Thanks, Chris Uhlmann, but the world has had quite enough U.S. 'leadership'

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America's had a good go, Chris, it just didn't work out (Image via @rootwoman)

Despite an ABC reporter's viral video, most of the world is heartily sick and tired of the US-led wars, interventions and proselytising, writes Daniel Safi.

EVER SINCE Donald Trump entered the political fray, his talk of an inward-looking America – "America first", withdrawal or desire to withdraw from certain international agreements, ambivalent language on foreign affairs – has raised the question/argument: Will America under Trump relinquish its global leadership role?

Now, with his administration actioning some of these agendas, this question is becoming ever more pertinent, and ABC political editor Chris Uhlmann’s much-praised attack on Trump encapsulates this critical view of his presidency, answering the question with an emphatic yes.

And while most of us would more or less agree with Chris Uhlmann’s comments, many would also dispute his representation of America’s retreat from "global leadership" as a bad thing. The world has suffered more than enough under U.S. military and political hegemony, and much of the world – even, apparently, certain elements of America’s Right – now understand this and there is a burgeoning desire for real change.

Chris Uhlmann, in that two minute barrage, sadly, made a stand for the old way of conducting politics.  

This old way, for example, says we need to exaggerate and sensationalise the threat North Korea poses, it says we need to excite people’s fears and anxieties, make them think a nuclear attack is an imminent possibility. Why should we do this?

Chris Uhlmann explains [IA emphasis]:

“On the Paris Climate Accords the US was left isolated and friendless, but given that was always going to happen a deft president would have found an issue around which he could rally most of the leaders, and he had the perfect one, North Korea’s missile tests. So where was the G20 statement condemning North Korea, that would have put pressure on China and Russia? Other leaders expected it and they were prepared to back it but it never came.”

Ah, nothing like an external foe to direct our fears outward, divert attention from our own issues and create some unity in an otherwise fragmented political landscape.

This kind of messaging may have been absorbed uncritically by the majority of Western populations up until a few years ago, but unfortunately for the war industry and its advocates, is not so readily accepted now. We know now that the unceasing escalation of rhetoric sets us on a path of war and we are resisting this march — although, perhaps, we could do more.

This old way does not recognise the desires, aspirations and choices of peoples of demonised nations, like Russia and China, whose governments and leaders enjoy far stronger support than the governments of the West. Russia and China are our enemy (for some reason or other) therefore they are "authoritarian", as Chris Uhlmann informed us in his piece to camera, and the views of the hundreds of millions of Chinese and Russian citizens who support their governments do not count. And I guess this is why we need an active U.S. leadership, to militarily install a pro-West dictator who would sing the praises of the U.S. and open the floodgates to exploitative multinationals. Then Chris Uhlmann and journalists like him might grace Russia and China with "democratic" status.

While for many decades much of Europe and Australia has followed the U.S. on its devastating foreign adventures, bringing untold suffering to millions around the world, the American people have been neglected. America is, perhaps, more fragmented now than it ever has been — with a broken criminal justice system, sky-high gun violence, a broken healthcare system, an education system that systemically disadvantages the poor, acute and growing inequality, and infrastructure in many places comparable to that of the Third World.

And while pictures of dilapidated American cities inhabited by the homeless or semi-homeless are not as sexy as pictures of a bloated Kim Jong Un cheering over missiles and explosions, and it is much easier to direct our anger and anxieties towards "authoritarian" Russia and China than the myriad complex issues that are impacting our own countries, we can no longer afford to be distracted by the sensation and muckraking of certain journalistic trends in the West.

While Donald Trump and his administration may not be the answer to the problems facing the West, the old status quo – that much of our media is fighting to maintain – is being shaken by recent events, including Trump’s presidency and if we keep shaking, someone more able may eventually appear.

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