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Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, Trumping Trump?

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This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.

These days, demonstrations follow the president and his policies the way day follows night. There are the determined protesters who go regularly to the Clarence Dillon Public Library in Bedminster, New Jersey, while the president weekends at the Trump National Golf Club nearby. (Trump who, between 2011 and 2016, tweeted endless criticism of President Barack Obama's golfing, has so far been on golf courses 147 times in his own presidency.) There have also been demonstrators marching on his Mar-a-Lago club near West Palm Beach, Florida. There were those coordinated protests this summer in all 50 states against his immigration and family-separation policies, including one in Washington, D.C. More recently, there were those anti-alt-right counter-protesters who far outnumbered the white supremacists rallying in Washington on the grim anniversary of Charlottesville. And that's just to begin a list of what the opposition to Donald Trump and his world is starting to look like, as the possibility of a "blue wave" in the coming mid-term elections seems to be growing.

Far less attention has been paid to what might be considered the global blue wave that, as TomDispatch regular Dilip Hiro suggests today, seems to be surging across significant parts of the planet, especially in countries that, in the recent past, were America's closest allies. Though still in its formative stage, it might someday leave the global hegemon, the country whose politicians were in the habit of calling it the most "exceptional" nation, in a truly exceptional state -- exceptionally alone on Planet Earth. Tom

Can Donald Trump Unite the World (Against Himself)?
The Rise of an Anti-Trump Movement Globally -- and on His Home Turf
By Dilip Hiro

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One thing already seems clear in the Trump era: the world will not turn out to be the American president's playground. His ultra-unilateralist, rejectionist policies on trade, the Iran denuclearization agreement, the costs of defense, and climate change are already creating an incipient anti-Trump movement globally (and in the United States as well). To a remarkable degree, the countries he has targeted are banding together to oppose him and his policies. That still inchoate but gathering opposition assures that, whatever Donald Trump's view of America may be, it is no longer -- in the phrase coined 20 years ago by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright -- the "indispensable nation." Abroad or even at home, with the president facing increasingly strong headwinds on climate change at the state and local level, we're entering a new world order on the heels of the collapsed American domination of the past three-quarters of a century.

Let's consider the opposition Trump has generated on an issue-by-issue basis.

Cross-Border Trade

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In January 2017, on his first day in office, President Trump promptly withdrew the United States from the long-negotiated 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact, deeply disappointing among others a close ally, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He had assiduously curried favor with Trump as soon as he was elected on and off the golf course. A day earlier in January, Abe had even succeeded in getting his own parliament to approve the agreement.

But in an act by Washington's allies unprecedented in the last seven decades, Abe, along with the leaders of the 10 other countries in that pact -- Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam -- refused to take Trump's executive order as TPP's death sentence. Instead, in a groundbreaking step into a new world, they resumed negotiations on the pact in the Chilean city of ViƱa del Mar.

This March, after months of deliberation, they signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in Chile's capital city, Santiago. For the signatories, it reduces tariffs drastically, while introducing sweeping new trade rules in markets covering half a trillion people on either side of the Pacific Ocean.

This was a landmark event, inaugurating an era in which countries long accustomed to following cues from Washington forged ahead without its participation. In doing so, they rejected Trump's view of trade as a zero-sum game, consisting of winners and losers. Reflecting the common perception of the signatories, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said, "We need to stay on the course of globalization, yet learning from our past mistakes."

Bachelet's view was shared by Abe, who leads the country with the third largest economy in the world. Japan is a key player in global trade. So, too, is the 28-member European Union (EU) whose aggregate gross domestic product ($17.278 trillion) far exceeds Japan's ($4.872 trillion).

Soon after recovering from Trump's TPP exit, Abe decided to revive his country's stalled free trade talks with the EU. Their shared disapproval of the American president's trade policy led the two sides to rapidly overcome their differences. In July 2017, Abe formally agreed to an outline of a free-trade deal with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. By so doing, the EU and Japan, highly developed democracies, made clear their commitment to the liberal, free-trading, rules-based international order, which runs counter to Trump's worldview.

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In July 2018 in Brussels, the European Union and Japan inked the globe's largest free trade deal, the Economic Partnership Agreement. Remarkably, it covers almost a third of the globe's gross domestic product and 600 million people. Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan's minister for economic revitalization, summed up the situation in this way: "The signing of the Japan-EU deal today will show the world once again our unwavering political will to promote free trade." Juncker was even more upbeat. "[The] impact of today's agreement goes far beyond our shores," he said. "We are showing that we are stronger and better off when we work together. And we are leading by example, showing that trade is about more than tariffs and barriers. It is about values, principles, and finding win-win solutions for all those concerned."

For the first time since the end of World War II, Washington's allies in the West as well as the East thumbed their noses at an American president. That made it a truly historic event.

The EU Goes Head to Head With Trump

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Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch (more...)
 

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