Tag Archives: Trump

Make the World Great Again Part Two: No Time to Wait

There is little time to dwell on the fundamental flaws of the structure of American politics so this article that will aim to focus primarily on how the rest of the world can proceed following America’s choice to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

We are amidst a global crisis that America has elected to ignore. As National Geographic points out, “Climate Change isn’t a hoax or a scientific conspiracy, it’s a grand challenge.” The average global temperature has risen 1.69°F and we have reached 400 parts per million in average atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is up 216 since 1832. That has taken less than 200 years. Nine out of ten climate scientists agree that “carbon emissions cause global warming”: this should be overwhelmingly obvious proof and leaves a sense of disbelief that, at this stage, anyone could be in denial. Our living is unsustainable and it is necessary, not optional, to take legislative action to stimulate societal change and improve the environmental crisis we are facing.

So, here’s a little note to the man who thinks it’s all a hoax, courtesy of National Geographic:

Humans are most definitely responsible as “no natural cause explains the half-century warming trend”, which has been documented by satellites. This is caused by “human-emitted greenhouse gases” of which the U.S. is the second largest contributor; this forms a “steadily thickening blanket that traps heat at the Earth’s surface” (I learnt this in high school. If I have to know it, then so does the President of the United States). Arctic ice has decreased from 2.78 million of square miles in 1979 to 1.82 in 2016 – just 0.96 in 47 years. Melting land ice raises sea levels and since 1900, there has been a total sea level rise of 8-9 inches which has caused coastal flooding. Should this continue, low lying land, such as New York, will disappear underwater. Extreme weather is far more likely. In 2003, a heatwave in Europe killed 70,000 people; once a 1-in-500-year event, now it is a 1-in-40. There will be an “exponential increase in water and climate related worldwide catastrophes.” There is potential for all this to ignite human conflict. The Syrian Civil war was ignited partly by a historic drought that drove farmers into the city. If the human impact is not convincing, animals are already suffering. There has been a shift in migration patterns and behaviour. There are “1 in 6 species at risk of global extinction if the climate warms by nearly 8°F.” All this factual information is outlined in the April 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine which emphasises the extent of the global crisis with an article that someone should probably forward to the White House, where most of the deniers seem to reside.

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Make the World Great Again, Part One: Trump’s Isolationist Approach to the Climate

In the light of recent decisions on the part of the current U.S. government, it feels more than appropriate – more of a necessity – to focus on the issue of climate change in relation to the current social, economic and political discourse of the United States.

On the 7th June, President Trump announced that the United States are pulling out of the Paris Agreement in what he called a “reassertion of America’s sovereignty”. A reassertion indeed, but a selfish one which will have consequences for the entire world; a mistake, something that even the endless charm and charisma of Leonardo di Caprio could not prevent. Considering what’s at stake, should temperatures continue to rise and pollution levels remain as harmful as they are, it seems to be a relatively easy choice to abide by the rules of the Paris Agreement. Yet here we are looking at one of the world’s superpowers, and largest contributors to the effect of climate change, as they remove themselves from a historic and vital agreement on how to combat an international issue. Must the entire world face the consequences of the U.S. government’s ignorance and pride?

It is an action that embodies Trump’s isolationist approach to foreign policy. Believing the U.S. is better off alone under its own terms with the advantage of making decisions that best serve the country’s individual needs, may make sense for some aspects of American policies, but not this. Not only does it make more sense for the U.S. to remain close to its allies for economic and security purposes, it is also important to remember that the current climate crisis is a universal issue that should be approached in a unified way. All countries will face repercussions and so tackling the issue together is not only preferable, but necessary; all countries must abide by certain rules that the Paris Agreement lays out in order to have even a small chance of reversing the effects that are already in motion. Not only is Trump’s action selfish, it is a severe overestimation of the way the rest of the world views America. Trump’s belief that the U.S. can re-enter the agreement under more favourable terms suggests they are some kind of grand exception to everyone else. This is the wrong time to choose to be arrogant.

Pulling out of the agreement is also a major indication of Trump’s stance on climate change. Obviously he does not think it is as serious as scientists have extensively proven it to be. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but this is more than just a theory and there’s a strong difference between having an opinion and being ignorant. Claiming global warming is a hoax created by China not only shows his inability to be a leader of the free world, but is also a red flag that foreshadows how the current administration will tackle climate change over the next four years. During such a significant period in the effort to combat the rising temperatures, the world’s second largest contributor of carbon emissions is denying their own mistakes and its existence entirely. But this is not a solo endeavour on his part. Trump has appointed a number of key figures into positions of power who share his view of climate change. Alone, he may not have such an extensive influence upon the issue, but he has spread those in denial across his administration. Vice President Mike Pence has revealed that global warming is not a priority for the President and his cabinet. A stand out figure among the climate change deniers surrounding Trump is Scott Pruitt, who was appointed head of the Environmental Protection Agency, a move practically drowning in its own irony. Mazin Sidahmed, a reporter for the Guardian, states that Pruitt has close links to the fossil fuel industry, a major contributor to carbon emissions, although Pruitt himself does not believe that carbon dioxide “is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”

Although Trump claims that being part of the agreement is an economic disadvantage, Sweden has proved otherwise. Two spokespeople on these issues, Nina Ekelund and Isabella Lovin, demonstrate the link between climate action and economic growth by stating that more and more companies are seeing the potential profit in looking to reduce their environmental impact by turning supposed risks into opportunities. For example, Sweden has the world’s highest carbon tax and an extremely strict climate policy, yet Swedish companies have “retained and reinforced their international competitiveness.” More importantly, emissions have decreased by 25%, while GDP has increased by 69%. Ultimately, “companies with a focus on sustainability perform better and have a higher market value than other companies.” This is proof that a shift in focus to green energy can benefit the U.S. in terms of its economic growth and welfare. A further investment in renewables will also provide job opportunities as well as benefitting the environment.

Michael Greshko from National Geographic claims that the decision could make the U.S. an international pariah as it may also affect international cooperation in areas other than just climate change; U.S. foreign relations could be affected on a much broader scale. This is relatively understandable – why would the rest of the world want to align themselves with a nation who selfishly tried to determine the fate of the entire world based on their own preferences. The United States’ chief negotiator at the Paris Agreement, Todd Stern, emphasises that the exit reads “as a kind of ‘drop dead’ to the rest of the world”. Even current U.S. officials state that “ignorance and ideology won out over science and common sense”; which is pretty much the tagline for Trump’s presidential run thus far.

In spite of all this, it must be noted that the decision does not represent the U.S. as a whole and individual states are subsequently taking action in the form of what Nina Golgowski, a reporter at the Huffington Post, has called a ‘climate rebellion’. Hawaii has become the first state to take action by officially adopting the Paris Climate Accord. They have passed two bills which commit to expanding methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the state. Governor David Ige stated “climate change is real, regardless of what others say.” This speaks volumes about the extent to which the current government is successfully representing the beliefs of the United States as a whole, particularly within states who are now choosing to act on their own interests. This has led to the formation of the U.S. Climate Alliance, in which multiple states have committed to the same principles as Hawaii and the Paris Agreement, even if they are not officially a part of it.

Amidst an international crisis, the United States have chosen to distance themselves from the rest of the world. Whatever motivated this move, it was certainly not for the welfare of the environment as Trump emphasised when he claimed the agreement is “less about the climate and more about other countries gaining financial advantage over the U.S.” This entire situation is a drastic misinterpretation and underestimation of the severity of global warming. For an agreement that has stakes which transcend the infrastructures and political positions of any country, the U.S. has still taken it to be about politics and economic prowess rather than the future of the environment and the human race. As to whether a group of politicians, or businessmen, should have such a strong voice in the world of science calls into question how far their influence and control should stretch; in other words, should someone with no experience, training or even education within a very specialist field, be elected to make international-based decisions on behalf of said field? In the case of the U.S., it has already been proven that experience, credibility and occupation are of little concern in job allocations.

Once again, the U.S. becomes a mockery as Trump continues to tear the nation’s credibility to shreds. The rest of the world is not going to standby and wait for him to put his golf clubs down and see the light at the end of the tunnel. There just isn’t time. As for those willing to cooperate in the ‘do-or-die mission’ to save the world, it’s all about trying to #MaketheWorldGreatAgain in the hope we have not yet surpassed the point of no return. As Leo said:

“The world is watching. You will either be lauded by future generations, or vilified by them.”

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Feminism in Trump’s America

On February 6th 2017 Hillary Clinton urged people to “dare greatly and lead boldly” in a speech which has prompted a resurgence of feminist debate over the roles of women in Trump’s America.

In her speech she stated that “the future is female”, eliciting criticism because of her female-centric language — an argument which mirrors those of ‘All Lives Matter’ advocates who criticise the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, and moreover an argument which minimises the experiences of the minority groups in America that have had to fight so hard historically against oppression and discrimination.

Looking back at 2016, we can see a time of thriving feminism. This is evident in all facets of the mass media, from strong female figures such as Beyoncé and Adele making waves in the music industry, to unprecedented strong female representation in television, with shows such as Scandal, Orange Is The New Black and How To Get Away With Murder showing powerful women of colour and women of all sexualities living as equals. For the future of women, representation is arguably the most important thing. If young girls can see people like them leading, learning and succeeding, they will believe that they can do the same.

Already, since his election and subsequent inauguration, President Trump has awakened a backlash narrative. The supposedly ‘dangerous’ liberal agenda has seemingly alienated working-class whites, leading to huge numbers of voters and citizens feeling fed up with political correctness and identity politics — such as feminist and racial justice movements. However, bringing an end to identity politics — something which Trump represents — suggests that the only valid American identity is a straight white male. Trump offers a backward vision of America, restoring the country to a time when complex identities and experiences weren’t acknowledged or recognised. Trump’s election is a clear statement of what many voters in America value: white male supremacy over female ambition, intelligence and competence.

President Trump signed a bill on April 13th 2017 which allows states to individually remove family planning funding from Planned Parenthood, in a move which is directly overturning a rule from the Obama administration which protected funding towards health organisations which provide abortions. Whilst this law does not directly strip federal funding from the organisation, it is a clear demonstration of what Trump’s administration does and does not consider to be important; clearly, the fundamental rights of women to control and care for their own bodies are not essential

People today are rejecting the idea of feminism; but the solution is more, not less. Abandoning the term for the sake of easing in those who deny it is not the answer — it just minimises the efforts of the feminist movement, which has allowed women today to reach the point where they are privileged enough to say we don’t need feminism anymore. We must reach out to and support those who a Trump presidency is making most vulnerable — immigrant women, transgender women, women of colour, lesbian women, disabled women; women seeking abortions, protection from men, or asylum. This is the time to refuse to bow down to Trump’s male supremacist ideals.

It is not only women affected by Trump’s anti-female rhetoric — immigrant men, gay or transgender men, men of colour, any men who refuse to subscribe to President Trump’s traditionalist views on what an American man should be, are all under threat. The feminist movement, needed in American now more than ever to prevent a relapse to the days when women had to fight for suffrage, defends not only the rights of women but also those of men who refuse to conform to the traditional Republican model.

Clinton’s bid for presidency highlighted the gross sexist double standards which were evident throughout the election period, and since then there has been a huge rise in the number of women going into political training programmes to hopefully change the future political discourse. However, women such as these seem to be pushing against a brick wall, as women who have been able to gain top positions in Trump’s administration are rejecting feminism — such as Kellyanne Conway, who in an interview on January 26th called herself a “postfeminist”. This suggests living in a society which has moved on from needing the efforts of a feminist movement, and vilifies the movement by associating it with solely pro-abortion and anti-male rhetoric (a statement which I’m not even going to grace with an argument, because it’s so ignorant and fallacious).

We must not buoy up bigotry — it is not the fault of women that misogyny in America is still so prevalent, and it is not up to women to force men to treat us like valid human beings. The majority of white women voted for Trump, showing just how desperately feminism in America is needed; most of these women were older, religious or without college degrees, and consequently more used to living and operating in societies that are steeped in and dependent on male authority. Women must be allowed the opportunity to see themselves as powerful, capable and independent, something which Trump’s administration is a serious threat to.

When I mentioned to a friend from near Seattle that I was writing an article about this, she described being a female living in Trump’s America as “horrifying” — not something which inspires a lot of hope for the progression of gender equality under Trump’s administration. 50.8% of American citizens identify as female, yet only 19.1% of the House of Representatives are women.

How can America be postfeminist when one in five women are raped on college campuses? How can the feminist movement be outdated when American women earn just 78% of what a man earns for doing the same jobs? And how can women in America expect to feel represented, safe and valued in a nation which willingly votes a man who has been accused of sexually assaulting numerous women; who evaluates women based on their physical attributes rather than their intelligence or characters, and who stated that women who have abortions should be legally punished, into the role of President?

Yet despite this, President Trump has been successful in one area: he has created a new wave of women’s movements worldwide. The women’s marches which took place after his inauguration are representative of the fire that has been lit in the belly of the feminist movement. So whilst women may feel threatened, they fight on, and we can hope that we will see an American future which embraces the feminine.

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What Trump Will Do in Syria

Rarely has it occurred that the president of the United States has not had to deal with international issues. During and since its ascension to global superpower status, the United States has had the ability — and some would argue responsibility — to intervene in other countries’ internal affairs. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States, often at the behest of NATO or the United Nations, has done just that. It has intervened for the sake of stability and humanitarian principles through military means in Somalia, Kosovo and Iraq (the first time, in 1991), and through diplomatic means in North Korea and Iran.

As the Syrian Civil War now rages on into a seventh, bloody year and with more people dying every day, is now up to Donald Trump to decide whether or not to intervene in Syria.

Two destroyed tanks in front of a mosque in Azaz, Syria. © Christiaan Triebert

So far it doesn’t look good. Trump neglected to send a delegation to the recently concluded Astana Peace Talks in Kazakhstan, which took place between Russia and the Syrian government and Turkey and the rebels. Though Trump has said notoriously little with regards to actual policy, he has made statements that would suggest his intentions.

“America First”

Trump made it abundantly clear during his inauguration address that he would put America first. By this he means that American interests would be his top priority. This seems to suggest that Continue reading

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