Isms, such as nationalism, protectionism, populism, and isolationism, are spreading like wildfire across the Western world, creating uncertainty about the future of free trade and international economic cooperation. US President Donald Trump and far-right leaders across Europe have emerged as influential voices against globalization, blaming it for the world’s problems. Amidst growing doubts about the future of the globalized international order, China has emerged as a voice of reason.
West: Build walls, not bridges.
In response to the wave of populism that is sweeping through the West, more and more countries in the Western world are adopting an explosive strategy of isolation and protectionism. Last year, Britain decided to exit from the European Union, essentially undoing about four decades of treaties and agreements. The success of Brexit helped usher in the rise of Trump, and has brought far-right politicians across Europe to the forefront of world politics.
In the US, Trump has vowed to take America back like Britain took back control of their nation. “They will soon be calling me MR. BREXIT,” he once tweeted. In his inaugural speech, Trump asserted: “We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs.” “Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength,” he added. After Trump took office, he took steps to roll back globalization. Trump ordered the US to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and agreement; called for the construction of a physical wall on the southern border; stepped up enforcement of immigration laws; and closed America’s doors to immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries.
In Europe, a similar phenomenon is taking place right now in France. National Front leader Marine Le Pen, a front-runner in the French presidential elections, has vowed to take France back if she wins the election. The populist leader is urging her supporters to follow in the footsteps of Brexit and Trump, claiming that France is under the threat of two “totalitarianisms” – economic globalization and Islamic fundamentalism. If elected, Le Pen has promised to withdraw France from NATO’s Integrated Military Command; leave the European Union; contain immigration, especially immigration by Muslims; and expel thousands of foreigners. “The divide is not between the left and right anymore, but between patriots and globalists,” she said in a speech.