THE BLOG
06/02/2017 06:50 pm ET

Weekend Roundup: Trump’s 'America First' Posture Is The Midwife Of A Post-American World

Rejecting the Paris climate accord while diverging from European allies invites the emergence of an alternative global order.
Trump's moves in Europe and on climate have solidified America's isolated position in the world.
WorldPost Illustration/Getty
Trump's moves in Europe and on climate have solidified America's isolated position in the world.

By pushing his “America First” position to its logical conclusion, U.S. President Donald Trump is paving the way for a new world order in which America is no longer the dominant player.

In rejecting the Paris climate agreement this week, the American president has given birth to an alternative “network of the willing” to battle climate change without Washington’s engagement. California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has emerged as a leader of the new network. In an interview, Brown talks about his initiative to link up the state’s progressive stance on climate change with China, where he is traveling this week, as well as with Europe and subnational entities around the planet. He is also connecting with other states and cities in the United States. At nearly the same moment in which Trump withdrew from the Paris accord in Washington, China and the European Union signed a joint commitment in Brussels to fight climate change by leading the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Trump’s less than lukewarm embrace of NATO and America’s European allies on his first trip abroad last week prompted the sober and usually understated German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to openly question America’s reliability as a partner. “We Europeans truly have to take our fate into own own hands,” she declared. Paradoxically, Trump may have done what Russian President Vladimir Putin couldn’t by forcing Europe to finally get serious about its own security instead of outsourcing it to America. Already, Sylvie Goulard, the new French minister of defense, has vowed to seek a stronger relationship with Germany to build a more integrated European defense pillar. She met with her German counterpart, Ursula von der Leyen, in Berlin this week to discuss a new European security force.

It is a mark of the new era we’ve entered that, however poorly Trump’s trip abroad may have been received by foreign audiences, Americans tended to agree with the president that he “hit a home run.” According to a HuffPost/YouGov poll, 46 percent of Americans approved of Trump’s “handling” of the trip. Thirty-five percent disapproved. Additionally, 93 percent of respondents who voted for Trump in the election supported how he handled the trip.

While the world watches the historic drama of the U.S. unraveling its global leadership role, other currents are roiling beneath the headlines. Venezuela is at the boiling point, with nearly 3,000 arrested during the last two months of explosive protests. Rafael Osío Cabrices and Miguel Santos write that the rage gripping the South American nation will only end when President Nicolás Maduro goes — either through regime collapse or new elections. Lilian Tintori, the wife of imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo López, writes that “we have arrived at the inevitable collapse of a failed model where power is corrupted and held in the hands of an elite few.” If the world doesn’t support the salvaging of democracy in her country, she warns, the consequences will impact all of Latin America. Former Bolivian President Jorge-Tuto Quiroga similarly calls on the international community to act in Venezuela or face a dark future: “Venezuela is at the crossroads: the beginning of the end of this narco-dictatorship or the beginning of a North Korea in the Caribbean.” These photos offer a glimpse into the deadly political unrest wracking Venezuela.

In the introduction of a series on Western Muslim converts releasing during Ramadan, scholar Akbar Ahmed provides insight into why the stories of those who have chosen to adopt his faith could help bridge cultural barriers and eliminate misconceptions at a time of heightened Islamophobia. “Because they don’t fit the bill of ‘Muslim’ and may not be immediately ‘otherized,’ they may be just the perspective those wary of Muslims need to hear in order to understand that we’re just like anyone else,” he writes. 

Finally, it is perhaps of symbolic import that, at the moment when the U.S. is retreating from the world, one of America’s final, great geopolitical strategists, Zbigniew Brzezinski, died at 89. Brzezinski published the last comprehensive essay on his global perspective in The WorldPost, titled “How To Address Strategic Insecurity In A Turbulent World.” In an earlier interview with The WorldPost, he argued that America’s global influence depends on cooperation with China. 

Other highlights this week include:

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CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.


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Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.


ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as theAdvisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei KudrinPascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon MuskPierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel RoubiniNicolas SarkozyEric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter SchwartzAmartya SenJeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry SummersWu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail and Zheng Bijian.


From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony BlairJacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar IssingMario MontiRobert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.

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