Is globalization good or bad? Will it create a kinder, gentler and more equitable world? Or, will nation-states be forced to live under the tyranny of a universal cabal?
According to Randall Schweller, professor of political science at Ohio State University, Donald Trump and his followers see no good outcome from globalization. They believe America would function best as a nation-state. They argue we should exit our role of policing the world and keep our money at home to promote our economy. That also means, no more bringing in cheap consumer goods and outsourcing jobs to low-paid workers overseas. To prove his point, he quotes from a study by the Commerce Department that concludes imported metal degrades America’s industrial base. (“Three Cheers for Trump’s Foreign Policy,” by Randall Schweller, Foreign Affairs, Sept/Oct, 2018, pg. 138.)
Schweller goes on to argue Trump is right to challenge China about our trade deficit and their propensity to steal our intellectual property. As for NATO, he considers it a relic of the cold war which largely benefited Europe. “The United States accounts for 73 percent of the alliance’s defense spending – rather a large amount for an organization with 29 member states and that is focused on European security.” (Ibid pg. 149.)
In sum, Schweller defends Trump’s foreign policy as something other than the ravings of an amateur who lacks a sense of history. He sees Trump’s efforts as necessary to realign American priorities. As for foreign policy, he quotes Henry Kissinger. “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.” (Ibid, pg. 141.)
The goal of keeping America strong and prosperous is one few citizens would reject. But is Schweller right? Is globalization the source of our woes?
My reading of history tells me size has little to do with political dysfunction. Cabals arise for a variety of reasons, largely having to do with inept governments and poor economies Witness Venezuela and Zimbabwe, for example. More importantly, the problems that loom on today’s horizon are too large for any nation-state to solve on its own: Climate change, oceanic pollution, the depletion of clean water, and of course, the good and ill of technology, which has no geographical boundaries.
True, some jobs have been shifted abroad. Because of it, poor nations have begun to lift their people out of poverty. The poor have become consumers, and their demands have created jobs here. That strikes me as good. What strikes me as bad would be to perpetuate a permanent imbalance between rich and poor nations.
Change means disruption. Nation-states may suffer cultural discomfort in a global world. Individuals can no longer assume a common language, lifestyle or religion. But we delude ourselves to think we can reverse the hands of the clock. What’s more, technology is an ineluctable force that will propel us into the future whether we will it or not.
The unknown is a scary place Nonetheless, I put my faith in humans. If we’ve learned anything from the past, it’s that we fare better when we work together