“The Greatest Threat to World Peace”: USA?

As an outsider, I prefer not to comment too directly or too often on US internal politics, but Donald Trump’s plans to ramp up military spending and resume the nuclear arms race are not just domestic affairs – they concern us all.

This map, based on 2013 data from a global poll conducted by WIN/Gallup International and designed by reddit user Loulan, is disturbing. It shows that outside North America and the United Kingdom, by far the majority of countries polled saw the United States as the greatest threat to world peace.

The 2013 Gallup report is one of an annual series that polls mostly questions relating to happiness and optimism, but in that year included the question on threats to world peace. The press release for the global reports stated

The US was the overwhelming choice (24% of respondents) for the country that represents the greatest threat to peace in the world today. This was followed by Pakistan (8%), China (6%), North Korea, Israel and Iran (5%). Respondents in Russia (54%), China (49%) and Bosnia (49%) were the most fearful of the US as a threat.

It’s not surprising that Russia, China Bosnia, other Muslim nations and Latin American countries regarded the USA as the greatest threat. Note though, that that view is also shared (albeit to a lesser degree) by Germany, Sweden, Finland and Australia.

The data is admittedly now three years out of date. Since then,  the USA and Iran have reached a degree of rapprochement, and Putin’s military adventures in the Ukraine and elsewhere may have switched American and British views of the greatest threat, from Iran to Russia. On the other hand, a belligerent Trump’s rise to the presidency will not have reduced concerns around the world about the American danger to global peace. If his plans to vastly increase military spending,  resume the nuclear arms race, revoke the Iran treaty and challenge China in the South China Sea become reality, the rest of the world will have even more cause to be concerned. What the world need for greater peace, is more diplomacy, not more arms – yet Trump is planning to cut funding for his foreign service.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has told reporters that Trump’s budget proposals are “dead in the water” and will never be approved by Congress.

We should all pray that he is right.

See also:

A world map showing who every country thinks is the biggest danger to world peace (Gay Star News)

Globalisation, Inequality and the “Widening Trust Gap”

The primary focus of an important article at Harvard Business Review is of course, “business”. However, all business operates inside a social context. The context for this analysis, is globalisation. This has been of immense value to richer people in the developed world, and to Asian and other developing world middle classes. One group that has not benefited particularly, and by falling back in relative terms, is the working class in Western developed countries. (This is very clearly shown in the frequently cited “elephant graph”

Source – Washington Examiner

Our global narrative of progress, the implicit case for embracing change in exchange for its fruits, is being increasingly called into question by economically marginalized groups and populist politicians across the globe. This narrative has rested on three propositions: that globalization is a major driver of growth and prosperity; that technological progress enriches our lives; and that shareholder returns reflect businesses’ contributions to societal progress.

Those who question the continued applicability of this narrative have a case. While globalization has increased aggregate prosperity and reduced inequality across nations, it has also created winners and losers within nations

Source: Harvard  Business Review

This uneven distribution of benefits has consequences, for those who have been left behind – and for both business, and for political conditions. In the UK, and the USA, we have seen the result in the rise of Donald Trump, and the June vote against the EU.  Elsewhere in Europe, there’s been a widely reported rise in support for populist parties.

This is sharply illustrated by what the HBR refers to as a “trust gap”.  HBR includes a graph that shows the widening of this trust gap between 2012 and 2016. Note that although it is the USA that has seen the most dramatic impact of this in electoral politics, the widening is even greater in the UK and in France.

Graphic: Harvard Business Review

Read more:

Trump says inner-city crimes are going up. He’s wrong. | America Magazine

Attempted murder, the police officer told me. That would be the charge if the two men were caught. “We probably won’t catch them,” he admitted, “but if we do, that’s what we’ll put on them.” I was surprised; it was, I said, more a mugging than anything else. “Did they have a gun?” he asked. Yes. “Did they say they were going to use it on you?” Yes. “That’s textbook attempted murder.”

This all happened two decades ago, but of course I remember every detail, in part because the officer’s words made me realize the gravity of the situation. Getting mugged was no big deal in West Philly in 1997, but the possibility that I could have lost my life over $24—that was something else.

A brief recap: I was a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, living a few blocks west of the school. On the evening in question, I was walking down Spruce Street toward campus, thinking about anything but my walk. My uncle had died the night before, and I was on my way to return an overdue book—The Raw And The Cooked, by Claude Levi-Strauss—to the library before I headed to New York the next morning for the funeral. For once, I let my guard down.

Source: America Magazine

Disrupting the Donald | Commonweal Magazine

At a meeting of grassroots activists, faith-based organizers, farm workers, undocumented immigrants, clergy, and several bishops held in Modesto, California, last week, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy gave the most powerful and timely address I’ve ever heard from a Catholic leader.

 

Appointed by Pope Francis to lead the San Diego diocese last spring, McElroy has quickly emerged as one of the most respected intellectual leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States with his incisive essays and speeches on immigration, inequality, the threat of white nationalism, and the church’s obligation to confront Islamophobia. During one session at the Modesto meeting, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, jokingly but accurately called McElroy “the brains” of the U.S. episcopacy. Along with other “Francis bishops” like Cardinal Blase Cupich in Chicago, McElroy is also at the forefront of pushing the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops—in recent years most focused on fighting same-sex marriage and contraception coverage—to demonstrate greater institutional commitment to the breadth of Catholic social teaching and the pope’s priorities as they relate to poverty, inequality, and climate change.

Source: =Commonweal Magazine

Trump’s (Dis)Approval Rating: How Low Can He Go?

This is supposed to be a honeymoon period for so-called President Trump.

Instead,

Gallup approval rating, 12th February, 2017

That’s negative approval at 15%.

Now consider. Since taking office, he’s made a big show of signing executive orders. It’s one thing though, to sign orders – another to have them put into effect. His most high profile order, to halt immigration from seven Muslim countries, has been a car crash. How many others will in fact become effectively implemented?

There are reports that Trump has found that the job of president of a country of 300 million people is more complicated than running his business – and that he is “surprised” to find it so.

Welcome to the real world, Mr President.