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    Rising US unilateralism is a bad thing

    Güven Sak, PhD09 December 2017 - Okunma Sayısı: 1207

    Ten years ago, I was in Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day, which marks Israel’s “reunification” of the city in 1967. I got into a taxi in West Jerusalem to go to East Jerusalem. The traffic was heavy, with new checkpoints everywhere. “It has been like this every year,” said my Israeli driver, “reunification, my ass.” Jerusalem was a divided city then, and it is one today. Nobody seems to have told Donald Trump that very basic fact.

    Americans have had a problem in leading the world for sometime now. The Iraq invasion, and later the so-called Arab Spring have been destabilizing our part of the world, a bit like fire eating away at a big log. President Obama’s Syria policy was nowhere near the water hose it was supposed to be – it only made things worse, letting the place descend into a free-for-all proxy war. Leading from behind meant no leadership at all, and it has made the world a more dangerous place.

    Now we have President Trump making it even more dangerous by going to the other extreme. Unilateralism. It seems that the US has stopped trying to lead at all. It has no patience to think about what even its friends want. The powers that built the world as we know it, are now disowning it. Just look at the series of unilateral US decisions imposed on the global community last week.

    On December 3rd, President Trump decided to pull the US out of the UN Global Compact on Migration. The US was at the core of the talks since the UN process begun last April. The objective was to find mechanisms to protect the rights of migrants and refugees by assuring their resettlement and access to employment and education. Just before the results of this 193-country deliberation process were announced, the US pulled out.

    Then on the December 6th, Donald the Trump signed an order to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Another unilateral decision, catching everybody off balance. The US accepted Jerusalem as the capital of Israel about two decades ago, but no one attempted to move the US embassy before an Israeli-Palestinian settlement, which was wise. Trump’s decision is not.

    There are about 244 million international migrants — people living in a country other than where they were born — in the world today. Of these, almost 66 million are forcibly displaced migrants, and their numbers are rising. It’s easily the worst refugee crisis since WWII. This is a global situation, and a global situation definitely requires a global and multilateral answer. But the US has decided to pull out of the UN initiative of Global Compact. Not that it is a solution, but it was a multilateral attempt at easing the conditions of forced migrants.

    Like the Jerusalem decision, the global compact decision will strengthen the position of extremists worldwide. Both will increase terror threats to all of us. The Jerusalem decision will make things harder for a Middle Eastern ASEAN to take shape in the future, if you ask me. Our neighborhood needs more commerce, more discussion on container routes and more investment deals, instead of more destruction. Netanyahu has found a strong ally to start a third intifada and made our region more insecure. Trump’s decision is destructive, not constructive. Why? Because it is unilateral.

    I wrote in December 2016. “When I was a kid, Fidel Castro was a symbol of a backlash against globalization. Now we have Trump. This is beyond anything we could have imagined in my times. If Castro’s Cuba provided the occasional pothole along the road, Trump is the drunk driver sitting next to you. Welcome to the age of global reckless driving.” Rising US unilateralism is a major sign of global reckless driving. Two bad decisions in one week. What happens when the frequency increases?

    This commentary was published in Hürriyet Daily News on 09.12.2017

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