Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

The birth of Trump’s presidency drives the countries of the world to leave their nests
ONO Goro  / Emeritus Professor, Saitama University

December 1, 2016
According to many media reports, the world has been apparently dumbfounded by the quite unexpected election of Donald Trump to the U.S. Presidency. But I feel something is wrong with such a reaction. Whatever the outcome of the election, we should have known that great many Americans were feeling the same way as Donald Trump.

In the post-WWII world, the Unites States the Superpower has acted as the father figure in a family, and the rest of the countries as children. Seen in a favorable light, this father has taken very good care of his family and has been eager to educate his children. But he has also tended to force his own ideas on his children, at times raising his fist to those who resist him. As for his many children, there is quite a variety in both physical size and temperament. Some are complacent under the protective wing of their father. Some quarrel with their siblings. Some dare to oppose their oppressive father. But, all in all, family discipline has been kept because of the father’s strength, which far surpasses that of his children not just physically but also in terms of money and leadership.

However, as the father’s strength shows signs of waning, some of his innumerable children have grown big and strong, beyond the father’s capacity to control. In other words, the father can no longer shoulder alone the responsibilities of managing the whole family. Such being the case, the father begins to worry more about his own future than about his family. As a result, his children are now left to fend for themselves. This is the case not just with those who have in most instances depended on their father but also with those who have at times resisted their father, secure in the belief that if push comes to shove, they can rely on their father’s strength. For some, “leaving the nest” means the start of a journey to a new paradise. For some others, it means being thrown out into the wilderness where danger lurks.
As the policeman of the world, the Unites States has led Pax Americana with the gospel of democracy and capitalism, accepting its role as the sole father figure for the countries of the world. It is historically inevitable that the United States would at some point lose its interest in the world as a whole and in specific countries and regions, and shift its priority back home to its own affairs. This would have happened even without the emergence of President Trump.

What will happen when the United States, having spread this wave of democracy and capitalism, withdraws within itself? Each of the countries of the world will no doubt try to choose the system best suited to its culture, history and stage of development. That said, amidst the massive tide of globalization that nobody can stop, it is impossible for any country to live in perfect isolation. There will have to be exchanges among peoples and countries, and a minimum necessary interface mechanism to enable such exchanges. However, there are such a vast number of issues relating to the multiple, diverse values of innumerable countries that it would be virtually impossible for all concerned to discuss them and reach decisions. Thus arises the role to be played by some major countries after the United States withdraws from the scene.

It is also true that there are a number of countries that cannot immediately sustain or govern themselves. They would have no choice but to turn to the big powers or international organizations for support and protection. At the same time, some regional powers that have been freed from the shackles of the United States would try more vigorously to corral those smaller countries. It is unlikely, however, that they would succeed in oppressively subjugating their opposition forces and last as regional hegemons, as some have feared. This is because in this day and age where information, equipment and weapons are easily obtainable through the internet, even to the extent of arousing the fear of nuclear terrorism, it is no longer possible to contain the rebels by force indefinitely.

In sum, there seems to be no other course for the world but to keep drifting amid confusion for some time until a new equilibrium sets in. I do pray that the leaders and pundits in various countries will cease to be preoccupied with their short-term interests and work together, from the perspective of the whole of mankind, to build a new equilibrium before catastrophe strikes. If I venture a guess as to what that new equilibrium might be, it could be a world in which countries, big, small, strong or weak, stand on their own feet and sustain themselves, respect the cultures, values and the ways of life of others, and complement one another in complex networks of independent and self-governing bodies ranging from families and businesses to local governments and sovereign states.

The writer is Emeritus Professor of Saitama University.

The English-Speaking Union of Japan

小野五郎 / 埼玉大学名誉教授

2016年 12月 1日







一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > The birth of Trump’s presidency drives the countries of the world to leave their nests