The Power of Our Example


Jennifer Loy

United States domestic policies under President Trump have obvious implications within the US, but internationally as well.  Some nations have publicly decried these beliefs, but interestingly, these governments tend to be strong and its citizens generally safe.  Few of these countries have spoken up for the newer or emerging republics.  Trump’s policies regarding women’s rights, immigration status, the environment, and trade are and will be significantly affecting nations in South Asia.

Presidencies throughout history have had their scandals, but many feel how Trump has treated women in the past, and more recently in current events with former aid Rob Porter are first and foremost in the American psyche.  Nevertheless, while the US watches the #MeToo Movement unfold, women in Nepal are losing their fight on women’s rights.  When former President George W. Bush assumed office, one of his first plans was to institute the “global gag rule.”  Essentially, he withdrew funding for any international organization that provided information or actual abortions.  The impoverished nation was already dealing with a horrific maternal mortality rate of 539 deaths per 10,000 live births.  Former President Obama reinstated this funding and women’s rights dramatically improved per the assistance, as well as the impact of globalization granting a higher standard of living.  By 2015, the maternal mortality rate was reduced to 258 deaths.  “American aid has made a very valuable contribution to women’s health, but these policy reversals undermine it. Nepali women’s welfare is vulnerable to the whims of each new administration.”  As with the US, women’s rights organizations extend far beyond abortion.  They also include menstruation information and sanitary products, birth control options, and reproductive health visits.  Whether one is pro-life or pro-choice, women’s health in general should not be limited.

The pro-life Trump reverted to the Bush model in January, but took it a step further.  Because 120 countries disapproved of the new US stance on Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, Trump retaliated with reduced funding for major UN organizations.  Nepal could lose part of a $5 million grant from USAID which would dramatically reduce the number of trained doctors, nurses, and midwives for three districts. Another reduction includes UNICEF, at 16%.  UNICEF is involved in a variety of child welfare programs such as health and education.  Part of this organization also concerns child brides.  According to the Global Citizen, “India has more than 10 million child brides, the most of any country in the world…”  India, the largest democracy by hundreds of millions, a diverse nation of religions, languages, and histories is striving for equal rights, but it will take time.  Withdrawal of UNICEF support for this education will only make it worse.  The President needs to set aside his ego and realize serious human rights abuses are occurring daily.

A major component of Trump’s campaign was immigration restrictions; this proves true with his presidency as well, whether with resettlement issues or H-1B visas.  Pakistan is an ultra-religious nation, and Christians are often discriminated against.  This is chilling as OpenDoors USA ranks Pakistan the fourth most dangerous nation in the world.  OpenDoors USA continued in their article that in December 2013, a Christian family of four fled Pakistan to Thailand en route to seeking refugee status in the US.  By January 2017, they were approved to resettle in New Mexico.  Shortly after, Trump “issued a controversial executive order suspending all refugee resettlement to the United States for a period of 120 days.”  The family was even considered to represent a rare case for the UN High Commission for Refugees. The president’s so-called Christian views have failed minority families in dangerous countries.

In an ever-increasing virtual world, IT knowledge is a must.  Rogue nations are accused of online crime in everything from fraud to ransomware, but dangerous terrorist organizations like ISIS are also using the internet for profit.  Knowing this, IT jobs are on high demand worldwide.  India has a phenomenal IT generation that could truly benefit the world, but the US may be excluded from this advantage.  Trump’s “America First” agenda might prevent future Indian migration within this field.  According to the LA Times, “India’s army of young tech workers is bracing for new restrictions on a visa program that has represented a path to the middle class for thousands over the last two decades.”  This will hurt both the US and the Indian American dream.

The final US domestic policy that affects South Asia is the environment.  The Paris Agreement, a UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) obviously affects the world.  Many nations are doing what they can to reduce carbon emissions and lessen pollution.  However, there is a small South Asian country that has bested them all.  Bhutan, a landlocked nation in the Himalayas, is the world’s only carbon negative country.  This means that they absorb more carbon dioxide than they produce.  Ecowatch states, “To boot, Bhutan is aiming for zero net greenhouse gas emissionszero-waste by 2030 and to grow 100 percent organic food by 2020. The Himalayan nation is currently 72 percent forested and the constitution requires that no less than 60 percent of it remains forested. It has even banned export logging.”  With Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, one of the only nations in the world not endorsing it, Bhutan’s incredible status may be disrupted.  Part of Bhutan’s uniqueness is that they live according to the Gross National Happiness Index, not a gross domestic product (GDP).  With such a simple but amazing strategy, it will be devastating to see it disappear because of governmental climate change deniers. The consequences of Trump’s increase in tariffs will soon hit the global market.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said, “Look.  You know why we’re the most powerful nation in the world. It’s not just the example of our power, it’s the power of our example.”  The United States has a privileged position of being the most influential country in the world, whether wanted or not.  It must use this status as an example setter.


Jennifer is a Research Associate at Nepal Matters for America.