Tuesday, June 12, 2018
A forecast about the future of the global commons under Trump’s Presidency
I placed the following post on my FaceBook page on May 9. Now I see, a month later, that I neglected to post it here as well. Since it’s still timely, here it is, unrevised:
First, Trump withdrew our country from the Paris Agreement on climate change, then from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on trade and investment. Yesterday, he rejected the Iran nuclear deal. In a few months, this time to acclaim, he will agree to a peace agreement for the Korean peninsula.
These moves all have two points in common:
(1) They serve the interests of Moscow and Beijing — I’d posit more than the interests of the United States. If there is a Korean peace agreement, it will be more because of Beijing and Moscow than Washington.
(2) Those four moves all serve to undermine the “global commons” — the spaces located outside national jurisdictions and open to all, like the high seas, upper atmosphere, outer space, and cyberspace (plus other stuff depending on who is doing the defining). For decades, this concept, though it almost never makes the news, has been critically important to future-oriented environmental scientists and civil-society activists, as well as to U.S. military planners and strategists (and to NATO).
However, the Trump Admin and its fellow strategists seem deliberately disinterested in the global commons. It is also a concept that Beijing and Moscow do not accept, for it hinders their respective grand strategies.
In sum, the four Trump moves I mentioned up front, in different ways and to varying degrees, will serve to damage the global commons, as a concept and reality, to the benefit of Moscow and Beijing.