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Est. April 5, 2002
June 28, 2018 - Issue 748

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Step By Step, U.S. Is Becoming
More Isolated In World Affairs


"While Trump reigns, it can go in no other direction but down. 
Yet, as has been noted here before, Trump did not cause what
is happening in America, but he is a vile symptom of the
long-term decay of the ideals of America."

It is not as if the founders and a long line of presidents and congressional leaders wanted it to be, but the U.S. is becoming more and more isolated and much of the credit, or blame, lies with the current occupant of the White House.

The United States of America used to be the “leader of the free world,” but Donald Trump, as president, has withdrawn the country from so many multilateral agreements and conventions that it is unrecognizable as a leader of anything. And, he's done it in less than two years, a remarkable feat, considering that it has taken decades for the powers that be to make the nation a vital part of the world community and one to which many countries looked up to for guidance and, often, to settle differences.

The list of his “accomplishments” is long, but it includes withdrawal from the Paris Accord on climate change, collapse of the U.S. role in the G-7 (the rich nations), moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem without even giving a nod to allies or to the adding of fuel to the fire of the Palestine-Israel condition, leaving the Iran de-nuclearization deal without consulting with other nations party to the agreement, and taking credit for dozens of things that would have happened if the White House were unoccupied.

This is such a short list, but it is well to consider one of the primary goals of this administration and the Republican-controlled Congress: Slashing social programs to make up in the federal budget for the widely-panned tax “reform” that, in the end, benefits the rich (himself and his family) and the corporations; along with boosting the military and defense budget by some $100 billion, which brings that budget to about $700 billion. The money has to come from somewhere, so, guess what?, it comes from programs that benefit the average wage-worker and the poor (most of whom work). Trump also is comfortable with the war on workers that has been waged with his comrades among the 1 percent. Remember, during the presidential campaign, he said wages in America were too high and that meant that the country was not competitive in the world economy.

His supporters did not understand what he was saying (and these folks came mostly from the working class and the middle class), because his policies, if you can call them that, have hurt them and their families first. He has made his bones with them by feeding the raw meat of racism and white supremacy and has, in effect, brought the country back to the era of Reconstruction in the South, a time when the only thing that distinguished poor whites from the freed slaves was their racism. He is okay with that, perhaps because it is what is in the deepest part of his being. It isn't a question of “Trump hate,” as those on the right proclaim every day, but it is a question of understanding the depth of his twisted need for adulation and minute-by-minute support and praise. That's what the nation must deal with, making long-range plans to thwart someone in his condition from doing the damage that his “accomplishments” so far have done.

Among his supporters are dairy farmers and cheese makers in the upper Midwest, particularly Wisconsin, who complained just this week that they are going to be devastated by the trade war that Trump started singlehandedly, again without any apparent consultation with his advisers or for that matter with the farmers. They still think he's great, but suffer they will. Blue collar workers and factory workers will be devastated by his trade war with China and with allied countries with which the U.S. has had a close relationship, both trade, cultural, and political. All by himself, Trump has managed to damage or destroy those relationships.

Wage workers who put their faith in Trump's campaign promises are finding that he cares nothing for them, any more than he cares for those who work for him, at the lowest wages, of course. His strutting about over the official low unemployment rate is because he's taking credit for policies that were put in place long before he took office. It's that way with Trump: Tell the nation and the world that he is the greatest and that he can do what no one else could do. Such braggadocio will become old very soon, if it hasn't already among large groups of voters, including workers at every level of pay. Most Americans don't act that way and Trump has made himself the ultimate reality TV star and all that the lowbrow style of entertainment is. He has taken lowbrow down to another level.

His abominable policies on human rights has been exemplified by his treatment of refugees and asylum seekers and his separation of children and babies from their parents, who have been sent to “detention centers” and the children kept in cages. His homeland security secretary has said that keeping the children in those conditions is not a human rights violation, because they are fed, housed, and allowed outside for a short time each day. Others, human rights advocates, charge that this is a continuing human rights violation. There is little regard for human rights in the Trump White House.

This month, Trump's UN representative, Nikki Haley, announced that the U.S. is quitting the United Nations Human Rights Council, mainly because that body has regularly criticized Israel for its treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and in Israel, itself. The claim by Washington is that other members of the council commit ongoing human rights violations themselves and are not cited regularly as they do Israel. Not much has been said about the support and money the U.S. gives to so many of the most egregious human rights violators.

In most regards, Haley is like a mini-me of Trump, denying that there is anything wrong with anything the administration does. She strikes back, just as Trump does, at any criticism of the U.S. or what is perceived as a criticism. For example, she lashed out at the UN once again, when that body released a report that focused on poverty in the world, including the U.S. She wrote on the day after the report, by a UN reporteur, an American, and Huffpost quoted her: “It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America.” Ever the expert in deflecting focus on the flaws of the U.S., she suggested that the UN spend its resources on known human rights abusers like Congo and Burundi. The reason for such an outraged response? Nothing will be done to solve U.S. poverty (40 millions live in poverty) by the Trump Administration, no matter how effective the renewed Poor Peoples Campaign becomes. For Trump and Haley, pointing it out becomes an affront to the person of president and the perfect nation he rules.

Should the UN not include poverty in the U.S. as part of its study of poverty around the world? Why is it against the sensibilities of Trump and Haley to point out what the National Women's Law Center has noted: “More than one in eight women, nearly 16.3 million, lived in poverty in 2016. Poverty rates were particularly high for Black women (21.4 percent), Latinas (18.7 percent) and Native women (22.8 percent). Families headed by single mothers (35.6 percent) were 5.4 times more likely than married couple families to live in poverty. Nearly six in ten poor children (59.5 percent) lived in female-headed families in 2016.” Those numbers seem to point to substantial poverty in the U.S. and, if the UN does not report them, who will do it? Knowing the severity of poverty in the U.S., the nation should see something, a program or policy, emanating from the White House to begin a renewed War on Poverty, instead of their war on the poor. The likelihood of that happening is next to zero, since Trump has taken care of himself, his family, and his fellow billionaires, from his first day as president.

Even something as simple as a set of statistics that point out the serious problem of poverty in the U.S. is denied if it doesn't fit into the peculiar world view of Trump. Unfortunately, that world view is filled with unending wars that sap the wealth and energy of the world's only superpower. That's in addition to Trump's attempt to bully the rest of the world into following his lead. Under this administration, those wars and occupations (the U.S. has a reported 800 bases around the world) are couched in Orwellian language that all that military might is “spreading democracy,” even though Trump has not listed that as a primary goal of his first term.

Spreading democracy through peace and trade, along with fighting the poverty of the world, including the serious issue of poverty in the U.S., has not been the thrust of American policy in a long time. Trump has rejected the principles on which the U.S. purportedly was founded, as evidenced by the rise of the right-wing elements in other countries, where it might be easier to achieve what it appears the president is trying to achieve in this country. The rise of right-wing authoritarian elements in other lands are seemingly following his lead. He let it slip recently, when he noted that when Kim Jong Un speaks, his people sit up and take notice, and said he wished the same thing for the American people. That seems to be the direction in which he is headed.

The shocked response of U.S. allies around the world to the Trump regime, in peace and trade, has set him apart from other leaders. His lack of self-discipline and incompetence in office may endear him to his white supremacist base and others who have supported him out of desperation (recall the growing poverty in the U.S.), but it has continued the isolation of the nation among other nations. While Trump reigns, it can go in no other direction but down. Yet, as has been noted here before, Trump did not cause what is happening in America, but he is a vile symptom of the long-term decay of the ideals of America. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.

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