Divided allies


Rashid A Mughal

DONALD Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements have been sending tremors to the capitals of the world, excepting Russia. One China policy, NATO, European Union, TPT, NAFTA, Iran deal, Israel settlements, two states theory, nuclear disarmament, Soviet expansionism, and all these issues are embroiled and dipped into a deluge of uncertainty. The world is aghast with all kinds of conjectures and raw estimations. It would be good thinking that America is stabilized before it at tempts to stabilize the world. The policies of the Trump administration have now more or less crystallized and communicated unambiguously to the nations around the world so that they could view their relationships with new America. This only could be in the best interests of American people and the people of the world. The utterances devoid of wisdom and vision from America have so far only multiplied the confusion prevailing amongst the Leaders in Europe, Asia ,Africa and Australia.
In the face of new “America first” slogan, “Protectionism” and needless trade wars, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has hinted at forming a group of likeminded leaders-minus America, to forge unity to tackle global issues. On his return from meeting with Trump, he said that the whole world benefited from a strong European Union and that the Bloc and his country needed to lead the international economy in challenging times. Trudeau told the European Parliament that the Union was an unprecedented model for peaceful cooperation in a speech that manifested his distance from both the United States under President Donald Trump, who has questioned the value and future of the Bloc, and from Britain, which has voted to leave it. An effective European voice on the global stage was not just preferable, but essential, Trudeau said “You are vital player in addressing the challenge that we collectively face as an international community”, he told EU lawmakers a day after they backed an EU-Canada free trade deal. “Indeed the whole world benefited from a strong EU”.
Trudeau said that Canada and the European Union shared a belief in democracy, transparency and the rule of law, in human rights, inclusion and diversity. “We know that, in these times, we must choose to lead the international economy, not simply be subject to its whims”, he said, adding both parties had shown they valued trade and a belief that it could bring prosperity to their citizens. With the passage of their trade deal, Canada and the European Union offer a counter to Trump, who has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and wants to rework the North American Free Trade Agreement. For Canada the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is important to reduce its reliance on the neighbouring United States as an export market.
For the EU, it is a first trade pact with a G-7 country and a success to hail after months of protests at a time when the Bloc’s credibility has taken a beating from Britain’s vote last June to leave and France’s got a warm welcome from lawmakers in Strasbourg as it signalled Canada’s distance from both its big neighbour to the south under Trump and from London, where Brexit supporters argue that ties to Britain’s old empire can help expand trade once out of the European Union. Both Canada and the EU, said Trudeau, needed to ensure that their Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), set to enter force in months, worked for people. “If we are successful, CETA will become the blueprint for all ambitious, future trade deals. Trade, he said, must be inclusive, so that every one benefited. “And this agreement…. Delivers just that, Trudeau said.
But I see a halt; America seems enmeshed in its internal mode of politics, President Trump’s own people are viewing his political position; the Flynn collapse in US-Russia equation proved dangerous despite clarifications from both sides, Flynn became rightly or innocently a scapegoat in the two power tussle. On the other hand the most urgent war prone boilers are Kashmir and South China Seas Islands; some observers are looking at America diluting her position on her previously maintained one China policy as a said affair. They don’t, perhaps, favour arming Taiwan. Still on another triangle, Japan is perhaps locating opportunity to strike the hammer, not the anvil. It is against this seemingly collapsing background that I have been stressing development of an exclusive Asian community of civil and uniform streams, Trudeau said.
Russia has called for an end to an outdated world order dominated by the West, even as US Vice President Mike Pence pledged Washington’s “unwavering” commitment to its transatlantic allies in NATO. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov laid out a diametrically opposed global vision and offered “pragmatic” ties with the United States, just hours after Pence vowed to stand with Europe to rein-in a resurgent Moscow. “I hope that the world will choose a democratic world order in which each country is defined by its sovereignty” said Lavrov. On a European road show, Trump’s lieutenants have sought to reassure jittery allies that the Administration will hold fast to existing foreign policies, including maintaining sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.
Hours before Lavrov addressed the Munich Security Conference, Pence told the same forum that the United States will stay loyal to its old fiends. “The United States is and will always be your greatest ally. Be assured that President Trump and our people are truly devoted to our transatlantic union”, Pence said. The US would also not relent in pushing Russia to honor the Minsk ceasefire accords with Ukraine, he said. Diplomacy is a strange game. You do what you don’t say and what you say, you don’t do. So far both Europe and America have stood together and will perhaps do so in future in spite of many foreign policy irritants. Russia, meanwhile, is watching the events unfold and quietly busy cementing and enhancing it’s role in Asia with China on its side.
— The writer is former DG (Emigration) and consultant ILO, IOM.