My unpopular opinion of 2018

Yeah, it’s worse than you thought.

After the recent G-7 summit, Loren DeJonge Schulman, the Deputy Director of Studies at The Centre for a New American Security (CNAS), stated that the other G-7 countries had finally reached the conclusion that many Americans had reached 6 months ago: Trump’s foreign and domestic policy is not just talk. His trade isolationist policies paired with his military interventionist approach will cause harm to the International Order.

My question for the 6 other G-7 countries besides the US: did it really take you this long?

Did it really take the world on the brink of a Trade War for this realization? I feel like Trudeau just came out from under a rock to realize it’s raining with an imminent flood. Did it really take Trump attacking allies and cosying up to the dictator of a country which arguably has the most egregious human rights record in the world? Did it really take seeing children ripped away from their parents – including from a  mother while breastfeeding – at the US-Mexico border and then transferred to army-style barracks in a renovated Walmart?

Of course, I’m coming from a place of deep frustration, but I feel like a lot of people here in Glasgow have asserted that many Americans like myself are over-reacting. “America was already F-ed up,” they say. “Everything will be fine.” “You went through the same thing with Nixon,” they say. Nixon didn’t have an army of social media supporters that can choose their own reality of lies and spread misinformation. Nixon didn’t have a 24-hour cable propaganda network like Fox News. Nixon’s authoritative tendencies were actually kept in check by a Congress composed of representatives with some semblance of a back bone. We don’t know if Mueller’s findings will be considered by Congress when Trump and Fox News have done such a great job attacking the legitimacy of the investigation.

Maybe it will be fine, but for who? If American democracy significantly degrades or ends, then maybe the majority of people will be okay. I’m sure I will be fine, but some people will not. The most vulnerable will not be fine. People in poverty will be worse off. Immigrants that daily face threats of changes in law that may uproot them from their communities; people of color who still withstand disproportionate and discriminatory police forces: they all will be worse off. Farmers from all over the world will struggle even more if the trade system collapses. Need I go on?

Listen, I know a lot of people are sick of hearing about America. People are sick of Americentrism. People are sick of the complaining. Honestly, I get sick of it too. America is just a country like any other. Other countries are going through much worse. At the same time, the cohesion of major democratic economies can be put at risk by one country. Don’t count on the US being there for the UK during Brexit. You might as well be on your own. Canada, France, Germany, etc. will have to take the lead or China will. What would that mean for countries in the South China Sea or Taiwan? What we’re going through now, that’s what happens when citizens and allies are in denial.

But, is it too late? How long until the major economies start to diminish? How long until we’re on the brink of a nuclear conflict again? Do you only need an “if” to put it out of your mind?

Your eye-rolling muscles must be getting excellent exercise! But, I don’t care if I sound alarmist. I am alarmed. Many Americans have been sounding the alarm for over a year. Everything is worse than even the most pessimistic of us predicted. In the past, when nations in similar turmoil ended up okay, it was because people acted, and other countries diplomatically incentivized improvements. Everything did not turn out okay because people sat there saying it would.


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