America First. Then What?

By Hunter Roberts
Opinion Editor


L

ast week, President Donald Trump addressed the United Nations as the leader of the United States for the first time. His speech caused quite a stir in the media with comments such as calling North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un “Rocket Man” in reference to and dusting off the old campaign slogan “America First.” He continued to verbally attack several other countries including Iran and Cuba, accusing the former of knowingly supporting terrorist groups. This seemed a strange message to bring to a meeting dedicated to world-wide unity.
I approached this speech with an air of caution. Aware that I’d be writing this article, I wanted to enter into it with as open a mind as was possible. The beginning of his speech, addressing the hurricanes that have recently ravaged our shorelines and thanking the countries that offered aid, seemed an appropriate response to the situation at hand. From there, unfortunately, it seemed to go downhill. His subsequent reassurances of the country’s ability to recover seemed like a humiliated child brushing off an adult’s concern, insisting on a sense of well-being. His continuing exaggerations of a prosperous America flourishing under his care only bolstered this image. This, however, was not what struck me about his speech. No, it was his call for sovereign unity. That phrase, sovereign unity, is a contradiction, of course. I, however, can think of no better way to describe what I heard in that speech. So indulge, if you will, in a moment of ‘doublethink,’ a concept that will be familiar to any who have read George Orwell’s 1984.
If we were to delve for a moment into the world Trump described you would see a world in which every country looked out for its interests first, putting its interests, its needs, before that of any other, no matter the circumstance. This has caused the nations to grow stronger and more prosperous within themselves and leading therefore to a more peaceful relationship between the nations of the world…. It is here that my ability to engage in ‘doublethink’ founders.
How can a world full of countries that dare to look out only for themselves somehow grow closer together? A world in which countries cut themselves off from one another, regard each other with an unwavering sense of mistrust, and in which they work solely for their own interests is a world that is hard to imagine as a functioning social order. Besides, doesn’t that regime sound familiar? *cough* North Korea *cough*
One could write pages and pages on this subject. Delving into the implications of Trump’s use of the word ‘sovereign’ (the rallying cry of the southern states during the Civil War) or his example of the Constitution as a ‘timeless’ document when its creators anticipated it lasting a mere fifty years. I could discuss the perhaps ill-advised challenges made against North Korea and the repercussions it could have. However, I do not have the word count for that nor you the time. So I leave you with a simple question: if every country to put itself first, who wins?

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