Trump is not the first leader to think this way. In fact, almost every previous ruler of a mighty state has thought this way, from Ozymandias onward. But they have all failed, with disastrous consequences. States that dominate inevitably inspire resistance. The subject states join together to overthrow the bully. And they almost always win, because no one state is ever stronger than all other states combined, or not for long anyway.Read the whole article here. The final point is worth emphasizing. One hige benefit of our rules-focused foreign policy in the past is that a large number of countries in the world (including dozens of allies) are not merely comfortable with U.S. power, but are actually huge fans of this power. this is true in both Asia and Europe.
The men who built the postwar world anticipated this danger and sought to avert it. They designed trade and treaty systems governed by rules, rules to which the United States would submit, even though it was the strongest party. Indeed, they intended exactly the things that Donald Trump now complains about—that the U.S. would have to make concessions to smaller partners; that it would not act as judge in its own cases; that it would subordinate its parochial and immediate national interests to the larger and more enduring collective interest. America would find security by working for the security of others.The Americans who led the effort took this approach in part because it’s what they were accustomed to: The U.S. Constitution likewise overweights the interests of minorities and small groups. They also did it because they had learned from their wars against rulers who sought to dominate their neighbors. In the world as at home, systems that serve the interests of all endure better than systems that oppress many to serve a few.They wanted a future in which non-Americans would be the ones who most wished to uphold U.S. hegemony and most feared to see that hegemony end. They succeeded in this, against every external danger. And now the good and wise and even glorious accord they created is more threatened than ever before—not by an enemy, but by the narrow-minded, shortsighted bullying of an accidental and unfit American president. Will the story really end this way? It all seems not only heartrendingly sad, but also teeth-grindingly stupid.
Thursday, May 4, 2017
The Fundamental Problem With Trump's Foreign Policy
I have been working on a post that contrasts Trump's "Let's Make a Deal" foreign policy with the more rules focused foreign policy of all his post World War II predecessors, but I can't improve on a recent essay by conservative writer David Frum in the Atlantic magazine. In a really thoughtful essay on why Trump's disdain for European unity, and his embrace of European nationalism are so counter-productive to U.S. interests, Frum offers this thoughtful discussion of the problems with Trump's insistence that the U.S. fully assert its power in every engagement with our allies: