U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly has been feverishly discussed for the last two days. Why wouldn't it be? Without hesitation, without thinking, without reconsidering, Trump said that they have given up on the values that the U.S. has built its reason for existence upon, meaning the globalization doctrine: “We reject the idea of globalism. Around the world, responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty…Moving on, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends.”
However, while he spoke these words, he also called the Venezuelan army to a change of system simply to organize a coup; as he said no to globalization, he also continued to threaten Iran with sanctions; while he said that each country must defend itself, he also took a position that was targeting socialism. For me, it is not globalization that the Trump administration has given up, it is “soft power.” So, it seems that from now we will see an America which uses military power, economic sanctions, economic domination or its influence in the supranational organizations, rather than an America that uses its culture, literature, cinema, art and diplomacy to maintain its influence in the world. In short, the U.S. has been a soft power until today, but it seems that from now on it will be a hard power.
After Trump’s statements, there are people who actually think that the globalization era is coming to an end. They are not wrong for thinking in this way, after all it was the U.S. president who openly rejected globalization at the UN General Assembly; this would mean that the U.S. is going through an existential crisis and even a fool would not do such a thing without a realist basis. Thus, Trump has been taken seriously in general, and the reluctance of the U.S. in the Bosnian war and in the Syrian issue was shown as a sign of this rejection of globalism. Some analysts pointed to Vietnam as the first instance for the dissolution of globalism.
There may be a struggle between the globalists and their opponents; also, Trump’s supporters may seem like the winning side. But, I think those who related Trump’s statements to this and declared the defeat of globalization may want to think again. Because I don’t think the globalization process can be concluded or sociologically reversed in such a relatively short period of time like 10, 20, 40 or 50 years. Because the globalization I know is the name of a historical stage the world is going through, not one Trump’s toys.
Does this mean globalization can never end? Of course it doesn’t. In the history of the world, there have been turning points that changed the flow of history toward a totally different direction; for instance, the transformation process from the traditional ages to the modern ages is a product of such a turning point, but for this to happen, a French Revolution, an industrial revolution, and decades, or even ages, full of upheavals, were necessary. The thing called globalization is also the name of a state the world has reached; on top of that it is such a dominant state that it is one of the characteristics of modernity: global modernity.
In the global world there is a notion called interconnectedness. Roughly we can say that everything is connected to each other and everything exists vis-a-vis in the relationship with its opposite in a dialectic process. The global economy and local economies are inseparable; the global politics and local politics are clearly connected to each other (the United Nations is only one of the platforms where global policies are being made and so it sounds like a joke that Trump was rejecting globalism at this platform); and global culture and local cultures both negate and transform each other. Also, there isn’t such an option to get rid of one and keep the other. Whether we like it or not, this is the way it is.
As far as I know, -I am not talking about political conceptualizations of the infighting in the U.S. like the “globalists and their opponents”- globalism can in no way mean a process in which someone could say “Let’s reject globalism.” Trump signals that the U.S. has been giving up on the “soft power” it has been using since the Second World War-- except there were some instances in which this process was interrupted-- and it is still not clear what will replace it.
Trump building walls on borders, banning immigrants, supporting Israel and regarding Muslims as terrorists, or declaring that they will not be giving foreign aid to any other country, does not mean that globalization is coming to an end. Moreover, forget about a president who only has four years of authority, no one has the power to put an end to globalism. If you want an example: only one of the many factors of the global order, the dollar’s sovereignty, could not be broken by any country, whether it be China, Russia, Europe or Turkey.
In conclusion, building walls on borders, banning immigrants and other bizarre behaviors, cannot put an end to globalism. It can only mean that there is a contradiction with the U.S.’s reason of existence. As you can see, Trump is shooting himself in the foot. I believe we will see this in the next elections.