US President Donald Trump delivered a speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, where he uncommonly emphasized the importance of national sovereignty.
"Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, the rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on earth," Trump said. "I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return."
This type of thinking would be worth welcoming if Trump's statements refer to the equality among sovereign nations. It is sincerely hoped that what Trump was advocating can at least drive the US to establish a more equal relationship with the rest of the world.
However, for the last two years the US has not practiced that it wants equal relationships with the international community. Instead, Washington's "America First" policy has been presented to the rest of the world. If most countries - whether they are allies or rivals - were questioned if they feel equal with the US, they would likely answer "no."
Thus, Trump stressed "national sovereignty" in order to avoid fulfilling basic international responsibilities. What Trump really implied in his speech is that the US' sovereignty overrides international rules, higher than any other countries' sovereignty. He wants to have the whole international system revolve around the sovereignty and interests of the US.
The world has seen too many cases where the US sacrifices other countries' interests for its own interests in the past two years. The US has also recently imposed sanctions on other countries much more frequently when compared to the Obama era. Washington has also withdrawn from multiple international organizations and agreements, which has resulted in increasing the cost for other countries to maintain the international order and common interests.
Washington is now claiming that the US has always been "taken advantage of" by China and other countries. Is it really the case, or is the US taking advantage of the rest of the world? One piece of evidence is the fact that the US has always been in the top list in terms of per capita GDP, given its population of 300 million. The US is also the world's largest economy and a leader in technology and military power.
Surely, there are positive aspects as Trump emphasized the idea of national sovereignty in his UN speech. Meanwhile, it is common sense that sovereignty will only play a positive role if it is pre-conditioned on equality, the basic principle everyone abides by. Historically, the concept of sovereignty and equality among nations was born at the same time in the Peace of Westphalia, a peace treaty that first introduced and assured the equality of national sovereignty. Nowadays, the indivisibility of sovereignty and equality bears crucial meanings to the world.
Recently, the US broke some important rules for maintaining the international system and greatly affected the multilateral system - which is a key factor in international peace and prosperity. The achievements publicized by the US are at the expense of many other countries. The US maximized its own interests by hegemony, which will objectively promote the inferiority and barbarization of international relations. The "America First" mindset is a negative approach and the world is seeing this first hand.
It is sincerely hoped that the emphasis on the positive concept of national sovereignty could awaken Washington's reflection on international morality, and liberate it from its current strategic arrogance and egoism. President Trump addressed that the US rejects "the ideology of globalism," but that should not contradict with the US fulfilling its basic international responsibilities. As a country at top of the global economy, the US cannot proper without extensive cooperation with many other countries. Therefore, unilateral winning and winner-take-all strategy - which is the opposite to multilateralism and win-win strategy - will be unrealistic.