Daily Editorial: United States vs The World

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We are not ones to meddle in another country’s business, except when that business impacts us directly. Having said that, the decision by the United States of America to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change affects us directly.
As any avid reader of The Daily OBSERVER knows, very often, we cannot understand the foreign policy of our big brother to the North; more so, now that the citizens of that country have elected Donald Trump as their president. As an ally to the United States, Antigua & Barbuda has been at the harsh end of US policy on more than one occasion. In the case of the gambling issue the damage has been inflicted directly. In other cases, such as what has happened and is happening in the banking and financial sectors, we have been part of collateral damage to ensure that the US gets what it wants and ultimately, the best of every deal.
Nations around the world have suffered from the selfish ‘America First’ policy and that country’s recent wave of myopic, faux-patriotism is more about protectionism and nationalism than it is about doing what is in the best interest of America and the globe. This is especially true when we look at the US’ new stance on the environment. Basically, in order to make America great again, the president and his followers have demonstrated that they could care less about their impact on the rest of the world. If the clouds turn black and acid rain falls on little ole Antigua then so what? If toxins are released into the oceans in the hunt for more petroleum and the marine life of a few small islands suffer, who cares? Americans are back to work and pollution and environmental destruction is a small price to pay for the greatest nation in the world to maintain that ‘man in the mirror’ status.
Like the 25 major CEOs that publicly wrote to Donald Trump via a full page advertisement on this matter, we are not tree-hugging zealots that believe that there is no such thing as responsible development, but while the world gasped and displayed shock at President Trump’s announcement, we found ourselves wondering if we were the only ones that were not surprised. A tiger cannot change it stripes, so why would anyone hold out hope that the man who tweeted over 100 times about his skepticism regarding climate change, would change.
Most famously, in 2012 Donald Trump tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Forget the global consensus of scientists, Trump believes that if you flip over the tag on the climate change shirt, it will say “Made in China” like many of the Trump products.
Let’s not forget the kind of empirical evidence that the current President relies on for his scientific conclusions. According to another classic Trump tweet, “It snowed over 4 inches this past weekend in New York City. It is still October. So much for Global Warming.” Meanwhile, every country in the world has signed on to the Paris Agreement except for Nicaragua, Syria and now, the great United States of America.
Syria gets a pass because they are in the midst of chaos and Nicaragua declined because they did not believe that the agreement went far enough, especially as it relied on voluntary compliance. According to Nicaragua’s, lead envoy, Paul Quist, “We’re not going to submit because voluntary responsibility is a path to failure.” Trump’s argument for withdrawing was actually the opposite; he believes that the agreement went too far and was detrimental to US interests.
That is the thing about America’s new President. If the US does not get the better of everyone, in every deal, then it is bad for the US in his and his followers’ minds.  But that point of view is similar to a horse with blinders.  Sure, the horse can see the feed trough and is happy to gorge itself but it is ignorant to the fact that the stable may be burning down all around it. Trump also fails to acknowledge that large, rich countries like America are historically responsible for climate change and little, poorer countries like Antigua & Barbuda will pay the ultimate price.
We praised our government when they rushed to sign the Paris Agreement and in doing so, became one of the first 30 to demonstrate maturity and a commitment to the planet.  It was a proud moment and now, although the United States has withdrawn, we urge them to lock arms with our brothers and sisters and continue the battle against global warming that has already been started. Let this not be like the ill-fated West Indies Federation where “one from ten leaves nought”. In this case, one from 195 still leaves 194. Let us not be deterred.
This latest development is also another good reason why we need to start taking greater care of our environment, ourselves. It may be that there is little we can do beyond maintaining what we have, but if that is the case, then let’s do that. Let us not yield to the overbearing wishes of developers who value profit over everything else and make false promises to lull us into a false sense of security. If we do not value our environment then we cannot criticise others for doing the same. If there is one lesson in all of this then it is, we are and must continue to be the first and last line of defense of our environment.
Looking at it from a wider perspective, it is amazing that the Trump administration, which presides over a country that produces almost 20 per cent of greenhouse gases in the world, found disagreement where traditional enemies like Israel and Palestine (and the entire middle east) found common ground. We may have anticipated the decision but we honestly do not understand it. America, while looking in a mirror, may think that it is heading towards greatness, but if that country were to part the curtain and look outside, it may realise that, on the world stage, the cast of world leaders just became smaller by one member.
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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