It is no secret that the multilateral system is going through an extremely delicate time, especially with Donald Trump’s arrival to power in the United States. Historically, Washington has always been resistant to multilateral initiatives, especially those created without its participation, such as the BRICS and even UNASUR.
Positive initiatives resulting from multilateralism have always been seen as threats to US hegemony. However, the new US administration did all it could to reinforce this idea. Trump constantly attacks the United Nations and has already threatened to leave the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), not to mention the agreements from which he withdrew, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
In his assessment, the United States cedes billions of dollars in resources to institutions that do not function properly, from the point of view of the global interests of the United States. Any entity or institution that contradicts or simply differs from the White House perspective is doomed to derision.
President Trump’s slogan “America first” feeds protectionism, creates conflicts, and may even provoke wars. The multilateral system is far from perfect, but it is still better than total anarchy, where everyone does what one wants. The US president, a little over a year in power, does not seem at all worried about the objective impact of his fussy rhetoric.
It is a fact that the construction of a multipolar world haunts the current US administration. Although deeply incoherent, the mere idea of the United States losing prominence in international affairs is enough for Trump to carry out all kinds of attacks.
This stance, which had changed significantly with Barack Obama – the president who reconciled with Cuba, made possible the nuclear agreement with Iran, visited Hiroshima, and advanced the US participation in climate and human rights issues –, now gives a huge step backwards.
If before it was difficult to understand Washington’s scope and methods of monitoring fundamental rights, now there is a significant worsening trend. It is something that affects the current model of democracy and that is presented as a model to be copied by the so-called “pariah nations”.
Multilateralism demands complicity and the US posture denounces a State indifferent to working together on issues such as International Security, Terrorism, Trade and Human Rights, for example. Except when Washington has specific interests and when it can impose the “solutions”.
Marcelo Rech is a journalist, director of InfoRel, specialist in International Relations, Strategies and Policies of Defense, Terrorism and Counterinsurgence and the Impact of Human Rights in Armed Conflicts.