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The Amnesia of the U.S. Foreign Policy Establishment

March 15, 2019 in Economics

By John Glaser

John Glaser

Donald Trump is undermining the rules-based
international order
.” The Economist’s
headline last summer summarized a common refrain within
America’s foreign policy establishment. Trump “wants to
undo the liberal international order the United States
built,” Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution warned on Inauguration Day in 2017. Trump could
“bring to an end the United States’ role as guarantor
of the liberal world order,” Princeton professor G. John
Ikenberry wrote.

Trump is certainly hostile to what he sometimes refers to as
“globalism”: multilateralism, free trade agreements,
international institutions, and any international legal regime that
could impose constraints on U.S. power. He is antagonistic toward
allies and treaties, withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate
agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Iran nuclear
deal, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), the UN
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the
UN Human Rights Council.

But those excoriating Trump for his disregard for rules and
norms rarely mention similar, routine violations of this
rules-based order by his predecessors. And while the foreign policy
establishment is firm in its condemnation of Trump’s
“turning away from global engagement,” as Richard Haass
of the Council on Foreign Relations put it, their harshest criticisms seem reserved
for those few sporadic instances in which Trump tries to jettison lengthy and failed military
deployments, as in Syria and Afghanistan, or expresses
insufficient enthusiasm for
permanent overseas garrisons
.

President Trump is not
the first president to weaken the international liberal
order.

The pundits, practitioners, and politicians that make up the
foreign policy establishment have rarely respected the
non-interventionist principles at the core of the United Nations,
an institution exemplifying the liberal rules-based international
order that the United States helped establish following World War
II. Article 2(4) of the UN Charter says “All Members shall
refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of
force against the territorial integrity or political independence
of any state…” According to the Charter, which American
post-war planners helped write, the use of force is illegal and
illegitimate unless at least one of two prerequisites are met:
first, that force is used in self-defense; second, that the UN
Security Council authorizes it.

This prohibition against war is not some trivial aspiration.
Non-intervention is the centerpiece of international law and the
United Nations has repeatedly sought to underline its significance.
In 1965, the General Assembly declared “No state or group of states has the
right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason
whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any state.”
Again in 1970, it unanimously <a target=_blank href="http://www.un-documents.net/a25r2625.htm" …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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