Don­ald Trump’s per­ni­cious “Amer­ica First” poli­cies

The Denver Post - - OPINION - By Greg Dobbs

The Pres­i­dent’s pro­nounce­ment a week ago in Poland was pos­i­tive and pow­er­ful: “The West will never be bro­ken!” Just one catch: Mr. Trump him­self is try­ing to break it.

He is as­sault­ing an in­com­pa­ra­ble qual­ity that has long dis­tin­guished our na­tion from any other. It is this: when our su­per­power ri­vals in­volve them­selves in the af­fairs of other na­tions, they ask, “What will strengthen us?” We ask more: “What will strengthen us but keep our al­lies strong too?” Be­cause we’ve un­der­stood, what strength­ens them strength­ens us. What en­riches them en­riches us. What re­in­forces their lib­er­ties re­in­forces ours. And what weakens Amer­i­can al­lies, weakens Amer­ica. We’ve un­der­stood that, un­til now.

True, some­times our in­volve­ment with other coun­tries hasn’t worked out so well, but more of­ten than not, it has. For them, for us. Which is what makes the pres­i­dent’s plat­i­tudes so puz­zling, and his self-styled “Amer­ica First” poli­cies so per­ni­cious.

On trade, one of the con­tro­ver­sies dur­ing Trump’s trip, he be­rates and brow­beats al­lies more than ad­ver­saries. He threat­ens new tar­iffs on im­ports from proven part­ners which will raise costs with­out co­pi­ously cre­at­ing new jobs. Not to men­tion in­spir­ing our long­time friends to talk of re­tal­i­a­tion. Also of course, he pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship, in ef­fect ced­ing reli­able and re­mu­ner­a­tive trade re­la­tion­ships to China. This makes us stronger?

On cli­mate, the other core con­tro­versy, he will pull out of the Paris cli­mate ac­cord and ab­ro­gate Amer­ica’s agree­ments on green­house gas emis­sions. To which no less a sea­soned diplo­mat than Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Merkel de­clared, most undiplo­mat­i­cally, she “de­plores.” The in­dus­tri­al­ized world’s shift to cleaner fu­els and re­new­able en­er­gies is in­evitable. And ob­served in Europe en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. We just won’t be as big a part of it. China, by the way, will. We are stronger be­cause of this?

On Rus­sia, Pres­i­dent Trump told Pres­i­dent Putin when they shook hands for the first time, “It’s an honor to be with you.” An honor? To meet a man who takes the ter­ri­to­ries he wants, who backs the bru­tal bully in Syria, who has his own crit­ics ab­ducted and im­pris­oned and killed, and lest we for­get, who by con­sen­sus in the Amer­i­can in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity, fid­dled in our Amer­i­can elec­tions? I’m all for patch­ing up para­mount geopo­lit­i­cal re­la­tion­ships, but not by turn­ing a blind eye to the other side’s sins.

By show­ing Rus­sia’s leader re­spect he does not de­serve, Pres­i­dent Trump gave Pres­i­dent Putin what wants: a seat at the ta­ble, to look us in the eye as an equal. This hardly strength­ens us. Sec­re­tary of State Tiller­son rightly said our two nu­clear na­tions have to start fig­ur­ing out, “How do we live with one an­other? How do we work with one an­other?” But do we have to re­store Rus­sia to its for­mer glory while we’re at it? Es­pe­cially when, due in part to Pres­i­dent Obama’s in­ac­tion in the Mid­dle East, Rus­sia al­ready has a seat again at the ta­ble there.

Trump also asked his Euro­pean au­di­ence, “Do we have the con­fi­dence in our val­ues to de­fend them at any cost?”

The co­nun­drum is, he doesn’t. A vi­tal value used to be, “All for one and one for all.” But “Amer­ica First” turns that on its head. And where are our val­ues when the pres­i­dent has said worse things about Ger­many’s Merkel, Amer­ica’s ally, than about Rus­sia’s Putin, Amer­ica’s an­tag­o­nist? One up­shot is, Merkel’s own po­lit­i­cal party has deleted the word “friend” from its plat­form when it talks about the United States. France’s new pres­i­dent, Em­manuel Macron, lamented last week­end, “Our com­mon goods have never been so threat­ened.”

We are still the most pow­er­ful na­tion on earth. But are we still the most re­spected? And how can we lead when oth­ers don’t want to fol­low?

Show me how any of this strength­ens our friends. Show

me how it strength­ens us. Mac Tully, CEO and Pub­lisher; Justin Mock, Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent of Fi­nance and Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer; Bill Reynolds, Se­nior VP, Cir­cu­la­tion and Pro­duc­tion; Judi Pat­ter­son, Vice Pres­i­dent, Hu­man Re­sources; Bob Kin­ney, Vice Pres­i­dent, In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy

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