Of the many criticisms hurled at President Trump, one of the most frequently heard is the complaint that he is leading a dismantling of something called the international "order."
"Liberal World Order, R.I.P.," was the headline over a post by the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, on the CFR website. Haass writes that, "The weakening of the liberal world order is due, more than anything else, to the changed attitude of the US. Under President Donald Trump..."
A New York Times "news analysis" ran under the headline, "Postwar Global Order Is Attacked From Within."
A Washington Post headline reports, "In Trump, some fear the end of the world order."
One doesn't have to defend everything Trump has done or oppose a strong and engaged American foreign policy to wonder what, exactly, is this "order" Trump is accused of destroying?
Today's New York Times alone carries news of:
On page one, the story of a couple of American 29-year-old vegetarian bicyclists killed by the Islamic State.
Inside the front section, the story of how the vice president of the American-backed government in Afghanistan in 2016 tortured and attempted to rape a political opponent.
On the opinion page, Thomas Friedman's assessment of Italy:
the reckless 2011 French-British-U.S. decision to topple Libyan strongman Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and not stay on to help build a new order in his place, now haunts Italy.
Toppling Qaddafi without building a new order may go down as the single dumbest action the NATO alliance ever took.
It took the lid off Africa, leading to some 600,000 asylum seekers and illegal migrants flocking to Italy's shores in recent years, with 300,000 staying there and the rest filtering into other E.U. countries. This has created wrangles within the bloc over who should absorb how many migrants and has spawned nationalist-populist backlashes in almost every E.U. country....the latest African/Arab flow has come faster than Italian and other European societies can absorb them culturally and politically, and politicians have risen up to take advantage of the backlash and create hysteria
Online, an article in the coming New York Times Magazine — "War Without End" — describing a combat soldier's frustration at mounting American casualties during 2009 in what appears to be a long and misguided American war in Afghanistan. It's an excerpt of a new book by C.J. Chivers, The Fighters: Americans In Combat In Afghanistan And Iraq.
A few days earlier, a stunning Times dispatch had reported on 2,000 American troops in Syria "to protect Manbij, a town with no resources and which few Americans have heard of, from Turkey, a NATO ally."
I suppose it could always get worse. Newspapers focus on bad news, and there was plenty of growth, peace and prosperity after World War II for which the alliances and institutions probably also deserve some credit. But if the fruits of the postwar "order" are actually disorder — ISIS, the Taliban and the long unsuccessful war against them, the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis, the Libyan failed state and refugee flow, the functional loss of Turkey to radical Islam, all of which predate the Trump administration — you can certainly see why Trump and his supporters might begin to wonder whether this so-called "order" is as precious and vital and necessary as its proponents insist.