Ian Bremmer of Time magazine declared a “geopolitical recession” due to the election of Donald Trump, and put forth his list of “Top 10 Risks to the World in 2017” with this howler of an opening paragraph:
The triumph of an “America first” foreign policy marks a fundamental break with decades of U.S. exceptionalism and a consensus view in Washington that U.S. international leadership, however flawed and uneven, is indispensable for international stability.
I hate to be the one to break it to him, but “U.S. exceptionalism” and “U.S. international leadership” were traded for a bag of multicultural magic beans by outgoing President Barack Obama, long before anyone thought Trump might run for President.
The Libya disaster, the Syria disaster, the Iran disaster, the ISIS disaster… on and on it goes, in every case reducing America’s international credibility, with such remorseless consistency because Obama intended to sunset American leadership, regardless of the huge cost to Americans and people overseas.
Remember “leading from behind?” Never mind Obama’s hidden agendas and deep-seated, faculty-lounge antipathy to American power, his stated purpose was to make the U.S. less exceptional, to concede its moral stature, and transfer leadership responsibilities to other nations.
As for “international stability,” how is that looking after unlovely but basically pro-American dictatorships were swapped out for Mad Max-style Muslim militias in the “Arab Spring”?
Libya was transformed into a warlords-vs.-terrorists cage match, Europe is bucking under a tidal wave of contemptuous “refugees,” the Syrian bloodbath transformed Russia and Iran into the new Middle Eastern power axis, China began militarizing the South China Sea, and Russia snatched Crimea and tormented Ukraine?
It would be facile to say there’s nowhere to go but up, but President-elect Trump has a fairly low bar to clear when it comes to handling American prestige and global stability better than his predecessor.
The notion that an “America first” stance will automatically make the world less stable is wrongheaded. Nations that look out for their own predictable interests are more predictable than the eight-year globalist dorm-room bull session held by Obama and his friends Ask the Syrian resistance or the Israelis about that.
Number One on Bremmer’s Top 10 list of threats facing the world is an “Unpredictable America”:
The world’s sole superpower was once the international trump card, imposing order to force compromise and head off conflict. Now it’s a wildcard, because instead of creating policies designed to bolster global stability, President Trump will use U.S. power overwhelmingly to advance U.S. interests, with little concern for the broader impact. Trump is no isolationist. He’s a unilateralist. Expect a more hawkish–and a much less predictable–U.S. foreign policy. Allies, especially in Europe and Asia, will hedge. Rivals like China and even Russia will test. U.S.-led institutions will lose more of their international clout.
For good measure, Number Two on the list of global security risks is… America again, because Bremmer worries about China “overreacting” to Trump’s provocations. He worries that 2017 will be a “dangerous year for China, and all who depend on it for growth and stability.”
Not only is the assertion that more “unilateral” foreign policy is less predictable dubious, but “hawkish” doesn’t seem like the right word for Trump’s foreign policy outlook, just as “dovish” would be an absurd adjective for President Barack “Drone Strike” Obama’s legacy of wars burning around the world.
The Libyan intervention was “unilateralist” with respect to Obama’s disregard for Congress, but impeccably “multilateral” in the way foreign leaders and Hillary Clinton badgered Obama into starting the war, and predictably disastrous.
Obama’s “red line” in Syria was supposed to be the multilateral consensus of the international community – in one of his more scurrilous attempts to escape responsibility for his words, he claimed “The World” had drawn the red line against chemical weapons, not him. Gas-spewing dictator Bashar Assad correctly deduced that a red line drawn by “everyone” would be enforced by no one. The ban against using WMD was supposed to be the most predictable, universal principle on Earth, but it proved extremely unpredictable in practice, judging from the surprised expressions on the faces of the gas victims.
America tops the Time hit parade of global threats… but ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the rest of the terrorist carnival of horrors are not on the list at all. The word “Islamist” is nowhere mentioned, in any of its permutations. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an Islamist, makes it in at Number Eight because his “tightening grip” on power will “exacerbate the country’s economic problems and his worsening relations with Europe and his neighbors,” but his ideology goes unmentioned. The great danger for the Middle East listed in the article is disruptive technological change.
Entry Number Three on the list is a potential “power vacuum in Europe,” which mentions the French elections, Brexit, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s precarious position, but does not mention why all those European voters are so upset. The risk to global stability and national security that should be ranked high on this list is migration: that is, mass immigration contrary to the best interests of citizens in the host countries.
The arrogance of denouncing the Trump administration and America as the top “risks to the world in 2017” without even mentioning terrorism, just a few days after the latest mass-murder atrocity, is breathtaking.
People from 14 different countries were murdered at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul by a soldier of ISIS. How’s that for a microcosm of “global risk?”