Editorial: Taking all his marbles

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It does not portend well for the future – the notion of the United States retreating into a shell from its leadership position in the world. Yet, this is exactly what is happening. In a rather perverse and twisted bit of logic, the world’s most powerful nation is of the mind that by taking all its marbles and going home, it can somehow still remain relevant and influential on the world stage.  The logic escapes us. After all, one would think that Uncle Sam would wish to be at the table when important ‘world-shaping’ matters are being discussed. It is at that table that our good dear ‘Uncle’ could wield his wallet and use his bully pulpit to fashion the world to his liking.
Unfortunately, our petulant ‘Uncle,’ is bent on throwing a hissy fit and abdicating his responsibility as the adult in the room, shaping the world by the strength and force of his ideas.
For those who have not been paying attention, here’s what happened: The United States announced yesterday that it was withdrawing from the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The stated reason for that withdrawal was that the organisation had become a bastion of anti-Israel bias. Of course, for good measure, Israel announced that it too was withdrawing from the organisation.  On any level, this is a blow to one of the world’s most important multilateral bodies. UNESCO’s aim is to promote peace and education, and to preserve the various cultures and cultural/heritage sites worldwide.  We here at OBSERVER media 
can hardly think of a weightier world effort. After all, our world is a decidedly more peaceful place when we can appreciate the wonder and beauty in other cultures, and the stories behind those cultures. Indeed, often times, in examining many of the world’s cultures through the efforts of UNESCO, we have found that there is so much more to unite, than divide us.
Regrettably, our sainted ‘Uncle Sam’ is of a different mindset. In 2011, after UNESCO admitted Palestine as a member, the United States withheld its funding. In other words, the U.S. has not paid any of its UNESCO dues for the past six years. Then when UNESCO denounced Israel’s policies in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the U.S. threw a hissy fit and soundly scolded the world body, retreating further into its isolationist posture. Seems, ‘Uncle Sam’ will have his way or its game over.
This thinking is of a piece with ‘Uncle Sam’s’ unfortunate and divisive decision earlier this year to withdraw from the Paris Climate agreement, as well as its equally con-founding withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Not to mention the threat to renegotiate its responsibilities under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement and to tear up the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal. Bullying and temper tantrums abound because the rest of the world does not quite see things ‘Uncle Sam’s’ way. Yes, our dear ‘Uncle’ is sucking his thumb, and snivelling like a spoiled brat. At this rate, it will not be long before he withdraws from the United Nations itself. After all, Nikki Haley, the strident United States Ambassador to the United Nations, has taken to scolding the world body for its supposed anti-American and anti-Israel bias and its fecklessness.  
Here’s hoping that the great work being done by UNESCO and the other world bodies will not be adversely affected by ‘Uncle Sam’s’ withdrawals. In that regard, we look forward to other wealthy countries stepping up and filling the breach. After all, UNESCO is “Doing a great work, and cannot step down.” Mean-while, even in the areas where we disagree, it is always best to remain seated at the negotiating table. Much more can be achieved when we’re in the same room across from each other. ‘Uncle Sam’, in his wisdom, or lack thereof, does not seem to think so. Hmmm! What ever happened to the maxim that “If you withdraw, you lose interest?”  
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