the fact that a majority of Americans do not believe in the President Trump worldview. They continue to believe in the validity of Benjamin Franklin’s view that “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately.”
According to Professor Alen Barrow, President Trump and Bannon would have none of that. They favor an approach that turns globalism into a hidden form of anti-semitism, as an analysis in The Atlantic demonstrated. Professor Alen further noted that, the more benign view is that “globalists” in America or other countries have an allegiance not simply to the United States, or only to their native countries, but to the world. Any such internationalist must by definition betray the nation, the argument goes.
In his book “After Europe,” Ivan Krastev points out that the customary political divisions within Western democratic countries, left of center and right of center, have become very shop-worn. Those old-line conflicts are being “replaced by a conflict between internationalists and nativists.”
If this is the case, who then is a “globalist”? According to Ivan Krastev, perhaps it is best to view globalists as “double” patriots. They care about their native countries, but are also mindful of the concerns of other countries’ governments and peoples and more broadly about the way the whole world “hangs together.” And indeed, quite a few globalists are people who may live and work abroad, but they surely aren’t traitors to their homelands or unpatriotic.
Ivan Krastev noted that in the end, President Donald Trump and his followers are not patriots, they are nationalists. As the former President of France, Charles de Gaulle, once put it: “Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.”