Donald Trump’s pernicious “America First” policies
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