Wednesday 15 August 2018

As world order changes, Ireland is right to expand its global reach

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and United States President Donald J. Trump. Photo: Getty Images
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and United States President Donald J. Trump. Photo: Getty Images

Shona Murray

Ireland has unveiled ambitious plans for the State's revised global outlook in the face of Brexit and Trump-era shifting geopolitical alliances.

More pertinently, the plans recognise the pressing need for Ireland to have even stronger trade links and investments in lucrative, emerging markets in the East.

Another unmistakeable motivation behind the strategy is the loss to Ireland of the UK leaving the EU; and the ongoing friction and time-consuming drama that is set to continue for some time to come. Building new alliances and links are essential for Dublin.

Today and tomorrow, British Prime Minister Theresa May will urge feuding Conservatives to unite and prevent her government from being defeated in key votes on its main Brexit bill.

A majority of Mrs May's party, and British parliament in general, are against leaving the EU. Yet a cluster of hard-line Brexiteers, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Minister David Davis, hold a disproportionate amount of sway.

But well before US President Donald Trump came to power or Brexit happened, a quiet realisation existed that non-binding groups like the G7, G20, or even the all-powerful UN Security Council, no longer represent the world today.

If the permanent members of the UN Security Council were to be selected now, a strong argument would exist for a Muslim-majority country to be represented; and it'd be impossible for countries like India or Brazil not to have a seat.

Similarly, in groups like the G7, where Italy is represented but China is not, there is a clear need to rebalance memberships in line with global reality.

And so it only makes sense that there's been an announcement about new Irish embassies in Chile, Colombia, New Zealand and Jordan, and new consulates in Vancouver and Mumbai, as well as a flagship 'Ireland House' in Tokyo to support the expansion into the Asia-Pacific region.

All of the above notwithstanding, the complete disdain and zero-sum approach by Trump requires a strong rebuttal by Ireland and its allies.

While the makeup of the aforementioned groups is closer to the post-WWII order than to today, the international system of rules and laws - be it in human rights, the laws of war, and the development of free trade policies in the name of prosperity - have by-and-large served the world well.

In fact, the only ones who can rejoice at Trump's latest act of recklessness are those who wants to see the West fail.

Irish Independent

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