As Fareed Zakaria has pointed out this week in the Washington Post and on CNN GPS, we now have a Trump foreign policy doctrine, and it is not reassuring for the World. Obviously heavily influenced by Bannon, who many had thought had been relegated to backseat status by McMaster, we have been fooled again. As Trump demonstrates his RealPolitik admiration for authoritarians like Putin, Xi Jinping, Erdogan, and Duterte, more sinister scenarios begin to crystallize.  Trump’s speech justifying the withdrawal of the United States from the COP21 Paris Climate Change Agreement is a frightening exposition of this new Trump Doctrine. It is Trump thumbing his nose at the World. It is the United States against the World, led by a coterie of plutocrats and their money.  The reality is that the evidence points to an ongoing seizure of executive power by Trump that destroys our Constitution in the name of our national security.  The question is what we can do about it. 


Italy, Austria, and France, in that order, are the next dominos likely to fall in the global wave of populist political sentiment. Italy and Austria will both go to the polls on the same day next month, December 4th, for somewhat different reasons, but with both outcomes likely to advance the political forces on the right in Europe. In Austria, it’s expected that Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party will prevail. That would make him the first elected far-right leader in Western Europe since 1945. Italy’s vote is a referendum initially scheduled for the fall. On the table is a package of constitutional reforms that Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has proposed to streamline lawmaking, but it is increasingly being seen a plebiscite on Renzi’s government, which it appears he may lose, causing his government to fall, and creating an opportunity for the far right to form a new anti-immigration government. In the upcoming 2017 Presidential election in France, ultra-nationalist Marine Le Pen is seen as the possible front-runner.


We are witnessing an extraordinary global upheaval, the outcome of which seems very uncertain at best. In my view, it is a populist reaction to globalization, and a dramatic shift in politics around the World, from economic issues to cultural issues. I see globalization as ultimately an inevitable evolution of human culture, but which by its very nature and the acceleration in the pace of change with the World Wide Web, is fomenting unrest and reaction. Marshall McLuhan, the great Canadian visionary correctly predicted the rise of the “global village” in the 1960’s. But neither McLuhan nor we foresaw the backlash against the Internet and efforts by China, Russia, Turkey and other countries to block free access to the Internet. The global economy also has essentially stagnated since the Global Financial Meltdown. This has been a warning of greater issues rising up around the World. Xenophobia, racism, gender issues, freedom of expression, environmentalism, and terrorism have displaced economics as the top political issues. How this all plays out in the “global village” is anyone’s guess.


As we are now on the verge of U.S. Congressional ‘fast track” approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement, and simultaneously a severe challenge to the integrity of the European Union as Greece and the EU cannot seem to agree on terms to avoid a catastrophe, perhaps it is worth stepping back to consider these complex issues from a higher perspective. None of us has concrete answers. One thing is clear: the U.S. position as a global leader is under serious challenge.