The isolationists win

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The isolationists win

US President Trump’s UN speech made it evident that America has finally won power

During the late 1930’s, in the aftermath of the great depression and World War I, barely a generation old, there was the rise of an isolationist and non-intervention movement in the US. People who backed such causes, which included celebrities such as aviator Charles Lindbergh and political patriarch Joseph Kennedy, were of the belief that Europe's problems were not US’ problems and while the World War I left the US as a superpower, even President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, one of the greatest globalists, found himself bound to accede to the non-intervention movement. As a result, Roosevelt won the 1940 election, promising not to intervene in the ‘European War’, despite plaintive requests from Winston Churchill. The US did support the UK with obsolete yet expensive weaponry and Ordinance, hastening the eventual bankruptcy of the UK, but until December 7, 1941, and the day that would ‘live in infamy’, the US stayed out of the conflict. There are many ‘what ifs’ that are asked nowadays and alternative versions of history such as the novel and now television show Man in the High Castle that deals with a US defeat in World War II, thanks to the isolationists who favoured compromise even after Pearl Harbour. Of course, we know that America switched on its industrial and technological might, and in purported words of Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the attacks had awoken a sleeping giant. Unfortunately, a large amount of the support for the man who now occupies the building that Roosevelt died in, are the new isolationists. Since 1945 and the end of the World War and through the Cold War, the US has been an internationalist power. Yes, the US Central Intelligence Agency has done some really bad things over the years but on the whole, one should acknowledge the US has been a global force for good.

US President Donald Trump's speech to the United Nations General Assembly, however, highlighted his campaign speech of ‘America First’ and his continual assertions of US ‘sovereignty’ are worrying. Even China, which is quick to use ‘sovereign rights’, especially when it comes to dubious land claims, would not have used that term 20 times. The core white nationalist support of the current US President hailed his speech which appeared more like a stump speech at one of his election rallies than a speech to a global audience. His speech was worrying for countries such as India that are apprehensive of China's rise as well as nations that want the US to maintain the global order. While it appears that Trump has some smart people by his side, people like his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, his speech has set off alarm bells in foreign Ministries across the world. It is clear after this speech that the US cannot be counted upon to intervene in conflicts or even play the role of mediator, let alone counter the rise of global strongmen like Erdogan, Putin and Xi Jinping. At the same time, Trump's speech was laden with contradictions, while the US didn't plan to intervene anywhere in the world, Trump spoke of ‘Rocket Man’ Kim Jong-Un and of issues in Venezuela. Trump’s occupancy of the White House is a victory for the isolationists, a century after they first rose to prominence. But what the impact of this will be in the long-term remains to be seen. Or was this just all political bluster?

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