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Editorial: Trump risks making his country isolated with ‘America First’ policy

  • September 27, 2018
  • , The Japan News , 7:26 p.m.
  • English Press

Cooperate with other countries while prioritizing national interests, and make efforts to maintain international order and solve global-scale issues: These are the obligations the leader of a superpower is required to fulfill. Concerns have unavoidably deepened over remarks that are devoid of such awareness.


U.S. President Donald Trump, in his address to the U.N. General Assembly, stated, “We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.” He also advanced his own view that rejecting the interference of foreign nations has been his country’s traditional policy, and made clear once again that he pursues his “America First” policy.


Previous U.S. presidents have shown a recognition that U.S.-centric alliances sharing the values of freedom and democracy have underpinned global stability. It is problematic that Trump, with the midterm elections slated for November, has strengthened his “inward-looking” attitudes and delivered, at the U.N. assembly, a speech that sounded like one made at a campaign rally.


Patriotism and international cooperation do not conflict with each other. If the United States shows enmity toward multilateralism, and sticks to pursuing its own interest, the country could lose the trust of its allies and friends, thus making itself isolated. A cautious eye must be kept on a situation in which China and Russia, catching Washington off guard, could increase their clout.


Short on solid strategies


Trump has criticized harshly such international institutions as the U.N. Human Rights Council, from which the United States has said it would withdraw. It is certain that the decline in the influence of the United Nations — which is supported by multilateral cooperation — will advance further. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres needs to force through reforms of its bureaucratic organization and restore its stature.


French President Emmanuel Macron, who made a speech after Trump, pointed out the importance of the nuclear accord with Iran and of the issue of climate change and argued that “no one can tackle” these issues on their own.


Emphasizing the “win-win” relations between Japan and the United States, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his will to take the lead in maintaining and reinforcing the free trade system.


Trump should seriously take to heart that allied countries have expressed their concern one after another, though different in tones, over his “America First” policy.


Even within the U.S. administration, there are forces trying to put the brakes on the president’s unbridled words and deeds. There could be limits to how much Trump can stick to the stance of prioritizing the national interest.


It is also a matter of concern that Trump’s diplomacy is short of solid strategies, with its highly mercurial nature standing out.


His evaluation of Kim Jong Un, the chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, has changed completely. In his address to the U.N. assembly last year, Trump branded Kim “Little Rocket Man” and even warned of the “total destruction” of North Korea. This year, however, Trump praised Kim, saying “I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage.”


It is a fact that the U.S.-North Korea summit in June has brought about a relaxation in tension, but the solution of the nuclear and missile issues has yet to face a crucial juncture. Trump should hold fast to his standpoint, without taking too optimistic a view, that “The [economic] sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs.”


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