U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to exit the Paris climate accord undermines American leadership in promoting global environmental sustainability. Even worse, it undercuts U.S. credibility in seeking to lead the world in the 21st century.
The U.S. attained global leadership by fighting fascism during World War II. When American soldiers stormed the beaches at Normandy on D-Day, with more than 4,000 killed, this was a proactive move to fight Nazi Germany instead of waiting for a possible attack on the U.S. homeland. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt emerged as a global leader to defend those being oppressed, without claiming "America first." If there was any "America first" back then, it was America taking the lead with sacrifices and commitments.