Limited vision – maximum harm.
English poet, John Donne writing in the early 17th Century famously voiced the definitive summary of foreign policy:
“No man is an island” he wrote in his Meditation XII of 1624, and he went on to explain “every man is a part of the main, if a clod be washed away by the sea, europe is the less” his thoughts end with some of the greatest writing in the English language “Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Alas I doubt whether anyone in the White House reads dead poets. But we are about to see the rewards of unknowing leadership, wreckless management and self centred insularity and the US, despite enjoying the strongest economy is going to share in the downside of our limited policies. We are at the tipping point.
Most protagonists in the world economic debate tread carfully in public for fear of exacerbating an already dangerous situation. So when Bank Governors talk about cutting back on economic expectations they should be taken very seriously. When the head of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva says “everyone loses in a trade war” adding “Global trade growth has come to a near standstill” then we should sit up and listen. Georgieva went on to describe the legacy of broken supply chains, she envisioned a world split between competing factions – a “digital Berlin Wall” – created by the breakdown of trust and undertanding.
Europe is facing the break up we have discussed for so long now. But Latin America and Africa are confronting collapse and the US is heaping coals to the fire by its ill thought strategies with China and Iran. Pulling out of Syria may provide a photo op but it is also betraying the Middle East and opening the doors to Putin, Erdogan and Assad. In leadership terms we have allowed a baby to get at toys in his cot that are way ahead of his comprehension.
So who will trust us now? Our reputation has long gone, and there are no hard won deals on the table.
North Korea, vulnerable North Korea, has the upper hand over the mighty USA. It has no desire “to engage in sickening negotiations” with us anymore. It repelled The White House attempt at a fresh round of meetings as the demeaning and superficial photo op it really was.
As we push China, Europe, our neighbours, any one else towards economic decline so we are endangering the complex agreements of the past and we are challenging the very sinews that bind nations together . We are imperilling the whole system. History may come to see that the only coordinated impact achieved by this White House may be the synchronised collapse of the world’s economies – and then the bell will toll and it will be our turn.
Have good day, James