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America is no longer world leader, so who should Thailand follow now?

Jan 16. 2018
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Three foreign affairs events of last week mark a watershed in global politics – these being the Iran nuclear deal crisis,

President Trump’s cancelled visit to the UK and the condemnation of Trump by the UN for his racist remarks about African countries. It has become apparent that the people of the United States have elected as president a man who is temperamentally unfit for office, perhaps even mentally ill. The US now seems to stand almost alone in the world, its one remaining unquestionable friend being Israel. This has all taken less than a year to achieve, and there are three more years of the Trump presidential term to go. There is plenty of time for things to get even worse.

There is now a clear separation of European and US values, for Trump is not a dictator – he could only be elected to office by a people that generally shared his values and who were drawn to his personality. President Trump is therefore no longer leader of the free world for one reason: the American people became tired of leading it and so chose a president not interested in doing so. Therefore, there will be no turning back; this process is inevitable. Already we can see the UK, Germany and France working hard together to fill the leadership vacuum. We can no longer talk simply about Western values any more. We are now living in a multipolar world, the poles being the US, Europe, Russia and China, with other poles developing over time.

The so-called American Century, which could be said to have started with the US involvement in World War I in 1917, is coming to an end, only accelerated by the Trump presidency. Mark Twain famously said that “history does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme”. Empires usually fall because of a collapse in the moral foundations on which they are built – this happened to Rome, to Great Britain, and to the Soviet Union. There is no reason why it should not happen to America’s Empire of Influence, whatever its present economic or military power, which happens anyway to be diminishing, just as Britain’s did before it gave up its empire.

What should Thailand do in all this? If the history of empires is any guideline, it should seek to align itself with the pole in the moral ascendancy, which is clearly Europe. Yes, Europe is a long way away, but forget all competitors – Europe is now and will continue to be the only show in town. Choose others at your peril!

Andrew Phillips

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