If you distilled the complex ideological differences of Election ’16 down to find underlying themes, a theme that would emerge was the contrast of Clinton’s knowledge of the delicate intricacies of global relationships to Trump’s staunch nationalism –white nationalism as it turns out.
Trump voters preferred to think of America in more isolationist terms perhaps, in a world of technology that no longer allows us to operate apart from what’s going on in the bigger world picture. Recent news of Trump’s rookie interactions on the global stage have alarmed journalists. He’s already threatened ‘healthy U.S.-China relations, on which ‘world peace and prosperity’ depend, by behaving like a ‘diplomatic rookie’ on issues like Taiwan, trade, and the South China Sea.’
We haven’t even mentioned anything about Japan, Russia, or Mexico yet. We are inundated with relevant articles on those matters daily.
A Reuter’s article published yesterday details the sensitive position we are in today, where the U.S. has urged Taiwan to increase their defense spending. Taiwan, like Tibet, has a precarious relationship with China, to say the least. For four decades of U.S. – China relations, the ‘One-China’ policy has meant that we recognized Taiwan as part of China.
Turns out this ‘One-China’ policy is particularly sensitive now that President-elect Donald Trump ‘touched off a storm’ by questioning the policy. He said in a television interview that he ‘didn’t feel bound by a One-China policy.’ Trump also had a phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Dec. 2, the first such interaction with a President-elect or president since 1979. This seemingly innocuous act of making a simple phone call drew the immediate criticism of officials in the U.S. and China, worried that it has already harmed foreign relations. One small action has many rippling effects.
‘We urge the new U.S. leader and government to fully understand the seriousness of the Taiwan issue, and to continue to stick to the One-China policy,’ said Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry.
Trump’s actions resulted in a senior U.S. defense official urging Taiwan to increase defense spending to keep pace with the threat from China. Though the United States adheres to the ‘One-China’ policy, we are also an ally and only arms supplier to Taiwan. A year ago, Obama proposed a $1.83 billion arms sale package for Taiwan, not appreciated by China. Now this already sensitive relationship meets the stresses of a totally inexperienced Agent provocateur in Trump.
The advice Trump receives from his chosen advisors does not bode well for future relations either. Trump’s senior policy adviser, Peter Navarro, has been called a ‘China hawk’ by Reuters. He has written books and produced television documentaries on the dangers of China. Navarro has been critical of open trade deals with China and other countries. Forbes staff called his economic advice ‘very dangerous.’ DailyKos called him ‘on the fringe,’ and warned that Navarro’s ideas of imposing tariffs on China as a threat would only start a trade war – at the least.
In the end, the voters (more accurately a minority of the voters) opted for nationalist, populist Demagoguery. They did so partly out of fear and misinformation brought to them by Russian sources. In the end, their nationalist intentions have been naive and dangerous, as the United States has already become more vulnerable to global interests and politics, especially those of Russia, but it certainly doesn’t stop there.
Some Trump voters may have seen the U.S. becoming a more isolated island apart from worldly concerns, but we can clearly see that islands, like Taiwan for example, still have sobering global troubles and interactions.
We must all work in the days ahead to prove that the cooler heads will eventually prevail, and America will set itself back on a more rational, informed path. United as a nation and as an intelligent, optimistic force on the global stage, but proud of our nation just the same. Just don’t expect any of that to come from the man you ingenuously voted for.
Featured image: Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen –Wikimedia Commons