One View on the Paris Accord Pullout

Well, President Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords and the anti-Trump pundits are in a full tizzy about him doing exactly what he said he was going to do during his campaign.  You can debate the merits of the Paris Accords all you like, and you’ll find people on both sides of the issue, hotly touting their view as the one which will “save the world from a climate cataclysm” or will “finally put America first, dislodging it from being the world’s lapdog for punishing the neo-colonial forces of the world.”

I’d like to stay away from those arguments to look at this issue in a couple of different ways. Trump’s pulling out of the accord is President Obama’s fault. No, don’t get me wrong. I’m not using the Obama administration tactic of blaming the previous president for everything. Obama set the stage for a withdrawal by circumventing the way U.S. treaties are supposed to work. The U.S. constitutional lays out very clearly that treaties with foreign entities must receive Congressional approval. The Obama administration didn’t even attempt to pass the accord through Congress because he knew, as written, it would have never passed. So he signed it as an accord, approved only by the executive branch, which allows the next chief executive to rescind it at will. If it had passed through Congress, President Trump would not have been able to pull out of it without, again, Congressional approval. Perhaps the Obama administration thought that his legacy would remain due to a favorable election outcome in 2016. Well, we all know how that went. The Dems walked away with egg on their face. And now they have a non-binding Paris agreement which falls by the wayside because they didn’t involve Congress.

It’s easy to see why Obama didn’t involve Congress. He knew that the Republican controlled House and Senate wouldn’t have ratified it. But this was his greatest mistake. Ours is a republic, a pluralistic one, a two-party one, which requires compromise, give and take, back and forth wrangling in order to get anything done. Can that be frustrating at times? Of course, but that’s the way the Founding Fathers wanted it. Obama would have been wise to use this tactic in Paris. “Look guys, I’m with you on this. I really am. But you have to understand how my government works. If you want a lasting treaty on climate which is going to mean anything moving forward, we have to negotiate with our elected Congress. No, you’re not going to get everything you want. But if we don’t come together and find an agreement palatable for both parties, this accord could unravel very quickly with a different president who doesn’t hold my views.”

President Obama could have approached the Paris Accords like this. But he didn’t and so the U.S. pulled out. Just like that.

President Trump said in his pull-out speech that he would be willing to renegotiate the Paris Accords in order to find terms more acceptable for the United States. Here’s a response written in one of the articles about the pullout:

“While Trump said the United States would be willing to rejoin the accord if it could obtain more favorable terms, the three European leaders said the agreement cannot be renegotiated, ‘since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economics.'”

And this brings me to my second point of contention about this whole issue. According to these world leaders, “it” (it being the Paris Accords) is a “vital instrument” for our planet … blah, blah, blah. It. Only it. This whole explanation reeks of elitism which I hate more than anything else. Only the accord as they have negotiated it, as they have proposed it, as they have signed, IT and only IT can be “a vital instrument for our planet, societies, and economics.”

A re-negotiated deal could never do that?  Really?

It’s the same old “our way is the only way.” Now their way will unravel because they are unwilling to ponder different possibilities.

Moral of the story: this is politics. If you live in a democracy, you have to work with others. If not, you just have a series of short jaunts in various directions depending on who is in office.

El Cid: A Timely Hollywood Message for This Day and Age – Part I

Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren in a three-hour epic against the breathtaking backdrops of the Spanish countryside. El Cid (1961) is one of Hollywood’s great epics which I finally just watched.

(Here’s the IMDb link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054847/)

It’s highly entertaining and intriguing. I highly recommend it. I’m not going to go into the detailed plot and pick it apart for its acting, but I do want to highlight two powerful messages that came out of the story which are extremely timely for this day and age.

First lesson: honor your leaders, but hold their feet to the fire. El Cid was the Spanish hero who single-handedly kept the Spanish city-states together during the 11th century A.D. When the Spanish king died, El Cid pledged his allegiance to the eldest son. But the youngest son and sister plotted against the eldest and had him killed. The youngest son then took the crown. El Cid suspected that the younger had something to do with the elder’s death. So before the powerful warrior would pledge his allegiance to the new king, he forced the younger to swear to God, calling down death and damnation upon himself if he was lying, that he had nothing to do with his brother’s death. He swore so, and then El Cid became completely loyal to the king – even when the jealous king banished El Cid into the desert – even when the king took El Cid’s wife and children and locked them in prison, he remained loyal to the king. After a siege on the coastal city of Valencia, the joyous crowd nearly forced El Cid to take up the crown, but he refused and says he only had one king. They captured the city in his name.  Finally, the honor, courage, and fortitude that El Cid displayed completely changes the king’s heart, and he even begged for El Cid’s forgiveness.

Takeaway 1: If more people acted with honor and civility toward their leaders, this world would be a better place. Look at the gridlock in Washington and you can easily see how partisan politics has soured the landscape. What would an ‘El Cid’ look like today, in our culture? He would honor the office of the presidency, even if he didn’t agree with the methods or politics of the president. He would show respect to others, and would not try to navigate the political waters to get ahead. His humility would be a lesson, a reflection for others to see their own faults. An El Cid of today wouldn’t have to bad-mouth every politician of the other party on the 24 hour news networks because they could expect cooperation and respect, even in disagreement. An El Cid of today would allow our leaders to see their faults, and ask for forgiveness and reconciliation when they messed up. And El Cid would forgive. Yes, if it seems like El Cid would be the perfect unrealistic person, perhaps so. But we all could use a little more honor, respect, and courage in our lives. It could only make the world a better place.

(Tomorrow, I’m going to look at what El Cid has to say about Christians and Muslims. If you haven’t watched it, please check it out!)