Assuming that Mr. Trump continues his project to dismantle what is usually referred to as the liberal world order, the security, trade, environment, and a range of international agreements to encourage international cooperation on matters of common concern, at least two options will emerge for his presidential successor.  One is restoration of the multi-national agreements that Mr. Trump has abandoned or sought to destroy.  The other is the invention of a new approach to common problems that lie ahead.

The first approach may be as straightforward, although not simple, as rejoining agreements and arrangements from which he seeks to withdraw the United States.  The Group of Seven, whose La Malbaie meeting he unaccountably and petulantly disrupted, is an instance of a new, more rational president simply saying “sorry, folks, we’re back in the club and looking for ways to work together.”

Although candidate Trump disparaged NATO, though seeming not to grasp what it has been about for almost eight decades, he seems to have been persuaded by U.S. senior military leadership that it is the backbone of U.S. national security, a bulwark against terrorism, and a much more effective security approach to his preferred go-it-alone strategy.

Also, as Mr. Trump is finding out, his simplistic unilateralism concerning trade in Asia, Europe, and the North American continent and belief that trade wars “are easy to win” is slightly more complicated than early 21st century Smoot-Hawleyism.  His self-vaunted negotiating skills seem not to be working in this arena either.

After a current binge of nationalism, xenophobia, and wall building, reality must set in and saner leaders will conclude that there is more to be gained in security, trade, environment, and much else by cooperation and international agreement.

The real issue is whether Americans can find a new generation of statesmen of the caliber of George Marshall, Dean Acheson, and Harry Truman who can convince our democratic allies and others such as China and Russia that maturity has returned to the United States, that we wish to return to an intricate system of international institutions, and even more search for new cooperative ways to address new common problems.

Statesmanship flourishes only in rational eras.

The reality is this.  Globalization is here to stay.  New rules must be devised to make it work fairly.  Nuclear weapons must be constrained.  It is easy to condemn the Iran nuclear agreement for what it did not achieve.  We have yet to see how the Great Negotiator comes up with something better.  The climate is changing.  Polar ice is melting.  Sea levels are rising and will do so more rapidly.  Mass migrations will result.  It is a race between the Trumpian term of office ending and seriousness in limiting carbon emissions returning in time.

The drama of the next few decades resides in the clash of nationalism against these realities, none of which can be resolved by unilateralism in single nations.

The saddest lesson of politics is that those responsible for chaos, catastrophe, and ignorance rarely have to pay the price for their mistakes.  When the wave of unaddressed new realities crash down upon us, Mr. Trump and those who empower him or protect their careers by preserving their silence will be ending their days at a golf course in Mar a Lago or perhaps a few miles outside of Moscow.

2 Responses to “The Race Between Nationalism and Reality”

  1. Anna V. Says:

    In Skolkovo golf club , perhaps, were my daughter play)

  2. LORENZO CHERIN Says:

    A typical sensible piece from Senator Hart. I wonder though is the Trump, Kim love in a new dawn of optimism that some sense of reality has set in , advice taken, or otherwise a fantasy, a show, what we in the uk call, all fur coat and no nickers!

    I believe the Liberal internationalism of norms and usual ways of doing things can be shaken up rather than shattered by radical sensible leaders, Trump isn’t one of these however!!!

    I think we need to see this meeting in the context of the article here, and wonder if is a stroke of good fortune and hard work, by Kim, and China, little input from Trump.

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