If there was one message directed straight at Trump at the G20 this year, it was “stop adopting policies to improve your economic position by harming others.” In years gone by, one would never have thought that it would be the President of the Peoples Republic of China who would point out the glaring short-sightedness of such a policy and champion the clarion call for greater multilateralism and global integration.
The US has reverted to a long gone era of the 1930s in which it had determined to pull up the drawbridges and isolate itself from the world. But the biggest difference between then and now is that US isolationism in the 1930s was premised on the US not getting hurt by becoming entangled in global politics or foreign conflicts. This time it is less of a defensive measure, but one borne out of arrogance and selfishness - that the rest of the world can go to hell as long as America gets what it wants. This was the modus operandi of the Trump business empire for decades, and now it is the way Trump runs the country.
Former President Barack Obama is now beginning to seem like the light on the hilltop - having tried to atone for his country’s past sins by starting to reverse the isolation of Cuba, apologising for dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima, making amends for the US role in the Vietnam war, working around the clock for months to ensure a sound nuclear deal with Iran, and caring about kidnapped girls in the far flung reaches of Nigeria.
Trump is determined to unravel all those foreign policy legacies by killing the Iran nuclear deal and forcing others to do so as well. The irony of targeting a country which has never once attacked another country in its history is incredible. For Trump, Cuba must continue to be denied the most basic medicines and essential goods, as well as the right to trade freely with the rest of the world, for no good reason at all.
The colonial message to a desperately poor nation is “starve or submit,” something Cuba has proven it will never do over the past 60 years. But Cuba has proven that even in poverty you can afford to provide your people with free social services, and excellent free health care. Trump has taken a wrecking ball to Obama’s attempts at universal health care without replacing it with a viable alternative.