It’s not surprising to learn that a world-wide survey of 139 countries has the United States standing at 30 percent approval ratings, an 18-point drop from Obama’s final year. The current White House began its term with then-strategist Steve Bannon expressing intense animosity toward the “globalists.” The president got there by campaigning on the biggest Fuck-You slogan he could find, declaring that any posture his administration would take will be viewed through the lens of “America First.” No wonder, then, China pulled ahead of the U.S. on the goodwill ranking. It will use that survey as a way to influence places like Africa against the U.S.’s interests.
The thing is: Trump is OK with that. He once accused China of “raping” the U.S. economy with cheap goods. A year later, he praised China for outplaying the trade game with the U.S. in an incredible remark:
Right now, unfortunately, it is a very one-sided and unfair [relationship]. But – but – I don’t blame China. After all, who can blame a country for taking advantage of another country for the benefit of its own citizens? I give China great credit … But in actuality I do blame past [US] administrations for allowing this out of control trade deficit to take place and to grow. We have to fix this because it just doesn’t work … it is just not sustainable.
We learned that governing under “America First” means doing or allowing things that are against the American interests. It is pulling out of Trans-Pacific Partnership—a stupid move that signaled to China that the U.S. could betray its allies and ceded parts of its economic future for some minuscule, short-term nationalistic gains. By the way, how are the workers at the Carrier plant in Indiana? Trump promised there would be no lay-offs. That promise lasted a year.
Meanwhile, the “America First” foreign policy, according to Rex Tillerson, means disconnecting U.S. actions from its values:
Our values around freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated – those are our values. Those are not our policies … In some circumstances, if you condition our national security efforts on someone adopting our values, we probably can’t achieve our national security goals … If we condition too heavily that others just adopt this value we have come to over a long history of our own, it really creates obstacles to our ability to advance on our national security interests our economic interests.
This is an outright retreat of leadership. When you signal to the world that you don’t give a shit about their hardship, they will turn to someone who will, like Germany (41-percent), China (31-percent) and Russia (27-percent).