Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Trump vs. the Old World Order

Among the articles of faith in the Church of the Liberal Pieties is this: Donald Trump is destroying the liberal world order by downgrading his relationship with the European Union and especially with its Western leaders: Germany, France and Great Britain. The horror if it all!

Now, Jochen Bittner, an editor of the German newspaper Die Zeit explains that Trump has a point. He argues in a New York Times op-ed that European countries have been free-riding on America for decades now. It makes sense that Trump would want to halt to the exploitation.

You have not heard this point of view very often, so it is worth noting:

Mr. Trump’s anger at America’s allies embodies, however unpleasantly, a not unreasonable point of view, and one that the rest of the world ignores at its peril: The global world order is unbalanced and inequitable. And unless something is done to correct it soon, it will collapse, with or without the president’s tweets.

While the West happily built the liberal order over the past 70 years, with Europe at its center, the Americans had the continent’s back. In turn, as it unravels, America feels this loss of balance the hardest — it has always spent the most money and manpower to keep the system working.

The Europeans have basically been free riders on the voyage, spending almost nothing on defense, and instead building vast social welfare systems at home and robust, well-protected export industries abroad. Rather than lash back at Mr. Trump, they would do better to ask how we got to this place, and how to get out.

These nations are being protected militarily by America. They have used the freed-up cash to build lavish social welfare states.

Bittner explains:

All those German politicians who oppose raising military spending from a meager 1.3 percent of gross domestic product should try to explain to American students why their European peers enjoy free universities and health care, while they leave it up to others to cover for the West’s military infrastructure.

As for the G-7, the European Union favors German manufacturers while making it impossible for American companies to compete:

At the Group of 7, for example, the constituent countries are described as all equals. But in reality, the union puts a thumb on the scales in its members’ favor: It is a highly integrated, well-protected free-trade area that gives a huge leg up to, say, German car manufacturers while essentially punishing American companies who want to trade in the region.

China too has been exploiting the good will of the West:

China’s unchecked abuse of the global free-trade regime makes a mockery of the very idea that the world can operate according to a rules-based order. Again, while many in the West have talked the talk about taking on China, only Mr. Trump has actually done something about it.

You may or may not like Trump’s approach, but he is addressing a real problem.


Sam L. said...

We should pick up our forces and return them to the US. Slowly and deliberately. As a wake-up call.

Sam L. said...

Europe needs to put on their big-boy pants and clothes and then ACT the part, not just talk about it.