Author:Kline, Gary
Position:Suggestion for Global South countries as the U.S. downgrades commitment to democracy, rule of law and human rights - Editorial

Arguably, a tectonic shift of sorts is under way globally as a result of actions taken in the name of the United States by the Trump administration. The president seems determined to sweep away the architecture of the Western Alliance that has been so meticulously built over the past seven decades. So far, these actions do not rise to the level of discernible policies or a coherent replacement strategy. Their consequences will nevertheless be profound and enduring; they may affect relations between all of the worlds countries for generations to come. Countries of the Global South will in some ways enter uncharted territory, with all of the potentials and pitfalls implied therein.

In the name of "making America great again," Donald Trump has withdrawn from or repudiated the Paris Climate Accord, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, initiatives the United States originally championed; abrogated the Iran nuclear deal; harshly criticized traditional allies such as Germany, France, Australia, Mexico, Canada, and Great Britain; denigrated the value of the North American Treaty Organization and the Group of Seven; exhorted countries in the European Union to pull out; demeaned non-Western countries using profane pejoratives; and launched an incipient trade war with our closest allies, based on a claim that the European Union and Canada constitute security threats to the United States.

Meanwhile, he has lavished praise on (first and foremost) Russia's Putin, ostensibly taking him at his word that he did not meddle in US elections in 2016, despite the unanimous findings to the contrary of seventeen intelligence agencies in his own government; and Turkey's Erdogan, the Philippines' Duterte, North Korea's Kim, and other "strong leaders." Under the current administration, the United States has increased military spending and cut funds to the State Department. Bluster and belligerence have supplanted diplomacy. Many career diplomats have left the department and vacancies are being left unfilled.

From such an obvious pattern, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the United States has downgraded its commitment to the core, guiding values of democracy, rule of law, and human rights. Vladimir Putin seems to be reveling in the success of his efforts to undermine the Western alliance and to sow public mistrust and discord abroad, thereby eroding democratic institutions, most especially in the United States...

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