When America First Becomes America Alone
The opinions reflected in this OpEd are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of staff, faculty and students of The King's College.
There are cracks in the world. Ironically, those who can mend these cracks are the ones making them bigger.
I am speaking about the current world order which is unraveling at an alarming pace. After World War II, the United States created global institutions, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the United Nations, and the World Trade Organization, to prevent war and promote human rights. According to a March 2012 Harvard Review article, this arrangement has contributed toward a relative global peace.
Columnists and world leaders alike, since President Trump’s election, are now reasonably doubting whether the President wants to maintain what his predecessors built. The United States should not abandon her leadership role as it will cost her more treasure and blood, threaten human rights worldwide, and destabilize the world.
American withdrawal from international organizations will cost her more money and lives than if she protected the status quo. A quick glance at the State Department’s website will reveal current issues it is trying to address, ranging from terrorism to food safety.
Organizations like NATO, according to its website, share the same goals. By leading NATO, the United States is able to address these issues without committing vast quantities of money or personnel.
I should know; I was there.
I was in those meetings this summer where foreign leaders pledged their nation’s money and resources to help solve shared burdens. If America should leave this arrangement, then she would have to dramatically increase both her budget and ranks to simply match the results she is getting now with less of both.
American withdrawal from her leadership role will also jeopardize human rights, an issue she champions, worldwide.
In 2009, President Obama and his advisors decided to join the United Nations Human Rights Council to promote human rights. However, in June 2018, the United States withdrew from the Council almost as quickly as she had joined. Citing the membership of nations like China and Saudi Arabia, both with fairly appalling human rights records according to Human Rights Watch, Ambassador Nikki Haley claimed the United States will still fight for human rights, but she will do so outside the confines of the Council.
American withdrawal will not make the Council any better. Instead, there is now one less vote for genuine human rights.
Finally, an American withdrawal from its current leadership role will destabilize the current peace. Unlike symbolic agreements, such as the Paris Climate Deal, violating the WTO’s charter results in legal penalties like national fines and/or trade restrictions. Therefore, whichever nation dominates the WTO can, according to a July 2018 National Review article, defend herself.
Should America withdraw from the WTO, its leadership would in all likelihood go to China, which would pose a threat to the long-standing world peace since China could ward off the consequences for her actions. According to The Guardian, China could, as some predict, and her leaders have repeatedly threatened, invade Taiwan and annex it. Unlike the sanctions Russia now faces over her actions in Crimea, China would face little real blowback should she dominate the WTO. As such, China would be able to act with a free hand in the Pacific which could lead to a major arms race in that region between the United States and Japan on one side and China on the other.
Those who wish to see the United States withdraw from her leadership role defend their position by citing the cost America has incurred. There is some truth to this argument as the United States pays for roughly 20 percent of the UN’s budget according to its website and 22 percent of NATO’s budget.
Other nations, by comparison, contribute somewhere between less than one percent to 14 percent for both. This is what prompted President Trump to exclaim that Americans were “the schmucks paying for the whole thing.” However, such involvement, though expensive, has allowed America to advance its values of justice and democracy without bloodshed. Such an investment is worth the price.
The United States stands at a crossroads.
Either she can continue on the course she has taken since 1945 or she can abandon her leadership role in the world order. In order to preserve her treasure and blood, promote human rights, and maintain global stability, the United States must remain at the forefront, participating in the active international defense of rights. America must remain as she has stood: a shining beacon of hope and liberty on the world stage.