President Barack Obama once called the United States the “one indispensable nation in world affairs.” In typical spiteful fashion, Trump seems determined to prove the former president wrong, even if it means irreparably damaging the country he’s sworn to serve. Since taking office, when he’s not busy golfing, the reality television star has been working around the clock to undermine America’s international credibility and influence.
From his decision not to endorse the crucial Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, to his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, to the more recent Twitter-delivered betrayal of military ally Qatar, Trump has consistently proved he has no interest in maintaining the United States’ reputation or ensuring global stability.
Today, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland blasted Trump in a speech, saying that America has come to “question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership.”
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) June 6, 2017
In failing to stand up to Russia, even after they directly meddled in our election, Trump has shown not only a lack of spine, but a moral turpitude that is almost unparalleled in the annals of the American presidency. His failure to rigorously defend NATO poses a grave security risk not only to Europe, but the entire western world.
Minister Freeland is convinced of the necessity of global American guidance. Unsurprisingly then, she is disturbed by Trump’s shirking of the leadership role the United States has long played on the world stage. In a lengthy speech detailing Canada’s foreign policy goals, she devoted an entire section to the United States.
“Let me pause here and address the United States, directly. As the Prime Minister said last week: Canada is deeply disappointed by the decision by the U.S. federal government to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate.
That said, we will continue to seek opportunities for constructive progress on the environment, wherever we can find them, with our counterparts in Washington and across the great United States, at all levels of government and with partners in business, labour and civil society.
As I have said, we Canadians can rightly be proud of the role we played in building the postwar order, and the unprecedented peace and prosperity that followed.
Yet even as we celebrate our own part in that project, it’s only fair for us to acknowledge the larger contribution of the United States. For in blood, in treasure, in strategic vision, in leadership, America has paid the lion’s share.
The United States has truly been the indispensable nation, Mr. Speaker. For their unique, seven-decades-long contribution to our shared peace and prosperity, and on behalf of all Canadians, I would like to profoundly thank our American friends.
As I have argued, Canada believes strongly that this stable, predictable international order has been deeply in our national interest. And we believe it has helped foster peace and prosperity for our southern neighbours, too.
Yet it would be naive or hypocritical to claim before this House that all Americans today agree. Indeed, many of the voters in last year’s presidential election cast their ballots, animated in part by a desire to shrug off the burden of world leadership. To say this is not controversial: it is simply a fact.
Canada is grateful, and will always be grateful, to our neighbour for the outsized role it has played in the world. And we seek and will continue to seek to persuade our friends that their continued international leadership is very much in their national interest—as well as that of the rest of the free world.
Yet we also recognize that this is ultimately not our decision to make. It is a choice Americans must make for themselves.
The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership, puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course. For Canada that course must be the renewal, indeed the strengthening, of the postwar multilateral order.
We will follow this path, with open hands and open hearts extended to our American friends, seeking to make common cause as we have so often in the past. And indeed, as we continue to do now on multiple fronts—from border security, to the defence of North America through NORAD, to the fight against Daesh, to our efforts within NATO, to nurturing and improving our trading relationship, which is the strongest in the world.”
The Minister went on to demonstrate the courage and international leadership that Trump so sorely lacks by giving a full-throated endorsement of Article 5 of NATO, going as far as to call it the heart of Canadian national security policy.
She also went out of her way to promote feminism and women’s rights. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has in the past proudly referred to himself as a feminist, a term that any moral and legitimate world leader in this era must embrace. Trump’s own misogyny and serial sexual predation are just some of the many inexcusable flaws that make him unfit to lead.
Freeland also directly evoked Secretary Hillary Clinton by saying “women’s rights are human rights,” a famed quote from a speech Clinton gave by the same title before the United Nations.
Freeland’s eloquent, moving speech ended with a sentiment that will hopefully reverberate southward, a call to action not only for her Canadian audience but for an American public which is currently facing the most incompetent leader it has ever had. In reference to those who fought in World War 2 she said:
“They rose to their generation’s great challenge. And so can we.”
Americans can overcome Trump. We can rediscover the courage that has so long been the cornerstone of our national identity. We can remember that the rest of the world matters, that “America First” should refer not to our priorities, but to our role in the vanguard of global leadership.
Once we find that courage – that courage that 73 years ago today stormed the beaches of Normandy to liberate Europe – then and only then can once again assume our role as the one indispensable nation.
The world deserves American leadership, but before we can be a real leader to the world, we must elect a real leader for ourselves.
Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.