Some on the left and far left side of the political spectrum are weeping, wailing and gnashing their teeth over America’s “loss of world leadership” which they allege occurred during the early days of the Trump Administration.
Among their stated reasons for making this bizarre assertion is the decision by President Donald Trump to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord and his asking our NATO allies to pull their weight in paying for our mutual defense pacts.
The truth is that if America had truly ceded world leadership, many of them would be cheering, not shedding crocodile tears.
They were never comfortable with our role as the dominant global power; the strongest economic, military and cultural power in the history of civilization. They were the “blame America first” crowd Ambassador Jeanne Kilpatrick used to denounce so effectively.
Trump and his new administration have taken us on a path not typically pursued by traditional Republicans, much less Democrats.
As he did during the campaign, Trump has espoused his “America First” philosophy of less foreign intervention and trade deals and more border security.
Although Trump has not done all that he said he’d do, his administration is not yet six months old. However, he has asserted American leadership where his predecessor failed to do so.
One example is Syria. Barack Obama was widely and justifiably criticized for his impotent approach to the Syrian crisis, especially his failure to do anything about the “red line”ultimatum.
His failure to do anything about Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons exposed him as a toothless tiger, willing to make bold pronouncements but unwilling or unable to enforce them.
It was the quintessential speaking loudly but carrying no stick approach.
In the first 100 days of his administration, President Trump was confronted with Syrian aggression against its own people when an apparent chemical attack killed scores of civilians.
Trump acted swiftly and decisively, and to the disappointment of some of his most ardent supporters who want no military actions taken in Syria or elsewhere.
Trump’s quick strike in Syria was viewed by many as a mere show of force rather than part of an overarching strategy. The same was said when he dropped a MOAB, (the Mother Of All Bombs) in Afghanistan targeting an ISIS complex.
Even if these actions were mere shows of force, they are not the actions of a declining power. They are the actions of a nation asserting its leadership, demonstrating its force and showing its resolve.
The notion that pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord somehow marginalized us is a stretch by any accounting. If the Paris Agreement is truly of such significance, it should have been treated like a treaty in the first place.
It wasn’t, because Obama knew he didn’t have the votes to pass it, so it was slid around Congress.
It was and is an agreement of dubious worth which costs American taxpayers a lot while delivering negligible results under even the rosiest scenarios.
The United States was already a leader on climate change before the Paris Agreement was drafted. We steadily decreased our carbon footprint, cutting it by more than 12 percent through innovation and technology.
Trump’s action reaffirms our leadership. The rest of the world understandably wanted the people of the United States to foot the bill while China, now the number one carbon emitter in the world, got a pass.
It’s understandable that they’re not happy about our actions. Going along with this scheme wouldn’t have signaled leadership. Saying “no” to a highly suspect deal does.
Trump has proved himself much more of an interventionist than his campaign rhetoric suggested and some of his supporters wanted. He’s asserted his America First ideal, at least rhetorically.
The just interests of the United States ought to be the guiding principle of American foreign policy.
When our interests are compared to the interests of, say, Russia, there’s not much overlap.
However, their remains a lot of overlap with the interests of the United States and our traditional allies in Western Europe and with Israel. Building on those interests and longstanding friendships will allow America to remain the leader of the free world.