WASHINGTON — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair criticized President Donald Trump, without naming him specifically, then visited the White House for a meeting.
During a discussion as part of the CSIS Global Development Forum, Blair was asked for his thoughts on the term “globalism,” which Trump denounced at the United Nations last year. In the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump often mentioned his opposition to “globalists” when describing his “America First” foreign policy views.
“I don’t know what it means to be a globalist because I don’t quite know what a globalist is and usually that phrase is used by people who don’t like whoever they are describing as a globalist, but if you describe it as someone who believes it’s important for the West to be internationally engaged, that believes that essentially globalization brings the world together and is a good thing. But of course, you have to deal with its consequences, and make sure its benefits are spread fairly and justly, then I’m absolutely in favor of that,” Blair said on Thursday at the event.
“I think it would be tragic for the West and the world if we sort of close down and start erecting barriers between nations again because, frankly, it won’t work for a start,” he added.
Blair said that technological advancements are giving people “anxiety” around the world because they are afraid of losing “control” and being left behind.
“The future is going to come and the politicians who try and resist it say, ‘no, we want to stop all the migrants and we want to shut down international trade’ and all of this stuff,” he said. “This is not an answer, OK, and there are two types of politicians in the world today — those who ride the anger and those who try and provide the answers and it’s better to try and provide the answers.”
Blair argued that “globalization is not a policy decision” that the G7 or G20 have made.
“It’s driven by people. It’s driven by technology. It’s driven by migration and travel and the world coming closer together and essentially, if you take a step back and look at human progress over the past 30 years, it’s been extraordinary in terms of the numbers of people lifted out of poverty, actually in Africa, which I know we’re going to talk about — reductions in death and killer diseases, the progress that’s being made there but the world is changing fast,” he said.
Speaking about his opposition to “protectionist” trade policies, Blair said that China has lifted “more people out of poverty than any other country in human history because it opened up.”
Blair, the executive chairman of the Tony Blair Institute, visited the White House after the CSIS event. PJM reached out to the Tony Blair Institute to find out who Blair was meeting with at the White House but the institute did not respond.
In a CNN interview last year, Blair described the Trump White House as a “global soap opera.”